Apologetics Index

Gospel of Judas – Research Resources

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• Suggest additional listings The Hunt for the Gospel of Judas English translation of a Dutch language article in Amsterdam daily, Het Parool. Written by art dealer Michel van Rijn (see also ‘ Web Sites’ below), whose web site is dedicated to exposing shady art deals.


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Secular The Betrayal of Judasöffsite"align="bottom"/ Subtitled, Did a ‘dream team’ of biblical scholars mislead millions? Thomas Bartlett, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 30, 2008

When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled at a news conference in April 2006, it made headlines around the world — with nearly all of those articles touting the new and improved Judas. “In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal,” read the headline in The New York Times. The British paper The Guardian called it “a radical makeover for one of the worst reputations in history.” A documentary that aired a few days later on National Geographic’s cable channel also pushed the Judas-as-hero theme. The premiere attracted four million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated program in the channel’s history, behind only a documentary on September 11.

But almost immediately, other scholars began to take issue with the interpretation of Meyer and the rest of the National Geographic team. They didn’t see a good Judas at all. In fact, this Judas seemed more evil than ever. Those early voices of dissent have since grown into a chorus, some of whom argue that National Geographic’s handling of the project amounts to scholarly malpractice. It’s a perfect example, critics argue, of what can happen when commercial considerations are allowed to ride roughshod over careful research. What’s more, the controversy has strained friendships in this small community of religion scholars — causing some on both sides of the argument to feel, in a word, betrayed.

Christian “Gospel of Judas’ is heresy & unreliable history, profs say by Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press

“It presents a completely different cosmology and theology from what we find in the New Testament,” said George Guthrie, the Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible at Union University, a Baptist-affiliated university in Jackson, Tenn.

Guthrie and other Christian studies faculty members at Union said the Gospel of Judas document is unreliable as a source for the actual historical events in the life of Jesus and promotes the heresy of Gnosticism, an ancient teaching condemned by the early Christian church.

“It is not in any way, shape or form a writing that tells us anything reliable about either the real Jesus or Judas,” added Greg Thornbury, dean of Union’s school of Christian studies.

Thornbury referred to a quote from Elaine Pagels, a Princeton University religion professor who was a paid consultant for the National Geographic project that translated and published the Gospel of Judas. Pagels pointed out that the people who wrote and circulated these gospels “did not think they were heretics.”

“When do heretics admit that what they believe is, in fact, heresy?” Thornbury asked. “Whether one is talking about the fourth century or the 21st century, there has been no shortage of people trying to discredit the Christian faith.”

Ray Van Neste, associate professor of Christian studies at Union, said it’s important to distinguish between authentic and authoritative.

“Sure it’s authentic, meaning it came from that time,” Van Neste said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the true gospel.”

Christian The Gospel of Judas is Ideology Masquerading as Theology Dr. Tony Beam

The Gnostic Gospels represent a body of material written at least 200 years after the four gospels of the New Testament. The early Christian community treated these writings as heretical from the beginning and they were soundly rejected by most all of the Church Fathers. They are second century rantings which do not match the eyewitness accounts of the four Gospels. There are literally hundreds of these Gnostic, apocryphal texts which tell us nothing about the Bible and much about the competing false religious systems which attempted to supplant Christianity while it was still in its infancy.

Secular The Hunt for the Gospel of Judas English language translation of an article in Dutch news daily, Het Parool, Mar. 26, 2005.

Why did one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the century remain hidden for such a long time? Almost two thousand years the ‘blasphemous’ Gospel of Judas was banned by the Church. Until the seventies of last century when Egyptian farmers accidentally found a copy in a cave. But even long afterwards nobody dared to get their fingers burned by the manuscript. “Forget the Da Vinci code, this is the real thing!”

Christian A Layman’s Guide the Gospel of Judas By Chris Price, at the Christian CADRE blog.

In short, the Gospel of Judas is an interesting historical find that should shed some light on Gnostic thought and second-century interactions between Christians and Gnostic Christians. As compared to the Christian Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, not to mention Paul’s letters, they are worthless as sources of information about the real Jesus and about the beliefs of the earliest Christians.

Christian Responding to ‘The Gospel of Judas’ by Albert Mohler

The truth of the Gospel stands, and Christians will retain firm confidence in the authenticity of the New Testament and, in particular, of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Nevertheless, old Gnosticisms are continually repackaged and “rediscovered” even as new forms of Gnostic thought emerge in our postmodern culture.

Informed Christians will be watchful and aware when confronting churches or institutions that present spurious writings, rejected as heretical by the early church, on the same plane as the New Testament.

Christian Why the Church Triumphed Over the Gnostics, by Bill Patenaude

In actuality, the discovered texts, while a considerable historical find, seem to be adding little to what was already known about Gnostic theology, from the evidence that had been available for many centuries.

Nevertheless, the discovery struck a nerve with some who find mainstream Christian theology and morality to be distasteful, or who claim that the early church suppressed Gnostic theology in a bid for political domination. Most media outlets are keen on the metaphor of faiths’ “fighting it out,” and so they inaccurately describe Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity as vying for the same (and apparently very gullible) audience.

But what is often lacking in recent accounts of Gnosticism is the critical admission that these dead religions — besides typically denying Christ’s birth, execution, and resurrection — selfishly play up a devotion to personal “inner awakenings,” while demoting social responsibility and morality, as well as self-sacrifice.

Hence the heresy: In denying Christ’s incarnation, human reality becomes separate and subordinate to esoteric spirituality. Structurally, then, Gnosticism could not — and cannot — focus well on the troubles of humanity.

So the church did what it had to do. It vigorously rejected Gnostic influences and sustained its canon by remaining faithful to the fundamental teachings of Christ, as passed on by the apostolic communities that actually knew him.


Secular The Gospel of Judas by Bart D. Ehrman (Commentary), Rodolphe Kasser (Editor), Marvin Meyer (Editor), Gregor Wurst (Editor). National Geographic’s efforts to redefine the Christian Gospel guided by scraps of a text declared to be heretical by the early church.
Secular The Secrets of Judas : The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and His Lost Gospel by James M. Robinson

“I write as a scholar, and, as you will see as you read my narration, I have been involved to a very large extent over the past generation in this adventure. Yet you will also see me, in my capacity as scholar, expressing dismay, even disgust, over much of what has gone on. I lay it all out, with as much documentation as I can muster, for you to see for yourself.”
– Source: – James M. Robinson, Preface to The Secrets of Judas


Christian Video: The Gospel of Judas by Phil Fernandes, the Senior Pastor of Trinity Bible Fellowship and the founder and president of the Institute of Biblical Defense, an apologetics ministry which trains Christians in the defense of the faith.

News and News Archive

Apologetics Index research resource Gospel of Judas news tracker

See Also

Äpologetics Gnosticism
Christian Gnosticism and the Gnostic Jesus by Douglas Groothuis
Christian The Gnostic Gospels: Are They Authentic? by Douglas Groothuis
Apologetics Index research resource How were the books of the New Testament chosen? Richard N. Ostling
Apologetics Index research resource “You Can’t Trust the Gospels. They’re Unreliable.”

Web Sites

Christian Jesus of Nazareth in Early Christian Gospel Translations of bibliographies for gospels from the first two centuries.
Secular The Lost Gospel of Judas National Geographic
Secular Michel van Rijn Dutch art dealer Michel van Rijn’s web site exposes shady art deals. Read his extensive information on the Gospel of Judas

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First published (or major update) on Tuesday, April 11, 2006.
Last updated on July 18, 2008.

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