Kommentar

Det er en voldsom interesse for Judas-evangeliet, og den kjetterske, apokryfe tradisjonen som ikke kom med i kanon, Det nye testamentet.

Arte-TV viser søndag del to av en serie om Jesus. I den første fremgikk det at Jesus ikke så på seg selv som religionsstifter. I motsetning til f.eks. Muhammed.

Oppdagelsen av Judas-evangeliet stimulerer interessen for og nysgjerrigheten rundt tilblivelsen av kanon. Men sier det noe nytt om Jesus? Elaine Pagels har vært konsulent for oversettelsen. Hun skriver i NYTimes:

For nearly 2,000 years, most people assumed that the only sources of tradition about Jesus and his disciples were the four gospels in the New Testament. But the unexpected discovery at Nag Hammadi in 1945 of more than 50 ancient Christian texts proved what church fathers said long ago: that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are only a small selection of gospels from among the dozens that circulated among early Christian groups. But now the Gospel of Judas — like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and many others — opens up new perspectives on familiar gospel stories.

Many scholars who first read these gospels had been taught that they were «heretical,» which meant they were the wrong gospels. When I was introduced to them as a student, we called them «Gnostic» gospels, the name given to them nearly 2,000 years ago by Irenaeus, one of the fathers of the church, who denounced them as false and «heretical.»

Yet those early Christians who loved and revered such texts did not think of themselves as heretics, but as Christians who had received not only what Jesus preached publicly, but also what he taught his disciples when they were talking privately. Many regarded these secret gospels not as radical alternatives to the New Testament Gospels, but as advanced-level teaching for those who had already received Jesus’ basic message. Even the Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus explained things to certain disciples in private, entrusting to them alone «the mystery of the Kingdom of God.»

What in the Gospel of Judas, published this week by the National Geographic Society (disclosure: I was a consultant on the project), goes back to Jesus’ actual teaching, and how would we know? And what else was there in the early Christian movement that we had not known before? These are some of the difficult questions that the discoveries raise for us — issues that historians are already debating. What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.

The Gospel Truth