Where does the gnostic belief that the Old Testament God is the Demiurge and not the true creator come from?  Also, where did the belief in archons tricking people into being reincarnated at death come from?  I’ve been reading some material about this and it has troubled me.  What is the evidence against these claims, and what is the right biblical answer to these questions?


Gnosticism is one of the flavors of religion in the Greek world at the time of the New Testament. This philosophy/religion flourished, especially in the second century.  Gnosticism was not a Christian religion.  It borrowed its ideas from the Mystery religions that were common in the Mediterranean area.  There were many of these Mystery religions. Some followed Dionysis as their Mystery religion cult.  Strangely (to us anyway) some had Jesus as the head of their Mystery religion.  They adapted the most popular god/man “myth” of the time and incorporated it into their philosophy. This is a simplification, but I hope it helps.  At the center of these religions was a sort of “hidden” deep knowledge which was only revealed to the initiates.  This is the source of the name Gnosticism, as the Greek word gnosis means knowledge.  There were these secret cultic rites which produced a kind of religious experience.  Another aspect of Near Eastern religion which was incorporated into Gnosticism is Dualism.  There were a number of dualistic religions in the Mediterranean area in the first and second centuries. There was Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Manichaeism (actually a bit later).  These religions stressed that there were a more or less equally balanced good and evil.  For the dualists, physical things are evil and spiritual things are good. This is the source of much of the Gnostic thinking.  To them, anything physical was inherently evil.  Therefore, the Old Testament, which stressed more earthly/physical things, was evil and therefore the Old Testament God was evil.

To the Gnostics, Jesus was fully spiritual, and therefore was a demiurge.  His physical nature was an illusion.  He only appeared to be physical. The technical term for this theology is adoptionism, because, to them, Jesus simply adopted a physical body, but he was not physical.  He did not become flesh.  This is why John stressed that we touched Jesus in 1 John 1.  A great example of this kind of thinking is in the Gospel of Judas.  In this “gospel” (which is not a gospel at all, because it does not have Jesus doing miracles, and does not even include his death and resurrection), Judas did a favor to Jesus when he killed him, because he freed Jesus from the body he had been trapped in!!!  Judas is the hero of this supposed gospel. In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus initiates Judas into the “deeper” knowledge about the different levels of emanations, such as archons and aeons and demiurges from an unknowable and very distant God.  Jesus is also known as Seth in this gospel.  The Old Testament is evil and its priests are a cult of evil.

It is important to note that gnosticism was essentially a non-Christian religion.  In the Nag Hamadi Library, a large cache of Gnostic writings found in Egypt, there were pseudo-Christian Gnostic writings, but there were also Gnostic letters which had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity.  In fact, there were some books which were virtually identical, except one used Christian imagery and the other did not.  “Christian” Gnosticism was really just Gnosticism given a thin veneer of Christianity.  Gnostics simply stole the latest god-man figure and used him as the cult figure for their latest incarnation of a Mystery religion.  I wrote an article about the Gospel of Judas a few years ago and am copying and pasting it below.  It will give you a lot more details about the Gospel of Judas, but also about Gnostic thinking.

As for archons “tricking people into being reincarnated at death,” to be honest, I do not know about that.  I am sure there are many flavors of Gnosticism.  I would not be surprised that one form of Gnosticism included reincarnation, but, I am not aware of this particular idea.

You do not need any “evidence” against these claims because there is not any evidence to support these claims.  That the Gnostic version of Jesus is not true is self-evident. Those who actually knew Jesus and were trained by him left several accounts of his life within a generation of his death.  To be exact, there were for of these accounts: they are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  There is tremendous evidence that these gospels are reliable accounts, written in the first century, of the life of the actual person Jesus of Nazareth.  Luke is a historian of great ability. His accounts are full of details which can be checked from outside sources.  We have archaeological evidence confirming Sergius Paulus, Gallio, Erastus, Pontius PIlate and others.  We have the Old Testament which is completely in agreement with the New Testament.  Unlike in Gnosticism, Jesus used the Old Testament often and, obviously, considered the God of the Old Testament to be good.   The Gnostic gosples were not written until well into the second century.  They have absolutely clear evidence of being influenced by Greek Dualism and Mystery cults.  There is literally zero evidence supporting the view of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas.  These books are self-refuting.  If you want to help someone to see this, you simply need to explain the source of this clearly non-Jewish philosophy/religion.  The Gnostic Jesus is not a Jewish Jesus, but we know from every historical account, including those of non-Christians, that Jesus was a Jew and that what he taught was in concert with Jewish thinking.  Gnosticism is NOT Christian and Gnostic ideas have no place in Christianity.

John Oakes

Judas:  Another Gospel?[1]


“The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot.”  These words begin a startling new discovery, announced to the world in April of this year.  First there was the Da Vinci Code, now there is the Gospel of Judas.  It seems like when it rains it pours.  On the face of it, the apostle who betrayed Jesus is an unlikely candidate for writing an inspired account of the life of Jesus, especially if we consider that he killed himself the day Jesus died.  When did he write this book?  If we are to believe the National Geographic article which announced the translation of the Gospel of Judas from the Coptic language, this is one of a number of equally valid traditions about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  If this is true, then it will radically change our concept of the relationship between Jesus and the disciples.  In the newly discovered gospel, Judas is the closest of all the apostles to Jesus.  He is the one who received a special, deeper knowledge of the Kingdom of God from Jesus.  Is the manuscript a legitimate ancient copy of the Gospel of Judas?  What is the basic message of this “gospel?”  What is its relevance to Christianity and to the accepted canon of scripture?  Does it throw any new light on the canonical gospels?


Is the Gospel of Judas a Legitimate Document?


Perhaps some of us hope that this whole thing will turn out to be a hoax.  Like it or not, the Gospel of Judas is very real, and the manuscript uncovered in the desert in Egypt 1970’s, is certainly not a forgery.  After its discovery, the twenty-six page manuscript (actually, part of a longer, 66-page codex which includes other Gnostic writings) languished untranslated for over two decades in the collections of various dealers in antiquities because its owners did not realize its significance.  The codex is made of very fragile papyrus and it had deteriorated significantly in the nearly thirty years since its recovery.  Although the original Gospel of Judas was almost certainly in Greek, this manuscript is written in Coptic.  This was the local language of Egypt in the early centuries AD.  Coptic script is very closely related to Greek writing.  Finally, in 2000, the Coptic language scholar Rodolphe Kasser got a hold of this papyrus.  He must have been shocked to realize he had in his hand a copy of the long lost and long reviled Gospel of Judas.

It is important to note that the existence of this “gospel” has been known to scholars for centuries.  Although no manuscript of the letter was discovered until this century, the early church father, Irenaeus, mentioned the book in around AD 180.  He quoted from it in his polemic treatise Against Heresies.  Irenaeus fiercely denounced the message of Judas for its Gnostic underpinning, calling it a “fictitious history.”  From Irenaeus’ reference, scholars have guessed that this apocryphal letter was written somewhere around AD 150.  The original was in Greek, so the manuscript discovered in Egypt is a translation.  Its authenticity had been confirmed, both by the composition of the ink used and by Carbon-14 dating, which places the papyrus between AD 220 and 340.


What is the Message of the Letter?


            The controversy over the Gospel of Judas manuscript does not stem from a debate over its authenticity.  It is the message and the events portrayed in the letter which has generated a lot of heat.  We should bear in mind, however, that although we have a lot of new information about this letter, the general thrust of its content was already known from the comments of Irenaeus.

Let us consider the content of this very controversial manuscript.  First of all, it is important to note that it is not really a gospel, if we allow the four canonical gospels to define the term.  It is not a biography of Jesus.  It does not include the passion events, it does not show him healing people or preaching to the people.  It does not provide any sort of chronological picture of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  This letter is only about 3200 words long, which makes it equivalent to three or four chapters worth of material from one of the canonical gospels.  The document contains a number of very obtuse allegorical/philosophical statements which are obviously a reflection, not of genuine events from the life of Jesus, but of Gnostic philosophical speculation (more on Gnosticism below).

The reader should bear in mind that the Gospel of Judas is just one of dozens of known Gnostic pseudo-gospels.  Others include the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Secret Book of John, the Gospel of Phillip and many more.  These books are considered pseudepigraphal, which means that the authorship is clearly not by the person after whom the book is named.  No scholar claims that Mary wrote the gospel of Mary or that Thomas wrote the Gospel of Thomas.  The same can be said for the Gospel of Judas.  Whatever its source, it certainly was not written by or even influenced by Judas.

If the National Geographic sponsors of the translation are to believed (See the May, 2006 volume of National Geographic), the historical reliability of Matthew and John are more or less on par with this book.  The National Geographic authors claim that the Ebionites, the Marcionites, the Gnostics and the main stream of Christianity—the one which eventually won out—are equally Christian.  Their picture of Christianity in the first three centuries is one of a fluid religion with no clear “correct” teaching or story of Jesus.  We will see that this view does not hold up to good scholarship.

Let us consider some of the “historical” events portrayed in this document.  When we do so, we will soon see that the content of the Gospel of Judas is nothing short of bizarre by comparison to the accepted gospels.  There are a few passages in Judas which are vaguely familiar.  Jesus tells his followers not to sow seed on rock and expect to harvest the fruit, reminiscent of Matthew 13:5.  He also describes coming from a place which no eye has ever seen and no thought of the heart has ever comprehended (recognize 1 Corinthians 2:9?).  Beyond a small number of familiar allusions, the book veers dramatically from the four gospels.  In the book, Jesus heaps contempt on the apostles.  He often laughs at them for their ignorance of the deeper mysteries.  The disciples tell Jesus of a vision of the temple with twelve priests before an altar accepting gifts.  The priests sacrifice their wives and children, engage in homosexual acts and commit other heinous sins.  Jesus tells the apostles that the priests in the vision are symbols of the apostles themselves (and by implication, the Jews).  “Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar—that is who you are.”  “That is the God you serve.” (Gospel of Judas p. 38).  For those not familiar with Gnosticism this may seem strange.  However, if we understand that the Gnostics, including the writer of the Gospel of Judas, considered the God of the Old Testament to be an evil God, then this passage makes sense.[2]  Another passage in Judas confirms this Gnostic perspective.  “The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray (Gospel of Judas, p. 39)

Most of the last half of the Judas letter puts a confusing treatise on Gnostic cosmology into the mouth of Jesus.  “Come, that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] ever seen.  For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent no generation of angels has seen…” (GJ, p. 47).  The secret cosmology which Jesus reveals to his closest apostle, Judas, includes seventy-two luminaries, or perhaps it is three hundred and sixty, or perhaps it is twelve.  That is unclear.  There are twelve aeons (see below on Gnosticism) and six heavens for each of the aeons to dwell in, along with five firmaments for each of the seventy-two heavens.  Unfamiliar characters in this cosmology (except to the initiates of Gnosticism, of course)  include Nebro Yaldabaoth, Saklas, Galila, Yobel and Adonaios.  Jesus is also known as Seth, and he is one of the five rulers over the underworld.

The key line of the entire gospel is found near the end.  “But you [ie. Judas] will exceed all of them.  For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.” (GJ, p. 56).  The Judas letter writer has Jesus praising Judas as the greatest of all the apostles.  Why?  Because he betrayed him to the Jewish leaders for execution.  Believe it or not, as we will see below, this statement actually makes sense if one follows Gnostic philosophy. The bizarre content of the Gospel of Judas begs the question:  Is it reasonable to believe that these are the actual words of Jesus?


Who are the Gnostics?


“For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”  If he had not given himself away before this, the writer of Judas makes it clear what his philosophical perspective is when he put these words into the mouth of Jesus.  This is a clear statement of the Gnostic idea.  It is not possible to understand the origin or message of the Gospel of Judas without some background in the Gnosticism of the first, second and third centuries AD.  Let us consider the nature of Gnostic Christianity.

It is important to bear in mind that Gnostics who called themselves Christians in the early centuries AD had a broad range of beliefs.  The teaching of the orthodox Christian church varied somewhat, but the church’s doctrines and organization was fairly consistent.  That was definitely not the case with the Gnostics.  It is also important to recognize that the source of Gnostic teaching was not Christianity.  From their writings, we can observe that the teachings of the Gnostics was based principally in the Mystery religions (such as the cults of Dionysius and Osiris), Near Eastern Dualism (such as Zoroastrianism and Mithraism) as well as neo-Platonist philosophy as exemplified by the teaching of Plotinus.  At the risk of oversimplifying, Gnostic practice was based on the Mystery religions, its theology was based on dualistic religion, its philosophy was based on neo-Platonism, and its story was based on Christianity.  When scholars study the Gnostic writings, such as the Gospel of Thomas, and in particular when we study the Gospel of Judas, it is fair to describe these “gospels” as Gnostic religion dressed up to look like Christianity.  As an example of this, the Nag Hamadi, a library of Gnostic writings found in Egypt in the 1940s, contains two similar books.  One of them, the “Book of Eugnostos the Blessed” is a Greek neo-Platonist speculation.  Another of them, known as the “Sophia of Jesus Christ,” has virtually the identical material, except that the words of Greek philosophical speculation in Eugnostos are put into the mouth of Jesus Christ in the latter work.  Clearly Greek philosophy has been given a “Christian” veneer.

The cultic practice underlying Gnosticism finds its roots in the Mystery religions which pervaded the Roman Empire at that time.  The Greek mystery religion was the cult of Dionysius.  The equivalent in Egypt was the cult of Osiris.  The Mysteries were ritualistic/symbolic rites which led the initiates into an ever deeper knowledge of “God.”  The practitioners were sworn to secrecy with regard to these rites.  Followers of the mystery cults were given successively deeper knowledge of the meaning of the cultic practices.  This is the source of the word Gnostic, which comes from the Greek ginosko, or knowledge.  We do not know a lot about the actual mystery rites because of the enforced secrecy, but hints from Greek writers give us some glimpses into the Baccanalia—the chief festival of the Dionysius cult.  This days-long festival included sexual activity, alcohol and other inducements which produced an ecstatic religious experience for the participants.

The influence of the Mystery religions on the Gospel of Judas is obvious.  The Judas letter has Jesus saying to Judas, “[Come] that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] ever seen.  For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent no generations of angels has seen.” (GJ, p. 47).  In the Judas account, Jesus is a sort of personal spiritual guru, with Judas as his closest student.  Jesus says to Judas, “step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom.” (GJ, p. 39). The question to be asked is this: Which is more likely; that the writer of the Gospel of Judas was influenced by the actual relationship between Jesus and Judas or that he was influenced by the Mystery religions?

The theology of the Gospel of Judas is at least in part explained by influence from the many dualistic religions common in the Near East at that time.  Most familiar to modern readers is Zoroastrianism, because a small remnant of this religion lives on today, mostly in India.  The religion finds its roots in present-day Iran.  Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Mithraism all find their beginnings in Persia or the Eastern Roman Empire.  Of course these groups had beliefs which varied, but their chief relevant quality for us is found in the belief that the world is in a more or less equal battle between the forces of good and evil.  The god of good and the god of evil are in battle over earthly souls.  Dualism finds its influence in Gnosticism and in the Gospel of Judas.  The Gnostics believed that Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament was an evil God who brought destruction on God’s people.  According to this view, Jesus is a teacher of the God of good.  He is spiritual, whereas Jehovah is physical and earthly.  As an example of this connection between dualism and Gnosticism, consider the theology of one of the most influential Gnostic teachers, Marcion.  We know from his writings that he rejected the entire Old Testament, as well as most of the gospels because they were too Jewish and because they were influenced by the teaching about Jehovah.  Marcion taught that Jehovah is the enemy of true spirituality—that he is a worldly and evil god.  Marcion based his canon principally on the writings of Paul.  Influence of dualism on the Gospel of Judas is found in the section already mentioned in which Jesus tells the apostles, “the cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray.” (GJ, p. 39).  The Gospel of Judas paints the picture of temple sacrifice as blasphemously sinful.

Lastly, but perhaps most profoundly, Gnostic writings such as the Gospel of Judas are influenced by Greek philosoply—especially neo-Platonism.  Greek philosophy from the time of Pythagorus, through Plato, and most significantly for Gnosticism, Plotinus, had created a picture of the earth as a physical and therefore a very evil place.  The goal of every human was to escape the physical world through Mystery religion practices or through philosophical speculation, in order to move to the higher, spiritual plane of existence.  In diametric opposition to this picture, the Old Testament, confirmed by the New Testament, creates the picture of the created world as being essentially good (Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”).  Not so with neo-Platonism.  The physical world, as represented by Jehovah or by Adam, is essentially evil.  The goal is to escape the physical to experience the spiritual quintessence.  This explains the central teaching of Gnostics about Jesus.  According to them, Jesus was not a physical being at all.  He could not be.  The person we recognize as Jesus was an illusion, or perhaps he was a shell which was temporarily occupied by the entirely spiritual Jesus Christ.  Thus the statement of Jesus to Judas as mentioned above:  “For you shall sacrifice the man that clothes me.”  In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus is a spiritual being who has been trapped in a physical body.  The body is not Jesus.  In that case, Jesus was not killed on the cross.  Therefore, Judas did a favor to Jesus by freeing him from the sinful, gross physical reality of a human body.

Of course, this is in diametric opposition to what is the commonly accepted theology of virtually all of those who call themselves Christians today. From the beginning, the church has taught that Jesus was both God and human being.  This well-established doctrine was put in writing at the Council of Nicea in AD 325.  It is just this heretical teaching (that Jesus was not flesh) which is being opposed by John in 1 John 1:1, “That which was from the beginning, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”  In Gnosticism (and in neo-Platonism), the true, spiritual God is a lofty being, far separated from the world.  This “God” is certainly not interested in a personal relationship with human beings.  This is the God of the Gospel of Judas.  The real God is so distant from human beings that out of his thoughts he created lesser beings, known as “aeons.”  These neo-Platonic “aeons” are the same beings identified by Jesus to Judas in the recently published letter.  One of the aeons is Sophia (Greek for wisdom), also knows as Barbelo.  Both find themselves in the Gospel of Judas.  To Gnostics, Sophia’s thoughts led to the creation of an evil god, Ialdabaoth (also known as Nebro), who later created the god of Genesis, YHWH, Jehovah.  All of these neo-Platonic characters are found in the Gospel of Judas. This bumbling, evil god created a disastrous world in which little sparks of the divine are trapped inside an evil body.   From neo-Platonism we get Gnostic philosophy/religion, from which we get the Gospel of Judas.  The line of connection is absolutely clear.

In the final analysis, Gnostic “Christianity” is not Christian at all, and neither is the Gospel of Judas Christian.  This statement is true if we define a Christian teaching or writing as being based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Gnostic belief is based on an amalgam of the popular philosophy and religion of the Eastern Mediterranean, with only a thin veneer of pseudo-Christian teaching.  Gnostic teachers are called the antichrists in 1st John chapter two, and for good reason, because “no one who denies the Son has the Father.”


How is This Discovery Relevant to Our Understanding of Christianity?


What is the relevance of the Gospel of Judas to Christianity?  The simple answer is little if any.  This discovery will be of great interest to the scholars of Near Eastern religion in the Roman Empire during the Pax Romana.  Such scholars already have a number of such documents, especially from the Nag Hamadi library, but the Gospel of Judas will be an interesting addition to the extant Gnostic literature.  Having said that, we will learn nothing new at all about Jesus, his life, his teaching or his ministry from this obvious Gnostic treatise because it has virtually no basis in the life of Jesus Christ.  If we read the recent National Geographic article, announcing the completion of the restoration and translation of the Gospel of Judas, we will get a very different picture.  The editors of the article imply that there were a number of competing versions of Christianity as well as a number of competing written gospels in the second and third centuries AD.  The Marcionites, the Ebionites, the Gnostics, the Carpocratians and what we now consider the orthodox Christians all had more or less equally valid interpretations of the teaching of Jesus, if National Geographic is to be believed.  By extention, the Gnostic writings, including the Gospel of Judas had equal footing with the canonical Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  To quote the NG writer, “In fact it is unclear whether the authors of any of the gospels—even the familiar four—actually witnessed the events they described.”

The problem with this viewpoint is that it is completely disproven by the facts as we know them.  Those who seek to stir up trouble for crusty, conservative, old, boring Christian belief (the kind through which people will be saved) want to create the false impression that these alternative gospels and other apocryphal writings have equal authority with the accepted New Testament books.  Let us consider the evidence.

First let it be noted that the Gnostics were stepchildren of the Mystery religions.  The practitioners of the Mystery cults used mythical stories as an allegorical means to tell a deeper story.  For the Gnostic, the use of myth and symbolic story, with no basis in actual, historical fact, was standard operating procedure.   When one reads the Gospel of Judas, it is worth bearing in mind that the author did not expect the reader to take the story as history.  This certainly is not the case with the writers of the four canonical gospels.  For example, in both his gospel, and Acts, Luke went out of his way to mention places, the names of rulers, the direction of travel from one place to another and the specific titles of leaders of different cities.  Historians and archaeologists have confirmed many of Luke’s facts.  To date, not a single one of his historical details has proven false.  Luke interviewed eye-witnesses (Luke 1:1-3).  All of the gospel writers included minute details in the events they described (thirty pieces of silver, details of distances, time of day and so forth), creating an unmistakable sense that they were first hand accounts.  One gets the strong impression that the gospel writers were including such small details as if to say, “If  you are not sure, ask the people who were there.”

The author of the National Geographic article on the Gospel of Judas tries to instill doubt about whether the gospels are indeed reliable.  One means to that end is to create the impression that the gospels were not written until the second century.  The problem with this is that the evidence does not allow for such a late composition of the canonical gospels.  Support for this comes from at least two sources.  First, we have a number of actual manuscripts of New Testament writings from as early as the second century.  The earliest confirmed date for a manuscript is the Rylands Papyrus, which has been dated by both carbon-14 and by script style to about AD 125. In addition, there exist a large body of letters written by the early church “fathers” such as Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and others. These early Christian writers from the very late first and the second century AD quoted extensively from every part of the New Testament. The letters known as the Epistle of Barnabus, the Didache and the Letter of Clement of Rome have all been dated from around 100 AD. These authors quote from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews, I Peter and others. The early church father Ignatius was martyred in 115 AD. In a set of letters he composed on his way to his execution in Rome, he quoted from nearly every New Testament book.  One could continue by mentioning the much more extensive writings of Justin Martyr from around 150 AD, and those of Iranaeus, from near the end of the second century. Justin called the gospels the “memoirs of the apostles.” Experts have claimed that using quotes from early Christian writers in the second century, one could reconstruct nearly the entire text of the New Testament.   Nearly all scholars agree that Matthew Mark and Luke were written before AD 70.  John was almost certainly written before AD 90, and probably at least ten years before that.

Let us compare the evidence for the early authorship and accurate history of the canonical gospels to Gnostic works such as Thomas and Judas. There is no evidence that these or any of the dozens of Gnostic letters were given any authority at all by the early church. The only time the early church writers referred to such books was to show why they were heretical. It is interesting to note that the earliest actual list of inspired books is that of the Gnostic leader Marcion.  Because he rejected the God of the Old Testament, the only gospel he included in his accepted list of books was Luke, but we can tell from his writings that he was aware of the other three.  What is notable is that even Marcion did not include any of the pseudepigraphical Gnostic writings in his canon.  Presumably, even the followers of the Gnostic philosophy were aware that the Gnostic letters did not have apostolic authority. Please do not be confused by those whose goal is not to discover the truth, but to confuse the minds of those who put their faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.  There is no justification for putting the Gospel of Judas in the same category as the four gospels.




The Gospel of Judas is an interesting discovery, especially to scholars who study Gnosticism and the influence of Greek philosophy and Near Eastern religion on heretical Christian groups.  Those who have implied that this book represents a story of the life of Jesus which is to be taken as seriously as the traditional gospels are flat wrong.  The bizarre story of Judas being the favorite of Jesus apostles—the one to whom he entrusted the secret, deep knowledge (gnosis) is simply not credible.  This story was made up out the imagination of a Gnostic writer, with the intent of putting the precepts of non-Christian Gnosticism into the mouth of Jesus.  The four canonical gospels are eye-witness accounts of the actual events in the life of Jesus Christ, with apostolic authorship or the stamp of apostolic approval.  To compare the Gospel of Judas to the Gospel of Matthew is to commit a gross error of logic and of scholarship.


John Oakes, PhD

[1] The author acknowledges use of an article on the subject by John Madden, a friend and philosophy professor at Cerritos College.

[2] Some have claimed that the Gospel of Judas, if accepted, might lead to a reduction in anti-Semitism.  The argument is that if Jesus wanted to be free from his body, then Judas was doing him a favor and the Jews would be less likely to be blamed for killing Jesus. The exact opposite is the case.  The Gospel of Judas is extremely anti-Jewish in sentiment.  It pictures Judaism as sinful in its essence and Jehovah as an evil God.  This picture would certainly not have reduced the blatant anti-Semitism of Medieval and later Christianity.

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