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Title: Exciting

Exciting New Gospels?What Catholics need to
knowabout the Gospel of Judas and other
apocryphal writings
  • Religious Education Congress
  • Sunday, March 2, 2008
  • Felix Just, S.J.
  • http//catholic-resources.org

Introduction Apocryphal Books
  • There are MANY ancient Jewish or Christian
    writings not found in the OT or NT!
  • Have you read the entire text of
  • the Gospel of James? of Peter?
  • the Gospel of Thomas? (both?)
  • the Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)? of Judas?
  • the Letter of Barnabas? the Didache?
  • the 1st Book of Enoch? the Book of Jubilees?
  • Have you read ALL of the four NT Gospels?
  • The whole NT? The whole OT?

Introduction Apocryphal Books
  • Should Catholic-Christians read these books?
  • Yes! (If you wish!) But for what purpose?
  • Historical knowledge Jesus apostles? NO!
  • Historical knowledge How early Christian
    beliefs developed in the first few centuries?
  • Theological understanding Our faith today?
    Only indirectly! (learning about anything
    helps us)
  • It's OK to read non-canonical books!
  • Some suppressed/neglected in past (dangerous?)
  • Widely available today popular in some circles
  • Yet OT NT are still much more important!

I) Important Definitions
  • "gospel" "good news" oral preaching
  • from Gk. ???a??????? Evangelion (cf. Eng.
    "Evangelist")eu "good" angelos "messenger"
  • "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to
    Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and
    saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom
    of God has come near repent, and believe in the
    good news.' " (Mark 114-15 NRSV)
  • "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an
    apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which
    he promised beforehand through his prophets in
    the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his
    Son" (Romans 11-3 NRSV)
  • "But the birthday of the god (Caesar Augustus)
    was the beginning of the good news for the
    world" (Prien inscription)

I) Important Definitions
  • "Gospel" "written account about Jesus"
  • Mark was first to use "gospel" in this sense
  • "The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,
    the Son of God." (Mark 11)
  • NT Gospel Titles (added in 2nd Cent.)
  • "Gospel according to Mark Gospel according to"
  • "Canon"
  • "Official List" of writings ("scriptures")
    considered foundational by some group HB canon,
    NT canon
  • Usually religious, but not onlye.g.
    Shakespearean canon

I) Important Definitions
  • Four "Canonical Gospels"
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
  • Dates 1st century (60's 90's)
  • Order? Mark probably first, then Matthew, Luke
    John last
  • "Non-canonical Gospels"
  • Many other short books
  • mostly from 2nd to 4th cent.
  • about Jesus' life and/or his teachings.

I) Important Definitions
  • "Apocryphal" "hidden, secret"
  • Cf. English "crypt," "cryptic"
  • MANY ancient Jewish or Christian books outside
    of HB or NT, overall called "Apocrypha"
  • Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, Epistles, Apocalypses
  • Not "canonical" i.e., not in anyone's Bible
  • Caution Protestants refer to OT "Apocrypha"
  • Tobit, Judith, 1 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Eccl.,
  • Called "Deutero-canonical" by Catholics
  • Don't confuse with "Apocalyptic"
  • "Revelation" lit. "uncovering, revealing,

I) Important Definitions
  • "Pseudepigraphic"
  • Writings "falsely attributed" to famous figures
    of the past (esp. biblical, but not only)
  • Actual authors anonymous written (much) later
  • "Gnostic"
  • Religious systems related to Judaism
  • Dualistic good vs. evil spirit vs. matter M
    vs. F !
  • Human life "divine spark" trapped in mortal
  • Salvation freeing soul/spirit from its bodily
    prison,by attaining proper (secret/esoteric)
    "knowledge" of our divine origins eternal

II) Canonization of the NT
  • Long Process of Development
  • writing, sharing, collecting, editing,
    translating, debating, interpreting the
    books/letters now in NT
  • 1st Cent. individual writings composed
  • 2nd Cent. writings collected (4 Gospels Pauls
  • 4th Cent. early canon lists
  • some with fewer than books 2 Peter?
  • some with more Didache, Shepherd of Hermas,
  • 367 Easter Letter of St. Athanasius first
    list of all 27
  • 16th Cent. Council of Trent
  • First "official" listing of all 46 OT 27 NT
  • In reaction to Protestants (esp. regarding OT

End of Luke Beginning of John
II) Canonization of the NT
  • Main Criteria for Inclusion
  • 1) Apostolic Origin
  • attributed to and/or based on preaching/teaching
    of first-generation apostles (or their closest
  • 2) Universal Acceptance
  • acknowledged by all major Christian communities
    in the Mediterranean world (by end of 4th
  • 3) Liturgical Use
  • read publicly along with OT when early Christians
    gathered for Lord's Supper (weekly worship
  • 4) Consistent Message
  • containing theological ideas compatible with
    other accepted Christian writings (incl. divinity
    humanity Jesus)

II) Canonization of the NT
  • Reasons for Non-Inclusion in NT Canon(opposites
    of the four criteria)
  • Apostolic Origin? written by later generations
  • Universal Acceptance? rejected by some
  • Liturgical Use? too esoteric, obscure, private
  • Consistent Theology? present God/Jesus
  • Christology (Who is Jesus?)
  • Catholic Both/And Both HUMAN and DIVINE
  • Jewish or Adoptionist Human, not really divine
  • Gnostic or Docetist Divine, not really human

III) Non-canonical Gospels
  • We know of at least 30 "Gospels" not in NT
  • many different origins, styles, theologies
  • some positively influenced Church tradition
  • others rejected as "Gnostic" and/or "heretical"
  • some texts complete, others badly damaged/
    fragmentary, others known only by title!

Arabic Infancy Gospel Gospel of Matthias Gospel of the Lord Gospel of the Nazareans Gospel of Gamaliel Gospel of James Gospel of the Egyptians Gospel of the Birth of Mary Gospel of Nicodemus Gospels of the 12 Apostles Gospel of the Ebionites Gospel of Basilides Infancy Gospel of Thomas Coptic Gospel of Thomas Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew Gospel of Bartholomew Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) Gospel of the Hebrews Gospel of Mani Gospel of Peter Gospel of Truth, etc.
III) Non-canonical Gospels
  • (See the bibliography, on back of the handout.)

III) Non-canonical Gospels
  • Some of the most famous or influential
  • Gospel of James mid-2nd Cent.
  • mainly about Mary (of Nazareth) as the mother of
    Israel's salvation
  • Gospel of Peter late 2nd Cent. (discovered
  • earliest non-canonical narrative account of
    Jesus' passion resurrection
  • Infancy Gospel of Thomas late 2nd Cent.
  • strange miraculous events from Jesus'
    childhood,from ages 5 to 12
  • Sayings Gospel of Thomas 2nd 3rd Cent.
  • (more below)

III) Non-canonical Gospels
  • Nag Hammadi Library
  • Over 50 texts in 13 codices, Coptic, mostly
    gnostic, discovered in 1945 near Nag Hammadi,
  • Gospel of Thomas
  • Orig. 2nd 3rd Cent. some old fragments in
    GreekCollection of 114 short sayings
    teachings of Jesus
  • Gospel of the Egyptians
  • Gospel of Philip
  • Gospel of Truth
  • Many other books, including various Acts,
    Dialogues, Treatises, Apocalypses, etc.

Nag Hammadi Codices
Nag Hammadi Codex IV
III) Non-canonical Gospels
  • More recent texts
  • Secret Gospel of Mark (1958, Morton Smith)
  • Gospel acc. to Peanuts (1965, Robert L. Short)
  • Gospel acc. to the Simpsons (2001/2007, Mark I.
    Pinsky)"Bigger and Possibly Even Better!
    Edition With a New Afterword Exploring South
    Park, Family Guy, and Other Animated TV Shows"
  • Gospel acc. to Harry Potter (2002, Connie
    Neal)"Spirituality in the Stories of the World's
    Most Famous Seeker"
  • Gospel acc. to Doctor Seuss (2004, James Kemp)
  • Gospel acc. to Martha (2000, Barbara Murphy)

III) Non-canonical Gospels
  • "Are you serious?" (I hear you cry!)
  • How are these modern texts related tothe ancient
    Apocryphal Gospels?
  • Similarities they are mostly authors
    attemptsto understand the teachings or meaning
    of Jesus, or of other spiritual themes more
  • Differences most modern texts are not
    forgeries modern authors' names known

Excerpts Gospel of James
  • (mid-2nd Cent. Engl. trans. Andrew Bernhard)
  • Chap. 1 In the histories of the twelve tribes
    of Israel, Joachim was an extremely rich man . .
    . As the great day of the Lord was drawing near
    and the children of Israel were bringing their
    offerings, however, Reubel stood in his way,
    saying, "You cannot offer your gifts first
    because you have not conceived a child in
    Israel." . . .
  • Then, Joachim was extremely frustrated and did
    not appear to his wife, but gave himself to the
    desert and pitched his tent there. He fasted
    forty days and forty nights. All the while,
    Joachim was saying to himself, "I will not go
    down for food or drink until the Lord my God
    visits me prayer will be my food and drink."

Excerpts Gospel of James
  • Ch. 2 Then, his wife Anna mourned and lamented
    greatly for two reasons, saying, "I lament that I
    am a widow and I lament that I am
    childless."she petitioned the Lord, saying,
    "God of my ancestors, bless me and hear my
    prayer, just as you blessed our mother Sarah and
    gave her son Isaac to her."
  • Ch. 4 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood in
    front of her, saying, "Anna, Anna, the Lord God
    has heard your prayer. You will conceive and give
    birth and your child will be spoken of everywhere
    people live." And Anna said, "As the Lord God
    lives, whether I give birth to either a male or a
    female child, I will bring it as an offering to
    the Lord my God and it will be a servant to him
    all the days of its life."

Annunciation to Joachim AnnaGaudenzio
  • Next, two angels came, saying to her, "Look your
    husband Joachim is coming with his flocks." For
    an angel of the Lord had gone down to Joachim,
    saying, "Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard
    your prayer. Go down from here. Look, your wife
    Anna has conceived in her womb."

Excerpts Gospel of James
  • Ch. 5 After nine months, Anna gave birth and
    she said to the midwife, "What is it?" The
    midwife said, "A girl." Anna said, "My soul
    exalts this day." And she put her baby to bed.
    After her days were completed, Anna cleansed
    herself and gave her breast to the child and gave
    her the name Mary.
  • Ch. 6 At 6 months, Mary walks. At one year, she
    is blessed by the high priests.
  • Ch. 7 At age 3, Mary is taken to live in the
  • Ch. 8-9 At age 12, Mary is given to Joseph, a
  • Ch. 11-12 At age 16, Mary is visited by the
    Angel Gabriel then she visits her cousin
  • Ch. 13-14 Joseph discovers her pregnant
    Joseph's dream
  • Ch. 15-16 Mary Joseph are questioned before
    the court.

Excerpts Gospel of James
  • Ch. 17-18 They go to Bethlehem, and Jesus is
  • Ch. 19-20 A midwife attests that Mary is still
    a virgin.
  • Ch. 21-22 Magi come visit Herod kills all the
    infant boys near Bethlehem Mary hides Jesus
    Elizabeth hides John
  • Ch. 23-24 Still seeking John, Herod murders
    Zechariah(see Matt 2335 Luke 1151 "the
    blood of Zechariah son of Zarachiah, whom you
    murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
  • Ch. 25 "I, James, wrote this history when there
    was unrest in Jerusalem, at the time Herod died.
    I took myself into the desert until the unrest in
    Jerusalem ceased. All the while, I was glorifying
    God who gave me the wisdom to write this history.
    And grace will be with all who fear the Lord.
  • Birth of Mary / Revelation of James
  • Peace to the writer and the reader

Gospel of James
  • Evaluation of this text
  • Not accepted as "canonical" but why not?
  • Yet also not "gnostic" nor "heretical"
  • Popular / traditional / influential in Christian
  • Parallels parts of Matthew 12 and Luke 12
  • But also adds material (both earlier filling in
  • Birth of Mary to Joachim Anna
  • Some episodes in Mary's childhood
  • Her marriage to Joseph
  • More details surrounding her pregnancy
  • More episodes re. Herod killing children

Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  • (Mid-2nd Cent. Engl. trans. Andrew Bernhard)
  • (1) I, Thomas the Israelite, am reporting to you,
    all my brothers from the nations, to reveal the
    childhood and the greatness of our Lord Jesus
    Christ, what he did in my country after he was
    born. This is the beginning of it.
  • (2) When the boy Jesus was five years old, he was
    playing in a narrow part of a rushing stream. He
    was gathering the flowing waters into ponds, and
    immediately they were made clean, and he ordered
    these things with a single word.

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (2)
  • (2 cont.) And after he made clay, he molded
    twelve sparrows from it. And it was the Sabbath
    when he did these things. . .
  • Then, a certain Jew saw what Jesus was doing
    while playing on the Sabbath. Immediately, he
    departed and reported to Jesus' father, Joseph,
    "Look, your child is in the stream and he took
    clay and formed twelve birds and profaned the
  • And Joseph went to the area and when he saw
    him, he shouted, "Why are you doing these things
    that are not permitted on the Sabbath?" Jesus,
    however, clapped his hands and shouted to the
    sparrows, "Depart, fly, and remember me now that
    you are alive."
  • And the sparrows departed shrieking.
  • When the Jews saw this, they were amazed. . .

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (3)
  • (3) The son of Annas the scribe was standing
    there with Jesus. Taking a branch from a willow
    tree, he dispersed the waters which Jesus had
  • When Jesus saw what had happened, he became
    angry and said to him, "You godless, brainless
    moron, what did the ponds and waters do to you?
    Watch this now you are going to dry up like a
    tree and you will never produce leaves or roots
    or fruit."
  • And immediately, this child withered up
  • Then, Jesus departed and returned to
    Joseph's house. The parents of the one who had
    been withered up, however, wailed for their young
    child as they took his remains away.
  • Then, they went to Joseph and accused him,
    "You are responsible for the child who did this."

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (4-8)
  • (4) Next, he was going through the village again
    and a running child bumped his shoulder. Becoming
    bitter, Jesus said to him, "You will not complete
    your journey." Immediately, he fell down and
  • Then, some of the people who had seen what
    had happened said, "Where has this child come
    from so that his every word is a completed deed?"
  • And going to Joseph, the parents of the one
    who had died found fault with him. They said,
    "Because you have such a child, you are not
    allowed to live with us in the village, or at
    least teach him to bless and not curse. For our
    children are dead!"
  • (5-8) Jesus, at age 5, is already wiser than

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (9)
  • (9) And after a few days passed, Jesus was up on
    a roof of a house. And one of the children
    playing with him died after falling off the roof.
    . . When the parents of the one who had died
    came, they accused Jesus, "Troublemaker, you
    threw him down."
  • But Jesus replied, "I did not throw him
    down, rather he threw himself down. When he was
    not acting carefully, he leaped off the roof and
    died." Jesus leaped off the roof and stood by the
    corpse of the boy and cried out with a loud voice
    and said, "Zeno," - for that was his name - "rise
    up, talk to me did I throw you down?"
  • And rising up immediately, he said, "No,
    Lord, you did not throw me down, but you did
    raise me up."
  • And when they saw this, they were
    overwhelmed. The parents of the child glorified
    God on account of the sign which had happened and
    they worshipped Jesus.

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (10-11)
  • (10) another miracle, after which the witnesses
    worship him
  • (11) When Jesus was six years old, his mother
    sent him to draw water to carry into the house.
    But he accidentally let the water go in the
    crowd, and crashing, the water jar broke. But
    unfolding the cloak which was thrown around him,
    he filled it with water and carried it to his
  • When his mother saw the sign he had done,
    she kissed him and treasured in her heart the
    mysterious things she had seen him do.

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (12-15)
  • (12) Then again, in the season of sowing, the
    child went with his father to sow grain in their
    field. And as his father was sowing, the child
    Jesus also sowed one measure of grain.
  • And after he harvested and threshed it, it
    produced one hundred measures. And calling all
    the poor of the village to the threshing floor,
    he gave them grain freely.
  • And Joseph carried the remaining grain away.
  • Jesus was eight years old when he did this
  • (13) another miracle, after which Joseph is
  • (14-15) more stories of Jesus being wiser than

Infancy Gospel of Thomas (16-19)
  • (16) Then, Joseph sent his son James to tie up
    wood and bring it into his house, but the child
    Jesus also followed him.
  • And while James was collecting the bushes, a
    viper bit his hand. And as he lay on the ground
    dying, Jesus approached and blew on the bite. And
    immediately, his anguish ceased and the animal
    broke apart and at once James was healthy.
  • (17-18) more miracles, after which everyone is
  • (19) Jesus, at age 12, goes to Jerusalem with
    his parents (see Luke 241-52)
  • Conclusion "And Jesus continued to grow in
    wisdom and age and grace. To him be the glory
    forever and ever, amen."

Jesus in the Temple at age 12Gustave Doré
Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  • Evaluation of this text
  • Fills in biblical gaps Jesus' childhood (esp.
    ages 5-9)
  • Not accepted as "canonical" Why not?
  • How does it portray the young Jesus?
  • Cruel? Curses people, and they immediately die?
  • Powerful? Miraculous healings raising the
  • Wise? Better than anyone who tries to teach him!
  • What can we learn from this text?
  • Anything about (the historical) Jesus? No!
  • Some early Christians' beliefs about him? Yes!

Gospel of Peter
  • (late 2nd Cent. text discovered 1886
    fragmentary begin end)
  • The text begins near at the end of Jesus'
    trial,narrates the crucifixion fairly briefly,
    with some elements similar to the canonical
    Gospels, but some different.
  • Jesus is condemned to death (Herod gives the
  • Joseph (of Arimathea) asks for Jesus' body
    (before he dies!)
  • Jesus is mocked scourged, is crucified, and
  • His body is taken down from the cross and buried.
  • Jewish leaders people lament and repent.
  • The elders ask Pilate for soldiers to guard
    Jesus' tomb.
  • On the sabbath, a crowd comes to see the sealed
  • New details about the morning of the resurrection

The Empty TombGustave Doré
Excerpts Gospel of Peter
  • Par. 9-10 (trans. Sam Gibson)During the night
    before the Lord's day dawned, as the soldiers
    were keeping guard two by two in every watch,
    there came a great sound in the sky, and they saw
    the heavens opened and two men descend shining
    with a great light, and they drew near to the
  • The stone which had been set on the door rolled
    away by itself and moved to one side, and the
    tomb was opened and both of the young men went
  • Now when these soldiers saw that, they woke up
    the centurion and the elders (for they also were
    there keeping watch).

Excerpts Gospel of Peter
  • While they were yet telling them the things which
    they had seen, they saw three men come out of the
    tomb, two of them sustaining the other one, and a
    cross following after them.
  • The heads of the two they saw had heads that
    reached up to heaven, but the head of him that
    was led by them went beyond heaven.
  • And they heard a voice out of the heavens saying,
    "Have you preached unto them that sleep?" The
    answer that was heard from the cross was, "Yes!"

Excerpts Gospel of Peter
  • The story continues
  • Soldiers report back to Pilate he tells them to
    say nothing.
  • Mary of Magdala other women go to the tomb to
  • They're afraid of being seen by the Jewsand
    wonder who will roll away the stone for them.
  • They find the tomb open, and see a young man
  • Final paragraph
  • Now it was the last day of Unleavened Bread, and
    many were returning to their homes since the
    feast was ending. But we, the twelve disciples of
    the Lord, continued weeping and mourning, and
    each one still grieving for what had happened,
    left for his own home. But I, Simon Peter, and
    Andrew my brother, took our fishing nets and went
    to the sea. With us was Levi, the son of
    Alphaeus, whom the Lord...(text breaks off here)

Gospel of Peter
  • Evaluation of this text
  • Again, fills in a few biblical gaps (esp. Easter
  • Not accepted as "canonical" Why not?
  • What can we learn from this text?
  • What really happened on Easter morning,how Jesus
    was raised from the dead? No!
  • Some early Christians' beliefs about Jesus?

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • Greek fragments from 2nd 3rd Cent.4th Cent.
    Coptic text discovered 1945 near Nag Hammadi
  • Collection of 114 Sayings of Jesus excerpts
    here from "The Scholar's Translation," by S.
    Patterson M. Meyer.
  • 0) These are the secret sayings that the living
    Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.
  • 1) And he said, "Whoever discovers the
    interpretation of these sayings will not taste

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • 2) Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop
    seeking until they find. When they find, they
    will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they
    will marvel, and will reign over all. And after
    they have reigned they will rest."
  • 3) Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you,
    'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,'
    then the birds of the sky will precede you. If
    they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the
    fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is
    within you and it is outside you. When you know
    yourselves, then you will be known, and you will
    understand that you are children of the living
    Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then
    you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • 4) Jesus said, "The person old in days won't
    hesitate to ask a little child seven days old
    about the place of life, and that person will
    live. For many of the first will be last, and
    will become a single one."
  • 6) His disciples asked him and said to him, "Do
    you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should
    we give to charity? What diet should we observe?"
    Jesus said, "Don't lie, and don't do what you
    hate, because all things are disclosed before
    heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that
    will not be revealed, and there is nothing
    covered up that will remain undisclosed."

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • 7) Jesus said, "Lucky is the lion that the human
    will eat, so that the lion becomes human. And
    foul is the human that the lion will eat, and the
    lion still will become human."
  • 8) And he said, The person is like a wise
    fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew
    it up from the sea full of little fish. Among
    them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large
    fish. He threw all the little fish back into the
    sea, and easily chose the large fish. Anyone here
    with two good ears had better listen!

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • 9) Jesus said, Look, the sower went out, took a
    handful (of seeds), and scattered (them). Some
    fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered
    them. Others fell on rock, and they didn't take
    root in the soil and didn't produce heads of
    grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the
    seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good
    soil, and it produced a good crop it yielded
    sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • 48) Jesus said, "If two make peace with each
    other in a single house, they will say to the
    mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move."
  • 56) Jesus said, "Whoever has come to know the
    world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has
    discovered a carcass, of that person the world is
    not worthy."
  • 77) Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all
    things. I am all from me all came forth, and to
    me all attained. Split a piece of wood I am
    there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me

Ex Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • Last saying (possibly added late)
  • 114) Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave
    us, for females don't deserve life."
  • Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her
    male, so that she too may become a living spirit
    resembling you males.
  • For every female who makes herself male will
    enter the kingdom of Heaven."

Coptic Gospel of Thomas
  • Evaluation of this text
  • Not accepted as "canonical" Why not?
  • Heretical? Gnostic? Not universally accepted.
  • How does it portray the teachings of Jesus?
  • Familiar? Strange?
  • What can we learn from this text?
  • Anything about (the historical) Jesus? Yes, a
  • Some of the 114 sayings may date to the 1st
    Cent.similar in wording and style to the
  • Others are later, more gnostic in theology.

IV) Gospel of Judas
  • Ancient Origins
  • Originally written in Greek, mid-2nd Cent.
  • Known rejected by Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. 180)
  • Others again declare that Cain derived his
    being from the Power above, and acknowledge that
    Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons,
    are related to themselves. On this account, they
    add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet
    no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia
    was in the habit of carrying off that which
    belonged to her from them to herself. They
    declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly
    acquainted with these things, and that he alone,
    knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished
    the mystery of the betrayal by him all things,
    both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into
    confusion. They produce a fictitious history of
    this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
  • (Against Heresies, I.30 Doctrines of the

IV) Gospel of Judas
  • Modern Re-discovery
  • Codex Tchacos, late 3rd Cent., Coptic, found
  • 66 pages, with four texts, badly fragmented in
  • 1) Letter of Peter to Philip 2) James (First
    Apocalypse of)
  • 3) Gospel of Judas 4) Book of Allogenes (frag.)
  • Languished on antiquities market for decades.
  • Published by National Geographic Society in
    2006, with huge marketing blitz!
  • Press Conference April 6, 2006
  • National Geographic Magazine, May 2006
  • Three books published by NG
  • Plus other books, other scholars, other

Gospel of Judas
IV) Gospel of Judas
  • Sensational Claims by NGS
  • Judas was Jesus' favorite disciple!
  • Jesus asked Judas to betray him!
  • The Gospel of Judas gives a different view of
    the relationship between Jesus and Judas,
    offering new insights into the disciple who
    betrayed Jesus. Unlike the accounts in the
    canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
    John, in which Judas is portrayed as a reviled
    traitor, this newly discovered Gospel portrays
    Judas as acting at Jesus request when he hands
    Jesus over to the authorities.
  • Really?
  • Can mid-2nd-cent. texts give us reliable new info
    about what really happened in the days of Jesus?

IV) Gospel of Judas
  • More Careful Statements by Scholars
  • Scholars say the text not only offers an
    alternative view of the relationship between
    Jesus and Judas but also illustrates the
    diversity of opinion in the early Christian
  • "I expect this gospel to be important mainly for
    the deeper insight it will give scholars into the
    thoughts and beliefs of certain Christians in the
    second century of the Christian era, namely the
    Gnostics," said Stephen Emmel, a Coptic studies
    professor at the University of Münster in
  • (National Geographic Press Release, April 6, 2006)

IV) Gospel of Judas
  • Other Cautions
  • The text is very fragmentary codex badly damaged
  • Translations of some passages are still disputed
  • Theology is obviously Gnostic but to understand
    such texts at all, we need to know what ancient
    Gnosticism believed and taught!
  • Literary Form
  • Mostly dialogues between Jesus and Judas,as
    explicitly stated at the very beginning.

Gospel of Judas
IV) Gospel of Judas (Intro)
  • Excerpts from The Gospel of Judas, edited by R.
    Kasser, M. Meyer, and G. Wurst. National
    Geographic Society, 2006.
  • The secret account of the revelation that Jesus
    spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during
    a week three days before he celebrated Passover.
  • When Jesus appeared on earth, he performed
    miracles and great wonders for the salvation of
    humanity He began to speak to them about the
    mysteries beyond the world and what would take
    place at the end. Often he did not appear as
    himself, but he was found among them as a child.

IV) Gospel of Judas (Scene 1)
  • Judas said to him, I know who you are and
    where you have come from. You are from the
    immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to
    utter the name of the one who has sent you.
  • Knowing that Judas was reflecting on something
    that was exalted, Jesus said to him, Step away
    from the others and I shall tell you the
    mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you
    to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal.
    For someone else will replace you, in order that
    the twelve disciples may again come to
    completion with their god.

IV) Gospel of Judas (Scene 3)
  • Judas said, Master, as you have listened to all
    of them, now also listen to me. For I have seen a
    great vision. When Jesus heard this, he laughed
    and said to him, You thirteenth spirit, why do
    you try so hard? But speak up, and I shall bear
    with you.
  • Jesus said, "Come, that I may teach you about
    secrets no person has ever seen. For there
    exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent
    no generation of angels has seen, in which
    there is a great invisible Spirit,"

IV) Gospel of Judas (crucial part)
  • Judas said to Jesus, "Look, what will those who
    have been baptized in your name do?" Jesus
    said, "Truly I say to you, this baptism my
  • ca. 9 lines missing
  • to me. Truly I say to you, Judas, those who
    offer sacrifices to Saklas God
  • 3 lines missing
  • everything that is evil. But you will exceed all
    of them. For you will sacrifice the man that
    clothes me."

IV) Gospel of Judas
  • Conclusion of the Text
  • . . . Their high priests murmured because
    he had gone into the guest room for his prayer.
    But some scribes were there watching carefully in
    order to arrest him during the prayer, for they
    were afraid of the people, since he was regarded
    by all as a prophet.
  • They approached Judas and said to him, What are
    you doing here? You are Jesus disciple.
  • Judas answered them as they wished. And he
    received some money and handed him over to them.
  • The Gospel of Judas

V) What Can These Texts Teach Us?
  • About early Gnosticism
  • We learn a little more, recovering texts of
    previously lost ancient writings (albeit often
    very fragmentary) but nothing really new or
  • They mostly confirm Irenaeus' reports about their
    contents, and why the early Church rejected them.
  • About Jesus and his apostles
  • We learn nothing historically about the 1st
  • About Early Christianity
  • We learn more about the beliefs that some groups,
    in the centuries after Jesus, began developing.

V) What Can These Texts Teach Us?
  • So why all the fuss? Good question!
  • Modern anti-Christian bias?
  • Selling more books and magazines?
  • Learn about these texts
  • But beware the "hype"!
  • Learn to ask intelligent questions
  • So you'll be better informed about such
    issues,and not as susceptible to wild or false
  • P.S. Dont forget to read the BIBLEeven more
    than the non-canonical books!

V) What Can These Texts Teach Us?
  • What should we teach others about all this?
  • What should we , as Catholic Religious Educators,
    teach our children, RCIA Candidates, and others?
  • 1) Criteria for Canonicity
  • WHY the Four Gospels were included, but others
  • 2) Existence of MANY OTHER ancient religious
    books, not included in either the OT or NT
  • WHEN / WHERE they come from, in time theology?
  • 3) Differences between Christianity Gnosticism
  • Xnty Jesus as fully human and fully divine!
  • Xnty world/body/matter as both GOOD and sinful
  • Vs. Gnost DUALISTIC the WORLD mostly EVIL

  • W. Schneemelcher, ed. New Testament Apocrypha. 2
    vols. Louisville Westminster/John Knox, 1991-92.
  • J.K. Elliott, ed. The Apocryphal New Testament.
    New York Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • H. Koester. Ancient Christian Gospels.
    Harrisburg, PA Trinity Press International,
  • R.J. Miller, ed. The Complete Gospels Annotated
    Scholars Version. Sonoma, CA Polebridge Press,
  • http//www.earlychristianwritings.com
  • http//wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/noncanon/
  • http//www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/

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X) Gospel of Philip
  • From Nag Hammadi (Codex II,3) Valentinian
  • loosely compiled sayings of Jesus mostly on life
  • Two texts referring to Mary Magdalene(mentioned
    in the daVinci Code)
  • 1) "There were three who always walked with the
    Lord Mary, his mother, and her sister, and
    Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.
    His sister and his mother and his companion were
    each a Mary." (59.6b-11a J. Robinson, NHL, p.

Gospel of Philip Ref. to M.Mag.
  • 2) As for the Wisdom who is called "the barren,"
    she is the mother of the angels.And the
    companion of the . . . Mary Magdalene. . .
    . loved her more than all the disciples and
    used to kiss her often on her . . .. The
    rest of the disciples . . . // . . .. They
    said to him, "Why do you love her more than all
    of us?" The Savior answered and said to them,
    "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind
    man and one who sees are both together in
    darkness, they are no different from one another.
    When the light comes, then he who sees will see
    the light, and he who is blind will remain in
    darkness." (63.30b-64.9 J. Robinson, NHL, p.
  • Note The online copy does not indicate all the

X) Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)
  • PB 8502 discovered 1896 not publ. until 1955!
    Pages 1-6 (ch. 1-3) and 11-14 (ch. 6-7) are
  • Ch. 5 But they were grieved. They wept
    greatly, saying, How shall we go to the Gentiles
    and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of the Son
    of Man? If they did not spare Him, how will they
    spare us?
  • Then Mary stood up, greeted them all, and said to
    her brethren, Do not weep and do not grieve nor
    be irresolute, for His grace will be entirely
    with you and will protect you. But rather, let us
    praise His greatness, for He has prepared us and
    made us into Men.
  • When Mary said this, she turned their hearts to
    the Good, and they began to discuss the words of
    the Savior.

X) Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)
  • Peter said to Mary, Sister we know that the
    Savior loved you more than the rest of woman.
    Tell us the words of the Savior which you
    remember which you know, but we do not, nor have
    we heard them.
  • Mary answered and said, What is hidden from you
    I will proclaim to you. And she began to speak
    to them these words I, she said, I saw the
    Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw
    you today in a vision. He answered and said to
    me, Blessed are you that you did not waver at
    the sight of Me. For where the mind is there is
    the treasure. I said to Him, Lord, how does he
    who sees the vision see it, through the soul or
    through the spirit? The Savior answered and
    said, He does not see through the soul nor
    through the spirit, but the mind that is between
    the two that is what sees the vision and it is .
    . . pages 11-14 missing

X) Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)
  • Ch. 9 When Mary had said this, she fell silent,
    since it was to this point that the Savior had
    spoken with her.
  • But Andrew answered and said to the brethren,
    Say what you wish to say about what she has
    said. I at least do not believe that the Savior
    said this. For certainly these teachings are
    strange ideas.
  • Peter answered and spoke concerning these same
    things. He questioned them about the Savior Did
    He really speak privately with a woman and not
    openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen
    to her? Did He prefer her to us?
  • Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother
    Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I
    have thought this up myself in my heart, or that
    I am lying about the Savior?

X) Gospel of Mary (Magdalene)
  • Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have
    always been hot tempered. Now I see you
    contending against the woman like the
    adversaries. But if the Savior made her worthy,
    who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the
    Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved
    her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and
    put on the perfect Man, and separate as He
    commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying
    down any other rule or other law beyond what the
    Savior said.
  • And when they heard this they began to go forth
    to proclaim and to preach.
  • The Gospel according to Mary
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