Gnostics: Did You Know?
LOST AND FOUND. In 2006, a published English translation and a documentary by the National Geographic Society sparked a storm of public interest in the "lost Gospel of Judas." The third- or fourth-century Coptic manuscript (probably translated from a second-century Greek text) was discovered in the 1970s, but it suffered three decades of mishandling, robbery, deterioration, and neglect before scholars could finally study, authenticate, and translate it. This may be the same Gospel of Judas mentioned by the Christian writer Irenaeus in his book Against Heresies in AD. 180. The Gospel of Judas is the latest in a number of Gnostic manuscript discoveries in the last center the most important of which was a collection of over 40 Gnostic writings in caves near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt. (See The Secret Is Out)
PRO-JUDAS. NOT PRO-JEWISH. Because the Gospel of Judas portrays Judas as a hero rather than a villain, some people have given the impression that it is somehow an antidote to historic Christian anti-Semitism. This response is ironic, since much of early Gnosticism was deeply critical of traditional Judaism. Gnostics believed that there were actually two Gods, and that the God of the Jews was an evil or ignorant creator who deceived people. One Gnostic text calls the Hebrew patriarchs a "joke"! Because of this, Gnostics interpreted the Jewish Scriptures in ways that seem very strange to us. For example, many believed that Eve was right to take the serpent's advice and eat from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. (See In the Know)
GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME GOSPEL. Although the Gnostics had their own "gospels," such as the Gospel of Philip and the Gospel of Truth, they were all written ...