Kind of interesting how the National Geographic Society took advantage of the Da Vinci Code excitement to peddle its newly translated Gospel of Judas. Much ado about nothing since:
- This Gnostic gospel has been known since St. Irenaeus' time (c. 180 AD).
- The gospel has been languishing untranslated since its discovery in the 1970's.
- The gospel is clearly from an heretical sect and was written a century and a half after Christ. New Testament Gospels were written in the first 70 years following Christ's Resurrection.
- The gospel was never seriously considered by any reputable orthodox Christian group as remotely connected with the real Jesus.
- The gospel is similar to other Gnostic gospels--too bad the Gnostics died out a long time ago. Why? Because the Christians had the better case.
- Despite the claims of Dan Brown in his novel, the "other" Gospels were not so much suppressed as discarded because of lack of credibility.
Those of us who teach theology risk underestimating the power of the above events. The movie and the gospel are easily dismissed by anyone, liberal or conservative, who knows anything about history and the Bible. But most people don't. The love of conspiracy theories, the modern tradition to bash authority, and real anti-Catholic prejudice are powerful persuasive tools that secularists use to try to dupe people into believing that an obscure gospel and a thriller are gateways to new, divine knowledge.
On the other hand, it's a great opportunity for Christians to evangelize. Ordinary folks who normally would never think much about who Jesus really is, now will, and they will be open to hear the Christian message freshly and creatively explained. Not such good news for gnostics, but a great chance for Christians to make the true Gospel live for this millennnium.