What is so annoying about the coming-to-light of this "Gospel of Judas" is that the media will swarm about, misreporting the history and significance of it. And there are so many people now who are anxious to believe that the mainstream of Church teaching is factually incorrect, which belief Dan Brown is largely responsible for making cool. I mean, its much more exciting to believe that there is a "secret tradition," guarded by an elite group of tolerant, liberal magicians, than it is to believe that what the Church has taught is pretty much how things happened. But the overwhelming proponderance of historical evidence supports the latter, more boring view. So people invent conspiracy theories.
What's really kind of annoying is that there is a cottage industry of largely politically-motivated quasi-scholarhsip, enabling and promoting a brand of quasi-Christianity that loosely associates itself with the Egyptian Gnosticism evidenced by the Nag Hammadi texts, and now apparently the "Gospel of Judas." It is all very tendentious, mostly fueled by secularist feminism and the homosexual agenda. But the secular media, as might be expected, but nonetheless annoyingly and naively, seizes consistently on this brand of scholarship. The NY Times article cites Elaine Pagels:
"These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was," said Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics."Exploding" and other forms of the word "explode" seem to be very hot right now among academics on the cutting edge of nonsense. For my part, I hope "explode" displaces "liminal" and "subvert" in the top spot of the list of Most Fetishized Academic Sillyisms. I think maybe they got it from the exploding parliament scene in V for Vendetta.
Anyway, one of Pagels favorite pastimes (apart from "exploding" things) is seizing upon the most localized and marginal of early Christian communal nuttiness, and elevating it to evidence of some vast (imaginary) multivalent pluraformity among primitive Christian belief and practice. The fact is, even granting divergent strands of Hebraizing and Gnosticizing elements here and there (especially, for some reason, in Egypt), early Christian belief and practice was surprisingly cohesive and consistent -- the near monolithicism Pagels wants so badly to explode. And surprisingly in keeping with what has emerged as the orthodox faith. I suppose that's how it came to be the orthodox faith. It was always mainstream and dominant -- which of course makes it a prime target for revisionsist and postmodern critics: "did someone say 'mainstream' and 'dominant'?!?!?! Call the Thought Police!!!! They must be exploded!!!!"
I am pleased, though, to see this acknowledgement in the Times article:
The consensus of scholars is that the four canonical gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — were probably... written within the first century.I.e. well over a century before even the (lost but hypothesized) Greek version of "Gospel of Judas," and over two centuries before the Coptic version. Also well before any of the other Gnostic Texts, and well before pretty much every single one of the other apocryphal gospels.
Anyway, it is a very exciting discovery, notwithstanding all the misguided huppla. But not because it sheds light on the "real" (secret) version of Christianity, surpressed by the white, male, heteronormative, Catholic oppressors; but rather because it sheds light on what a particular sect of early, marginal gnostics in Egypt believed.
If you are interested in all of this stuff, I highly recommend Father Raymond Brown's Introduction to the New Testament. It is a terrific overview of the history and background of the various books of the New Testament, as well as of much of the apocryphal material (including the Nag Hammadi stuff). Its engaging, easy to read, and fascinating. Brown is extremely learned, orthodox, and situated well within the mainstream of serious Biblical scholarship.