Friday, April 07, 2006

Canon closed? : the Gospel of Judas Unearthed

What would happen if some archaeologists unearthed an ancient text and authenticated it to have been written roughly 1700 years ago, and the text was written by a man claiming to be the disciple Judas? If his story reveals what seems to be truth about God and history, does it belong in the Bible?

Recently, archaeologists unearthed an ancient codec that they have managed to restore and believe was written by Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Supposedly, in this manuscript, Judas claims to have been asked to betray Jesus by Jesus Himself. A National Geographic special exposing this event will air on television Sunday night at 8:00 PM. It should be pretty interesting.

You can download the entire document in English or Greek, or just read more about all of this at this site. If you go read through it, you will probably think of it as a complete JOKE. It contradicts too many biblical doctrines that are supported throughout the Old and New Testaments. However, it does bring up the question as to the Canon's finality.

I would never put this in the canonical Bible mainly because, if nothing else, the gospels we have right now are verified through many different ancient copies that support and agree with each other. The "Gospel of Thomas" does not have the support that the other gospels do, and considering that this new "gospel of Judas" doesn't either, I think it is worthy of reading for curiosity if nothing else, but it shouldn't be placed in the canonical Bible. I woudn't even give it apocryphal status. Don't move over, Maccabees.

Throughout the years and through His divine inspiration, God has led us to the canon we have today. However, I haven't studied a lot of apologetics on why the canon is closed, so I am open to hearing input. For well-informed thoughts on the subject, visit .


Blogger jeff said...

If Jesus asked Judas to betray him, then why did Judas hang himself? Also why does the other gospels say that "Satan entered him [Judas]" if he was following Jesus's orders? One thing about all the books of the Bible is that they are consistent with one another and do not contradict each other. This book is in no way inspired by God.

Fri Apr 07, 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger j.wo said...

You's interesting that you post about this. Just the other day, while I was waiting for my oil to get changed at Ken Towery's, they had CNN on, and I saw an advertisement for a special that Anderson Cooper was doing concerning this EXACT topic.

As a recently discovered text, I'm sure this new "book" will receive plenty of attention; and, no doubt, the media will attempt to exploit and contradict the Truth as much as possible.

I definitely think this is something we should pay attention to and study. Information is the best defense, and - obviously - this book seems to be purporting some myths (Jesus telling Judas to betray Him)that contradict the Truth.

As far as what constitutes canon, from my understanding, it's a combination of eye-witnesses of the early church tradition, apostolic authorship, text agreement, and other such consistencies.

Thanks for drawing our attention to this, Jonathan. This is a good post... After all, the Lord warned us to be on the lookout for "those who may add to His words" and other "false prophets."

Fri Apr 07, 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger R. Mansfield said...

The early church had a number of litmus tests to determine if a writing should be placed beside the Hebrew Bible as sacred scripture. One was whether or not it was written by an apostolic witness, or one who had direct access to an apostolic witness. Second, did the writing carry authority? Third, did the writing show evidence of divine inspiration.

Therefore, if we were to find Paul's missing letter to the Corinthians, or his missing letter to the Laodiceans, those still wouldn't qualify for canonical status, even if it could be verified that it was actually written from Paul. Because those letters evidently failed the second and third tests. How do we know that? We know that because we don't have widespread copies and evidence of them being passed among the churches.

Look at the Gospel of Judas. First of all, it's written after the time of any apostolic witness. We know this, not so much from the carbon dating, but from the content. The theology of it is not representative of anything extant from the first century. It hails possibly from the second century, or more likely the third or fourth. The fact that we only have one copy and it took us 1700 years to turn it up demonstrate that it failed the second and third test. It was seen by the early church to be fraudulent, heretical, and/or insignficant.

I've written three blogs today alone about the Gospel of Judas. I welcome you to come take a look and leave your thoughts.

God bless,

Rick Mansfield

Fri Apr 07, 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jeannine said...

reading through the document, i don't see how this possibly could be considered as part of Scripture.
i'm a bit confused with all the chunks missing, but from what i can make sense of what one part of the text is saying is that two angels (nebro and saklas) created six angels each and saklas told his angels "let us create human being" and created Adam and Eve.
first of all, since when did angels have the divine authority to create life, which is an attribute solely of God? secondly, this completely contradicts the book of Genesis and the true Gospels. third...what everyone else said.
so, really really old document? yes. part of the biblical canon? no.

Fri Apr 07, 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger R. Mansfield said...

In Platonic thought, the physical world is evil. So the gnostics didn't want God blamed for creating the world. According to which brand of gnosticism you choose, in some versions it is Satan (often equated with the god of the OT) who creates the world and in some versions, it is demigods, or in the case of gnostic Christianity, angels who create the world.

Fri Apr 07, 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Diet Coke Mania said...


Before anything can be added to the canon, it really needs to pass the following test:

1. It must have the literary quality of the rest of Scripture
2. The church must be in agreement that it should be included
3. It must not contradict the rest of Scripture.

From everything I've read about it, the document is fascniating but does not line up with the biblical record. It is hard to aruge with a book (Bible) that is composed of 66 works by 40 authors over 1500 years that has no contradictions. You can't throw out the Bible because of this one find. I know that is what many are going to want to do.


Sat Apr 08, 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Bradley said...


1) Find a good article on canonicity, and take notes. Chapter 4 of Intro to Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard is good (you might have read this already, but it might be good to revisit if not).

2) Once your done, you will see that HISTORICALLY speaking, there were explicit principles by which we established the canon. It seems that some of those who have commented here have arbitrarily added to these for whatever reason, so check it out for yourself.

3) Obviously, this new-found document would not belong to the canon. That for several reasons (more than I could list here). One of the most obvious princiles is this: does it contradict those writings which were unquestionably from the pen of the apostles? If so----eeeeeeeehhhhhhhh------it doesn't belong in the canon.

4) Finally, even if it was consistent with the teaching of the New Testament, it would not necessarily belong in the canon because a) it would imply a mistake in canonical development (which we hold to have been guided by the hand of providence in such a way that althought those who established the canon, hypothetically speaking, could have made a mistake---they didn't, and b) how have we come to so quickly forget the hype around the so called "brother of Jesus" which turned out to be a fraud---people in the middle east know how to strike nerves in Western Culture and make a killing in media.

So then: be patient, let scholars do their work, and it will be shown soon enough what is to become of this so called Judas document. Meanwhile, don't fret just because the world will take this as an occasion to undermine the validity of the New Testament canon.


Sat Apr 08, 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Everyone claims that this text is 1700 years old. I'm wondering what Judas' workout routine was to keep himself alive for 300 years. (I know scholars would say it's a copy, but we have older and more plentiful copies as pointed out.)

Mon Apr 10, 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger sajini said...

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Thu Apr 13, 12:11:00 PM  

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