I was reading a NY Times article today about archeological finds that may have been looted and what ethical constraints should be place on the the use of such items. The article said called the Gospel of Judas "a text that may shed light on the evolution of early Christianity." This overstates, or perhaps misstates, the significance of the Gospel of Judas.
I made note of the Gospel of Judas earlier. I think it is important. It is important not so much for what it may tell us about Judas, or Jesus, or the development of Christianity, but what it says about us. Having read excerpts and watched the National Geographic program, I didn't see anything really new in the Gospel of Judas. Theories about Judas' motivation have bounced around since the crucifixion, I suppose, and the theory that Jesus and Judas colluded to cause the "betrayal" is not that new. The gnostic aspects of the Gospel are certainly not new.
The real question about the Gospel of Judas is, "Why do people care? Why do you find a book about an ancient document at Walmart? Isn't this the domain of obscure scholars? Why are people talking about this book at coffee hour in a small town church?"
For this, we have to give credit to Dan Brown. Dan Brown got almost everything wrong historically in The Da Vinci Code, but he's right when he says- defensively, I might add- that the important thing is that the book is about "big ideas" and now we're discussing those ideas.
Bart Ehrman has said something is happening in America that has not happened since the "end of time" speculation of the 1840s. American is more interested in religious ideas, theology, and history than it has been for 150 years.
I hate to say it, but I must... Thanks, Mr. Brown.
NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/02/arts/02publ.html?hp&ex=1146628800&en=025392a0fe02723e&ei=5094&partner=homepage
Earlier Post on Gospel of Judas and Da Vinci Code: http://a-grey-pilgrims-reflections.blogspot.com/2006/04/da-vinci-code-and-gospel-of-judas.html