Whilst the bible is special to Christians the world over, it would seem that the bible also has a special place in literature for non-Christians. It is possibly the only book which takes considerable, and constant, battering from the ideas and mythologies of the world. Of course this is nothing new, as this is what the Gnostics did, producing “gospels” with differing accounts to those of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John a century after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas is no exception. Ireneaus, a prominent Christian at the time these differing accounts were produced had no problem discounting them.
Irenaeus, an early Christian bishop, denounced it as heretical. He declared that, of the many gospels circulating at that time, just four should be recognised – those of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Times, April 07, 2006
Whilst the major discrepancies between the Gospel of Judas and the four Irenaeus accepted could be put down to differing opinions, looking closer at the text reveals the discrepancies of the Gospel of Judas to life in the 1st century. As quoted in The Times, Simon Gathercole puts it this way
“The so-called Gospel of Judas is certainly an ancient text, but not ancient enough to tell us anything new. It contains religious themes which are completely alien to the 1st-century world of Jesus and Judas, but which did become popular later, in the 2nd century. An analogy would be finding a speech claiming to be written by Queen Victoria, in which she talked about The Lord of the Rings and her CD collection.”The Times, April 07, 2006
In a way, inaccurate writings, such as the Gospel of Judas, just show how accurate and historical the bible is, however much people dislike it. Whilst the remains of many Gnostic writings few and far between, are dated centuries after the event, written by people who were far removed from the events, the New Testament can be shown to be written by witnesses to the events within decades and there are numerous remains of fragments and even whole codices.
Maybe this new found interest in biblical accuracy stirred up by the book, The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, might cause people to think about these things seriously? They might realise the bible stands up to historical investigation and comes out with a glowing report, with a good case for for it being historical fact, rather than just coming across as another great work of fiction. If they came across a volume containing the accounts, by many separate individuals, of the greatest event in all history, surely it would demand their attention? Then again, maybe people just ignore the bible because they fear what it might say, or of those who have looked into it maybe they just don’t like its message?