Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 15, 2006
Media kisses reinvented Judas
Nothing in Gospel of Judas is historically reliable
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
"The Church is - I mean - it's just a bunch of, like, rules and stuff,"
Around AD 180, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon in what was then Roman Gaul, wrote a massive treatise called Against Heresies. The book was a fierce denunciation of all those whose views about Jesus and his message differed from those of the mainstream Church. Among those he attacked was a group who revered Judas, "the traitor," and had produced a "fictitious history," which "they style the Gospel of Judas."
The Church has always and everywhere held and continues to hold that the four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are of apostolic origin. For what the apostles preached in fulfilment of the commission of Christ, afterwards they themselves and apostolic authors, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing: the foundation of faith.
The Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day he was taken up into heaven.
The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus.
For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word" we might know "the truth" concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).
The fourfold Gospels are part of the canon of Scripture, that is, the measuring stick, the rule, the norm or standard of faith. They serve to determine, rule or measure other entities, such as the Gospel of Judas.
By the standard of canonicity, the Gospel of Judas fails miserably. It was unimportant to most Christians when it was written hundreds of years ago and it is unimportant today.
Catholic World News had its own take on the recent discovery. Here's an excerpt: "Archeological researchers in Ridgewood, New Jersey, have discovered an ancient Christian document that offers a radically new account of the founding of the Catholic Church.
The newly discovered document, which scholars have named The Gospel of Skip and Muffy, was found in an abandoned rowhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., which had formerly housed a Rutgers sorority. Theologians and anthropologists agree that The Gospel of Skip and Muffy is likely to cause intense debate among Christians, forcing a complete re-examination of all Catholic teachings.
There is no possible debate, however, about the authenticity of the document. "It was typed on an IBM Selectric II," reported Dr. Ernest Litewaite, an associate professor of contemporary archeology at Kutztown State. The document is believed to be a copy of an earlier statement, crafted by students at an East Coast private college sometime around 1970.
The Gospel of Skip and Muffy is an extended dialogue between two young theologians who take a startling new approach to the faith. The document suggests that young Christians of the 1970s generation did not accept Church teachings on some controversial moral issues.
B.F.D. Zeitgeist, a professor of serious Christianity at Dupont University, said the Gospel of Skip and Muffy will force Christians to re-examine the nature of Church authority. He pointed to one key passage in the manuscript: "The Church is - I mean - it's just a bunch of, like, rules and stuff," said Muffy. "Yeah," Skip replied. "I mean, really. Hey, don't let that thing go out."
Professor Litewaite said that he had found the manuscript of the Gospel of Skip and Muffy several months ago. "The significance of the discovery was immediately obvious," he said. "But my publicist suggested that I should wait until Holy Week to make it public."
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