Sunday, April 16, 2006

Judas Judas Judas

A blog post by Daniel "Eunomia" Larison led me to this article by the "Bad Hitchens" (as opposed to the "Good Hitchens."

In essence, Christopher Hitchens is saying that the new "Gospel of Judas" really makes a lot of sense, moreso, apparently, than the four canonical gospels.

Hitchens apparently has decided to anticipate some of the arguments of the other side, and responds to this quote from Adam Gopnik:

The finding of the new Gospel, though obviously remarkable as a bit of textual history, no more challenges the basis of the Church's faith than the discovery of a document from the nineteenth century written in Ohio and defending King George would be a challenge to the basis of American democracy.

by saying:

Can Gopnik not discern the difference between George III and Benedict Arnold, let alone the difference between a man-made screed and a series of texts sometimes claimed to be inerrant and divinely inspired?

Unfortunately, Hitchens misses the point entirely. What Gopnik is pointing out is that a single manuscript with unorthodox ideas withotu a lot of other copies or other evidence to suggest that it was written much eariler than the script we have found is a poor basis for overturning established history. If suddenly a manuscript appears giving a very different account of the American Revolution than we have been told, the fact that this writing exists does not mean that there is a good reason to take it seriously or to let it greatly change our interpretation of history.

Next, Hitchens says:

But never mind these trifling failures of analogy. The Judas gospel would make one huge difference if it was accepted.

Well, first, these imprecisions of analogy are irrelevant to Gropnik's point, which was that the account is not particularly reliable, not about the specific events to which the account refers. Secondly, well, yes, Hitch, everyone agrees that, if accepted, the "Judas Gospel" would make a huge difference. The point Gopnik was making is that there is no reason to give the "Judas Gospel" much credence, and that it doesn't change things as it only brings up an already well-known heresy to which it provides no new evidence.

Next, Hitchens engages in a long wish-fulfillment rant, where he discusses how nice it would be if Christianity became less, well, Christian. He of course brings up the old "Passion story is antisemitic" schtick.

With that, I will dispense with Hitchens and address another issue, misunderstanding people have. A lot of people assume that if Judas' betrayal were necessary for Jesus to die for our sins, then how could be condemned for doing it? The answer is, because he did betray Jesus; he was not deliberately giving him over to the authorities because he wanted to see Jesus complete His mission. He wanted Jesus dead because he didn't like that Jesus was not agitating for rebellion against Rome, which is what he expected the Messiah to do. Gollum's final act of stealing the One Ring from Frodo may have saved Middle-Earth, this doesn't make him a hero. Likewise with Judas.

That is all.

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