Friday, April 07, 2006

Addendum on the Gospel of Judas

I wanted to draw attention to this NY Sun article (editorial?) about the G of J published today.

I'm not as immediately suspicious of the National Geographic Society's motives in all this. But Bruce Chilton, who wrote this article, does draw an important distinction between two kinds of authenticity: 1. the G of J as an authentic c. fourth century text representing the thought of this particular sect of Gnostics, on which basis this is without doubt a significant find, and 2. an authentic account of the actual relationship between Judas and Jesus, to which it has no more claim (and because of its late date, much less) than the canonical Gospels.

Of course more sensational news stories will suggest it could be authentic in the second sense, but there's no compelling reason to think so, unless you prefer the Gnostic version of the story. The problem with the first sort of authenticity is that it is then only of interest to a specialized group of people, the sort who would slobber all over themselves if a museum curator found another hundred lines of Menander in a mummy case (this happens!), among whom you may count Justin and me, but we don't read Newsweek.

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