Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Intellectual Question: The Gospel of Judas

Judas is a hot dude these days. He even has his own gospel. Just take a look at other blogs, and the search keyword lists to see that a lot of people are talking and thinking about this. Check out this blog that I found while surfing yesterday as an example: boogala

So exactly what is this Gospel of Judas?
You can check these sources:
The Coptic Ps.Gospel of Judas: includes synopsis of text in English, Prof. Hans Van Oort’s opinion of the validity of the text, and a listing of the major news articles

Early Christian Writings: This is a scholarly run down of what is currently known
Hypotyposeis: gives a bit of the history of this “finding” including the fact that he posted on this very topic and document last year. A conspiracy that was not hidden? Now that’s new.
National Geographic:
Gives a teaser for their up coming special on the “Gospel of Judas”

This, finally, brings me to my Sunday Intellectual Question:

What do we consider to be our standard for evaluating the validity or truth of our sources?

In my high school history class we talked a lot about having a “primary source” to base our information on. This source could be a person who was at the event, or an original text (not comments upon or synopsis of the text). Of course, this can not be the end of our trust. Just because I was there or wrote something a long time ago doesn’t make what I say or write true. We need to evaluate source against source. Here’s some useful ways to evaluate:

1. Are there more than one “primary source”? If so does this account fit with the majority of those sources? If not, what about it does not fit?

2. Are there “hostile” primary sources available? (People of that time period who have no interest in forwarding the agenda of their “foes”) What do they say about the document? Do they praise it because the text is a clever invention of friends or are they startled that the majority are buying a lie? Do they give clues, even in their opposition, to the fact that the document may be valid or invalid? Is there a “united front” against the majority or do they give different reasons or stories than the people with which they are aligned.

3. Writing style, ‘paper’ used, knowledge of life and death of the author. Could the ‘supposed author’ have written the text? Is the writing and ‘paper’ in line with the time it was possible to have been written in? Keep in mind that Carbon Dating is only so accurate. It cannot, to my knowledge, get within a few hundred years accurately.

Pease join in with your comments and ideas or even extra links to this hot topic.

If you liked this post you may like:

Finding Sources
Can We Know All Things?
Religion and Politics


Bec said...

About the gospel of Judas - if Jesus and Judas had planned the betrayal, why would Judas have killed himself?

And I've dealt with enough sources lately in papers, that all I can say is primary counts if it's firsthand info and secondary about those who saw it.

Joel said...

Ok... you asked me for my take... well, here goes: The whole "news" with the so-called Gospel of Judas is non-news. It was known to be in existence for the past 1800 years. Several church fathers (pastors from the first to fourth centuries of Christendom) noted it as Gnostic heresy.

The Gnostics believe in a ying-yang kind of deity group, where the good
god comes and saves the day. Anyhow, gnostics were recognised very early as having NOTHING to do with real Christianity. They in turn had NOTHING to do with real Christianity, but went and did their own thing. A neat point to add as a side comment, those who say early Christendom had women priests, they are wrong, it was the Gnostics who had them, because the flesh was evil, only spirit mattered to them, so the husk of a woman was nothing!!!

Anyhow, this so-called Gospel of Judas was not kept hidden by the Christians, they just burnt every copy they came across to keep their people in the truth. This is not a cover up, its just getting rid of the garbage!!! Do you keep the old containers from Tim's to remind you what you drank just a little while ago? Garbage in, garbage out! Best keep it out in my opinion.

So there's the truth... you asked me for it! ;)

Alex said...

I liked the opinion of one Lutheran blogger, who mused that perhaps they had found an old Coptic toilet and that's why they found this manuscript there...

But yeah, Joel and I are on the same page on this one. Nothing to see here. Move along.