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Have We Missed the Truth about Christianity?N.T. Wright’s Judas and the Gospel of Jesus (Baker Academic, 2006) pulls the rug out from under the most prominent “Gnostic preachers” in the academic world: namely, Bart Ehrman, Marvin Meyer and Elaine Pagels. These scholars claim that Gnostic Christianity was a “valid” version of the Christian faith in a time where different “Christianities” were competing for power.

Honestly, I am sick of all the exaggerated claims in the media regarding the discoveries of these Gnostic Gospels. Their existence comes as no surprise to anyone with any knowledge of ancient history. The early church fathers knew about these gospels and refuted their errors. What we are seeing is the regurgitation of ancient heresies, now labeled as “modern threats” to historic Christianity.

N.T. Wright blasts through the hype, by showing that the truly revolutionary gospel was the one for which Christians were suffering persecution and facing martyrdom. No one can argue with Wright’s historical credentials in this area. He is as educated as any of the scholars arguing for a reevaluation of the Gnostic heresy. Wright’s tone is ”serious business” throughout the book, though he betrays his sense of humor in the title of one chapter: “The Judas of Faith and the Iscariot of History” – a mild slap at the Jesus Seminar scholars who would pit a “Jesus of history” against the “Christ of faith.”

There are several evangelical books refuting the claims of the Gnostic gospels and their ardent defenders. Why then is Wright’s book necessary? Wright goes beyond the hype surrounding these gospels to the reasons why people find them so attractive today. And his conclusions may startle you. The last chapter lays out ways in which Christians at both the right and the left of the theological spectrum have unconsciously adopted Gnostic overtones in their beliefs. Wright challenges us to return to the full unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel preached in the first century and the Gospel that is truly revolutionary today. 

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog

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12 thoughts on “Book Review: Judas and the Gospel of Jesus”

  1. pim gillissen says:

    Yeah, and other people with ample knowledge of ancient history know that it is very improbable that Jezus ever existed, that there is nog proof of the socalled evangelists and that most gospels are either frauds or just copies (interpretations) of sermons held by preachers.
    Pim Gillissen, Amsterdam, Netherlands

  2. trevinwax says:

    Very few historians and scholars would agree with your summary there. To claim that Jesus of Nazareth never existed is to promote a historical absurdity. That there are a few historians on the fringe that deny the existence of Jesus just goes to show you that almost anything can pass for “historical research” today.

  3. pim gillissen says:

    Of course if you believe that the bible is a credible historical source you may think that Jezus is a historical character.
    But for serious historians there is absolutely no historical evidence nor sources that Jezus ever existed.
    The name finally goes back to a more common connotation that means: teacher. And Jezus is probably a mythical compilation of teachers or early christians.
    Another theory has been extensively argumented by Francesco Carotta in his book: Was Jezus Ceasar?
    However I would be really interested and impressed if you could show me a scrap of scientific evidence that Jezus ever existed.

  4. trevinwax says:

    I definitely believe the New Testament Gospels are historically reliable. Time and time again their witness is verified by archeology (Solomon’s Portico, for example) and agreement with other historical witnesses (Josephus, Tacitus). Since the Gospels are right in the historical details regarding kings and caesars, it is safe to assume they are reliable regarding what they say about Jesus.

  5. pim gillissen says:

    Not true. The oldest gospels know are dated 200 to 300 years AD. So they don’t bear any historical reliability.
    Josephus and Tacitus may have mentioned the name of a jezus, but certainly not in the context as mentioned in the new testament.
    Moreover, that the gospels mention correct historical details regarding kings is only proven correct and confirmed by other many historical sources. Sources that are absolutely absent in the case of jezus.
    I don’t mind that you believe in jezus who I think is a myth. But don’t say that the claim of the nonexistence of Jezus is an historical absurdity. On the contrary. So far any historical claim of the existence of jezus is based on belief not on any historic evidence!

  6. trevinwax says:

    Dating the Gospels to 200 or 300 AD was a habit of some NT scholars 150-200 years ago. We actually have a fragment of the Gospel of John (considered to be the latest of the Gospels) that dates back to 125 AD, less than a hundred years from the time of Christ. Other manuscripts from the late 90’s (Clement, Iraneaus and others) quote verbatim sections of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

    Most all of modern day scholarship supports earlier dates for the Gospels, including many historians who reject the claims of historical Christianity about Jesus of Nazareth.

    You say that “any historical claim of the existence of Jesus i based on belief” and “not on historic evidence.” I beg to differ. The historical evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth is as great as any person in antiquity, including Alexander the Great.

    Whether or not you believe the claims of the Gospels about Jesus’ identity and mission is another matter. But trying to deny his existence as a historical person flies in the face of virtually all modern-day historical research of the first century.

  7. pim gillissen says:

    I am sorry to persist, but amongst modern scientific and historic research that works in a empiric way and not from the believers perpective there is no shred of evidence of the existence of a historic Jezus.
    And I challenge you to come forward with any documented research, confirmed by more than one scientist and executed according to the rules of scientific research that proves the opposite.
    I got the feeling that know better than you talk. Besides, there is nothing wrong with a myth.

  8. trevinwax says:

    The carbon-dated fragment of the Gospel of John would be one such example. I am not writing about research only from believers’ perspectives. You will find hundreds of historians and scholars who do not claim to be Christian, nor make any special claims for Christianity, but who are all in agreement that there really was a Jesus of Nazareth.

    From a historical perspective, it seems that the bigger leap of faith is doubting the existence of the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

  9. pim gillissen says:

    My last contribution:
    So far my knowledge and conviction of a non historical jezus has been derived from years of reading up till now.
    Searching the internet by: no historical Jezus, yields an abundance of wellknown and less known historians and scientists who extensively confirm this conviction.
    I have also been reading a lot about your view. And whether you like it or not, the division is clearly running between non believers and believers. It is also clear that the arguments of the non believers are always based on scientific facts only and scientific thinking. The arguments non believers use is wishful thinking and facts that sound scientific but in fact does not support their view. E.g. Carbon dating of scrolls. The date doesn’t make the content true.
    NB. The oldest gospel (mark) doesn’t even mention jezus.
    The discussion has a similarity with the evolution debate versus creationism or intelligent design.
    And we all know that creationism or intelligent design
    is scientific nonsense.
    Cheers. Pim Gillissen.

  10. trevinwax says:

    I’m saddened that you would accept the testimony of a few scholars on the fringe (who have the audacity to claim that Mark doesn’t even mention Jesus), rather than read the testimony of those who walked with Jesus.

    Read Mark (the oldest Gospel). See there if Jesus appears or not.

    Peace to you.

  11. Klaas van Luik says:

    I find the question whether Jesus actually existed intriguing. And in the above answers, Trevin of course has failed to provide any list of historic data that can be checked and proof the existence of Jesus, thereby making this a still unresolved question. I am not at all an expert on this issue, but like to contribute anyway ;-)

    There are various examples in the gospels that are almost certainly not true (For instance, Jewish elders meeting on the eve of Jewish Easter to discuss Jesus’ fate – would simply not happen). In fact, some of historic data in the Gospels are clearly mixed up. For instance, I know one of the Gospels describes historic data about the time of the birth of Jesus that can only be accurate when his birth took place in 4 B.C.( I do realize this is a contradiction in terms ;-)

    Furthermore, where historic evidence is expected, like in the extensive Roman records of executions, none is found.

    The most damning evidence however is the absence of a clear historic record to begin with. Many thousands of Christian scholars over the last 19 centuries have occupied themselves with the task of finding definitive proof of the historic Jesus. However, the expected result of a book listing these proofs is glaringly absent in the world today (This book, if it existed, would be taught in every Christian school today).

    In this case I do think the burden of proof squarely lies with the Christians, who have searched for this proof and evidently have failed miserably.

  12. Akhan says:

    Sir am looking for dis book long time (Gospel of Judas)so kindly give me ur address and Amount of book i’ll pay u?

  13. Nazorean says:

    Even the Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that a Gnostic religious sect known as the Nazoreans existed prior to the birth of Jesus. It is not surprising that leaders of the newly formed Roman Orthodox Church of the second century were opposed to the pratitioners of the religious beliefs that they pilfered. There is overwhelming evidence that it was the Romans and not some quasi-literate Jewish Apostles who wrote the gospels.

    Quite revealing are the more secular mentions of Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth. First, we have the infamous ‘Testimonium Flavianum’ of Josephus made at the end of ‘Jewish Antiquities,’ which was not published until the middle of the 90s, then we have the quotes by St. Ignatius of Antioch and Clement of Rome also made at the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century. At that time, we also have the famous apologetics quotes by Suetonius and Tacitus about Jesus and the Christiani.

    Conversely, we have the Pauline Epistles which were written and preached during the 50s making no reference to Jesus of Nazareth. The author knows about a cosmic Christ the Savior, but nothing about a real live crucified Jesus Christ. Then we have ‘The Shepherd of Hermes’ which most scholars have attributed to the early second century, but others believe may have been written by ‘Paul.’ Paul was actually Apollonius of Tyana, who was of Greek ancestry, which makes him an obvous candidate to be the author. This scripture was a part of the early Church canon and makes no mention of Jesus of Nazareth. Then we have ‘The Epistle of Barnabas’ believed to have been written during the 80s. This early Church scripture only mentions Jesus Christ, but knows nothing about a real live flesh and blood Jesus of Nazareth.

    Dead Sea Scroll archivist Joseph Atwill in ‘Caesar’s Messiah’ clearly shows in the empty tomb narrative, which appears in all 4 gospels, that the gospels had a common source and were not the product of some quasi-literate Jewish Apostles. Starting with John, then Matthew, then Mark and finally Luke, what we find is that in Matthew, Mary sees the tomb scene precisely as she left it in John and so on. This shows common knowledge among the authors of all 4 gospels. To learn more about how the Romans subverted the teachings of Yeshu and the Nazoreans and proclaimed them the revelations of their godman Jesus Christ visit: http://www.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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