The Phys.Org News Service is reporting that an Egyptian wedding certificate [is] key to authenticating controversial Biblical text
"If we hadn’t found a Louvre study of Egyptian wedding and land contracts, which were from the same time period and had ink similar to that used to record the Gospel of Judas, we would have had a much more difficult time discerning whether the gospel was authentic," said Joseph G. Barabe. A senior research microscopist at McCrone Associates, he led an analytical team of five scientists who worked on the project at McCrone, a consulting laboratory in microscopy and microanalysis in Westmont, Ill. "That study was the key piece of evidence that convinced us that the gospel ink was probably okay."
Barabe’s team was part of a multidisciplinary effort organized in 2006 by the National Geographic Society to authenticate the Gospel of Judas, which was discovered in the late 1970s after having been hidden for nearly 1,700 years. The text, written in Egyptian Coptic, is compelling because—unlike other Biblical accounts that portray Judas Iscariot as a reviled traitor—it suggests that Jesus requested that his friend, Judas, betray him to authorities.
The ink on the “Gospel of Judas” was probably much more easier to work on than the Vinland Map. Whatever, this apocryphal gospel, in Coptic, was dismissed as something that could not be taken seriously in an op-ed in “The New York Times” the same year that it appeared. The same point of view was expressed by Professor Louis Painchaud (Canada).
Interesting … same McCrone, huh?
The Wiki article on this gnostic gospel is comprehensive and informative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas
Ireneus mentions a “Gospel of Judas” in his “Against Heresies” 180AD, and it seems quite likely that his reference may have been to an earlier Greek version of this Coptic copy which dates to the 3rd-4th centuries. It follows a common gnostic practice of being in dialogue form rather than narrative form as in the canonical gospels, although note the long discourse sections in John ch 13-17. [John’s gospel was suspected of showing gnostic tendencies until about 180 AD, and Eastern Orthodoxy remains hostile towards the Book of Revelations.]
The only known commentaries on gnosticism until the mid-20th century were those as filtered by the naturally hosile proto-Nicene fathers, and access to these early maunscripts following the Nag-Hammadi discoveries has led to a greater understanding of what the various forms of gnosticism were about. Elaine Pagels of course has written extensively about them, but of course she is known to have her own singular view about them.
Personally, as a some-time student of general Religious Studies, I consider them of value in throwing light on what the various gnostic sects believed, and they are also informative of an apparent evolutionary trend for religious movements to fracture in various ways towards sectarianism. Following the lead of Ireneus, orthodox Christianity will always show hostility towards such manuscripts as they are clearly heretical. It might be said that the only truth they contain is what the particular circle happened to believe. This also says something about certain trends in Religion generally.
Correction & elucidation, last para, last three lines: It might be said that the only truth that gnostic scriptures contain is the evidence they provide on what the particular gnostic circle claimed to believe. They say nothing of course about the objective truth of any such beliefs. The conflicts arising from such contending different belief systems, [i.e. orthodoxy vs gnosticism] illustrate particular attitudes within Religion systems generally, such as: “I am right – You are wrong. That implies I am justified in persecuting you.” c.f. J.C. “Forgive your enemies.”
These apocryphal gospels are the result of the mysterium christi, which no one has been able to solve till today. We can take the example of Monsignor J.P. Meier, the world’s foremost “Jesus of history” researcher, who had to admit that the real Jesus is not the historical Jesus and the historical Jesus is not the real Jesus. Meier stressed that Jesus spoke in mysterious parables and he himself is the great mysterious parable. Before him the other example is the German Catholic scholar Rudolf Schnackenburg with his view that Jesus hovers over the gospels.
The authors of the apocryphal gospels, influenced by a mixture of Platonism and Christianity, tried to solve the mystery. Elaine Pagels thought she did and received an adequate response in the American Jesuit monthly “America”.
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