Question: Hey Pastor, I have a question!? What is this new ?Gospel of Judas? that made the news a few weeks ago?? I watched the television program broadcast on the National Geographic channel.? Some of what they said confused me.? Will this book be inserted in Bibles that are printed from now on?
Answer: You have a great question.? Thanks for writing.? We dedicated a Sunday morning Adult Bible Class to this topic just before Easter.? Some very interesting discussion took place.? Since that date more people have had similar questions to yours.? I pulled the following from the web site for the Lutheran Church?Missouri Synod which seems to answer the basic questions that most have regarding this ?gospel.?? The following excerpt is from the synod?s web site:
Q. What is the Lutheran Church?s opinion on the new ?Gospel of Judas?? Is this book the inspired Word of God? Should we Lutherans read this?
A. First, we need to know some basic facts about this ancient Egyptian text, which was discovered in 1978 in a cave in Egypt. Since 1978, this manuscript has been circulating in various antiquities markets, but is now being released by National Geographic. The ?Gospel of Judas? is a Coptic (language of ancient Egypt) translation made in the third or fourth century of an earlier?(likely Greek) text dating sometime in the late second century (perhaps about 180 A.D.). Scholars are agreed that the original?text was not written by Judas, but, as was common in ancient times, the name of Judas was attached to this anonymous writing (writings falsely attributed to a famous person are commonly called pseudepigraphic). This ?Gospel of Judas? claims to speak about the final days of Jesus? life from the perspective of Judas, whose version differs from what we know from the New Testament Gospels.
The existence of the Gospel of Judas has been known for centuries, and thus is no ?new? discovery (only the discovery of the Coptic manuscript is ?new?). In writing against ancient heresies, the church father Irenaeus (130-200 A. D.) said that the Gospel of Judas originated in a Gnostic sect called the Cainites. He wrote: ?They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they label the Gospel of Judas.? Ancient gnostics, whose teachings were rejected by early Christians as heretical, generally taught that material creation is evil, entrapping what belongs to the divine or spiritual realm. Souls (spirit) are imprisoned in human bodies and are released (thus ?saved?) and ascend to the spiritual realm through knowledge (gnosis).
The New Testament Gospels and Epistles, written in the second half of the first century, were soon circulated and authenticated themselves upon the church (not merely by popular vote in a political process, as is sometimes alleged today). Gradually they achieved canonical status and became the norm for orthodox Christianity. A significant number of apocryphal (non-canonical) works appeared from the second to sixth
centuries. The Gospel of Judas is one among many of these non-authoritative books. Irenaeus? rejection of it illustrates the early Christian judgment that such writings were not to be regarded as the inspired Word of God.
On the basis of ancient non-canonical books?some expressly rejected as heretical by the early church?some modern writers have tried to cast doubts on biblical authority and Christian teachings. Best-selling books have achieved popularity by questioning Christian origins. Lutherans need to keep abreast of such developments, and? especially? in this age of general biblical illiteracy, become better informed regarding foundational biblical truths as they ?make a defense? of the hope that is within them (1 Peter 3:15).
After reading the above, you should have a better understanding of what this ?gospel? is ? something that has NEVER been accepted as truth; rather, it has been labeled as heresy!? And so, because of that, I expect that the next Bible that you purchase will not have another Gospel to be added with those written by Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!
Thank you for your question.? May God continue to bless you as you read His inerrant Word of life!