Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth about Christianity?by N. T. Wright
Joining many other recently found and publicized "gospels," the Gospel of Judas has found its way into the limelight as the subject of some recently published books and some recent television programming. The ancient manuscript is genuine-so what are Christians to make of the claims therein? Claims such as -Judas was doing what Jesus asked him to do when he betrayed Jesus -Jesus came to offer secret knowledge of how to escape this earthly world, rather than to usher in God's kingdom on earth -Jesus felt no pain on the cross -and more This timely and necessary response to the Gospel of Judas is the authoritative, orthodox word on what it really tells us--and does not tell us--about Jesus, Judas, early Christianity, and Gnosticism. Tom Wright, as both a bishop and an historian, is uniquely qualified to speak on the subject and answers the questions Christians have after encountering this "new gospel."
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Wright does two things in this short and readable book that are well worth the reader’s time to see: 1. He sets aright the true Gospel in contrast to what proponents of this “new gospel” have tried to topple—namely, the Biblical record of Christ. 2. He addresses issues that seem to sidetrack modern-day Christians who get caught up in one tangent or another in their faith-walk. In doing so, he reminds readers that they need not fear what intellectuals with big vocabularies are spouting when we have Truth on our side. Conservative Evangelicals will thrill and cheer as Wright discredits the Gnostics and the supporters of this new “Gospel of Judas.” But then we begin to understand the audience of the Old Testament prophet Amos when he was proclaiming the oracles against all the nations surrounding Israel. You might recall that each nation was called down for their sins against God. Finally, the prophet narrowed the focus to Judah and then to Israel herself—and the proclamation against Israel was far more serious than that of her neighbors because of the depth of her transgression. Israel, after all, as a nation was “the people of God” and should have known better. In this same manner, Wright after setting the scene for the dismissal of the Gospel of Judas as authoritative (even if it is an authentic third century document) and Gnosticism in general (either the early New Testament era version or the more modern variation), he levels his sights on the modern evangelical movement (American Protestantism in particular) to call us on our propensity to amalgamate certain teachings of the Gnostics into our own instruction just to keep from having to take part in debate over issues we’d rather ignore. The last chapter of the book is a bit harder to take, but its truth cannot be denied. We as Christians ought to be less defensive over our man-made traditions and more concerned with living as the Scriptures dictate. Even though I feel a bit scathed having read the last pages, I can’t help but give Wright four and one-half reading glasses. This defense of the True Gospel in light of late archeological discoveries which would try to disprove that Gospel is one that will be helpful to both the academic and the layman alike. It will help you know more why you believe what you believe about the Passion of the Christ. —Benjamin Potter December 6, 2012
Just a short note on this, one of the latest by noted historian and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright. He takes a close look at this recently released ancient writing, and finds it severely wanting as a trustworthy source of accurate information about Jesus or the early church's real beliefs. This ancient work is clearly gnostic in tone, and thus may be put beside the other such writings from that time period. Wright observes that, far from persecuting the poor gnostic movement, it was the traditional Christians who were persecuted. He finds it facinating, and disturbing, that there is so much of an effort these days the rehabilitate this ancient esoteric movement. It will be interesting to read his latest book on the other 'alternative gospels'. N.T. Wright is, by the way, no doctrinaire fundamentalist, but an open-minded scholar who has spent much of his life researching the history behind the bible, and the Church. If you have any curiosity of the so-called 'lost books of the Bible', read this book, and the other one mentioned.
While the author would possibly see himself as the 'defender of the faith,' he actually reinforces the worst of the what he considers 'Gnosticism!' Gnosticism is basically a critical view of the church and a disavowal of Christ's resurrection. The author would appear to 'believe' in the latter - but never hesistates to define Christianity, therefore, anyone who lives by 'faith alone' would possibly be considered a 'gnostic' by the author anyone who doesn't 'get with the programme,' that the author pushes by exploiting the divisions between evangelicals, Reformed Presbyterians, city people, townsfolk. The list goes on. Therefore, with the author's agenda comes a metanarrative that crushes unassuming Christians with it's obligations necessary to the faith. This is not what the Apostle Paul was trying to say. The Apostle Paul was trying to say that the Christian 'grows in grace ' he or she realizes that Jesus Christ loves a person regardless of sin and that a conscious adherence to the law for the sake of the law always arouses our passions to dominate. The author sees Jesus alone as the Messiah who is coming back to rule for a millenium. New Testament authors do not regard this aspect of the kingdom as the main point but highlight Jesus as our savior. Jesus can only be our savior if we grow in grace, otherwise we would'nt need him, if ruling in the future was based solely on our works.