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