Written: c. 150
Read: April 2006
In this gospel Judas is Jesus’ true disciple, not the other Eleven. Jesus takes him aside to reveal the real truth of things, the secrets that he will not tell the others. Judas still turns Jesus in, but it seems to have Jesus’ approval.
It all sounds interesting- you cannot wait to get to the part about those secrets. National Geographic paid fortune to have it translated. But when Jesus takes Judas aside, what does he tell him? About aeons, generations, stars, angels, heavens and all the rest of the Gnostic bathwater. You know, the six impossible things that Elaine Pagels believes before breakfast. What a let-down!
The book had been lost for centuries, but it was found in the sands of Egypt in 1978. It was not a scroll, but a real book with a leather cover and everything. Some of the pages are torn out (and may come to light later) and the rest are in bad condition after seventeen centuries in the sand. Restoring it was like putting a partly broken egg back together. But in the end we can make out about two thirds of it. It is in Coptic but seems to have been translated from a Greek original. The original was written sometime before 180, when Irenaeus was the first to mention it in his book about the Gnostics.
As one of the many Gnostic gospels, it was never regarded as Holy Scripture by the Church. Read it, all seven pages, not the AP story about it, and you will see why.
Did you see how I was hoping that maybe it had some deep dark secret? Why did I think that? There is a current of feeling (not thought, yet) in at least this country that the Catholic Church has been hiding some deep dark secrets. Not just about the dark doings in our own lifetime, which we all know about now, but way way back to the very beginning. Elaine Pagels has made a living out of it. It has made Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, a very rich man. And it is what drives the interest in this gospel.