Sunday, November 26, 2006


(For anyone who is interested, my book is available; to get to where it can be ordered, just click on the link/picture at right.)

Jesus and Judas, Jesus and Judas, Jesus and Judas. Their names are linked forever, whether you consider the historical Jesus and Judas, or the mythical Jesus and Judas Iscariot.

Ben Witherington III has been widely quoted as saying that the "new" Gospel of Judas has nothing to tell us about the historical Jesus and the historical Judas. On his blog, he said that he called fellow scholar Amy-Jill Levine to get her opinion and she agreed.

Scholars rarely tell us what they mean. It's even less likely they'll tell us what they feel. In a more honest world, Witherington and Levine would have said: We don't want the Gospel of Judas to tell us anything of historical value. Just as they suppress any historical evaluation of the canonical Gospels.

There's a mighty big difference between not knowing and not wanting to know, between a document really telling us nothing and scholars wanting it to reveal nothing

The most interesting statement in the Gospel of Judas, as almost everyone has observed, is when Jesus tells Judas to help arrange his death. It is interesting because I have been arguing for years, long before the contents of this lost Gospel were publicly made known, that a rational analysis of the canonical Gospels, and especially of Mark, tells us that Judas could not possibly have been a traitor. The clues do not add up to that. The Gospels rather tell us that Jesus must have asked him to do it. Judas did only as Jesus asked. I explain it fully in my book.

I am not entirely alone in this. In 1996, William Klassen also argued this in "Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus?". But nobody was listening. They are still not listening. Klassen admitted that he didn't know exactly what was going on (why would Jesus do this?), but he was sure it could not have been a betrayal. He was right. In my book, I give the full answer.

So the "new" Gospel confirms a rational analysis of the four main Gospels. Elaine Pagels was closer than all these other scholars who dismiss Judas' Gospel when she said that the view in this Gospel is not far-fetched. It does make some sense as close to what the long-standing Gospels have told us. She has no idea how right she is.

Next time, I'll provide a brief summary of the rational assessment of the historical clues the Gospels have given us. Look and ye shall see, or something like that.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


... it really is possible to study the Gospels rationally and come to some definite historical conclusions. That it is never done does not mean it cannot be done. That there is a fear of rational study of the Gospels or any part of the Bible does not mean it should not be done.

I am talking ideals here, though ideals that can be accomplished. In the real world we live in, fear is always a good reason not to do anything. At any rate, fears exist. I explore some of them in my book. Scholars have not been immune to these fears. Whether frank discussion will help us to face them is open to question.

What is not open to question is that rational study of the Gospels is possible. It really can be done. Much of the news is good for Christianity. There is a secure historical foundation for the idea that Jesus' death was a self-conscious sacrifice, though the real events are different from what tradition tells us. There is no foundation, however, for the very false idea that Jesus was persecuted by any Jews. The Gospels just don't support that.

What they do support are Jewish leaders and Judas helping Jesus to the very end. It is purely a witch trial that convicts Jewish leaders and Judas for complicity in Jesus' death. I am justified in calling it a witch trial because scholars have erased much of the evidence in the Gospels and in Josephus which exonerates Jesus' fellow Jews and, in a few cases, they have invented evidence to convict them. Modern scholars are very much to blame for this continuing witch trial.

This book ends that trial. The picture of the book at right is a link to where it can be ordered.

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