Friday, March 30, 2018

Judas and the Gospel of Jesus by N.T. Wright

Have a blessed Easter weekend everyone! 

My uncle managed to help me borrow this book so I finally got to read it! I heard it was a good explanation of Gnosticism vs Christianity and it didn’t disappoint.

Judas and the Gospel of Jesus focuses on the Gospel of Judas (which you can read online just by googling - it’s only 7 pages long). It’s supposed to turn Christianity upside down because in this story, Judas is the hero because Jesus told Judas to go betray him.

But before you throw out your Bible in despair, here’s what you need to know about Gnosticism. It’s very different from Christianity, as you can see by looking at the following characteristics:

- Gnosticism has what the book called a “deep and dark dualism.” It believes that this world we live in is full of wickedness and evil and if it wasn’t for an evil god that created it, wouldn’t exist at all.

- Apart from the evil god, there is a pure and wide and tue god who is different from the creator god.

- Therefore, the aim of the human is to escape from this material world and into a purer, higher spiritual existence

- And you get this ‘salvation’ from a special secret knowledge (gnosis) from a ‘revealer’

As you can see, this is not even similar to what Christianity teaches.

So while this later writing (and it is definitely written after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) provides an interesting view of how some people back then thought, it’s not really Christian at all. Even though it’s called the gospel of Judas, it’s not really a Gospel the way Christians use the word.

Side note: some scholars have suggested that the Jesus in this gnostic Gospel is more humorous because he laughs but actually the laughter in the Gospel of Judas is mocking laughter rather than humour

The book also places the gospel of Judas and Gnosticism in the correct historical context. The Christians weren’t persecuting a valid alternative of Christianity in order to gain power. In fact, it’s the Christians who were dying for their faith while “the Gnostics were the cultural conservatives, sticking with the kind of religion that everyone already knew” and basically doing their best to avoid martyrdom. That means that the Church was merely defending their faith and following Jesus.

The last chapter of the book looks at how strains of gnostic thought has invaded society and how this has made everyone so eager for some new claim to ‘truth’. It’s a pretty sobering chapter because he shows that even Christians are subject to conspiracy theories.

If you’re interested in finding out what Gnosticism is, you definitely have to read this. It’s a pretty short book but it packs a lot of information. The language is also very clear and you definitely don’t have to be a Bible scholar to follow the arguments.

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