Sunday, December 02, 2007

Now it all makes sense!

One of the problems I had with reading the Bible was trying to reconcile the god of the Old Testament -- that cranky old man who would not only smite your ass if you violated one of his arbitrary edicts, but the ass of the 7th son of your 7th son -- with the living embodiment of love that Jesus called God. I mean, it's no wonder that people didn't believe the Prince of Peace when he said that God is Love. They knew he was the kind of guy that would butcher innocent children for teasing a bald man. My wife says she always thought parenthood mellowed the old curmudgeon god, but I still had my doubts.
Well, I think that problem has now been solved for me. Remember a while back when the National Geographic made a big splash out of the discovery of the lost gospel of Judas Iscariot, which painted Judas in a very flattering light? April D. DeConick, a professor of Biblical studies at Rice University and the author of “The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says” says that National Geographic, in a rush to get the story out first, did a pretty crappy job of translating the lost gospel. You can read all about it here. Quoting from the NY Times article:

Judas is a specific demon called the “Thirteenth.” In certain Gnostic traditions, this is the given name of the king of demons — an entity known as Ialdabaoth who lives in the 13th realm above the earth. Judas is his human alter ego, his undercover agent in the world. These Gnostics equated Ialdabaoth with the Hebrew Yahweh, whom they saw as a jealous and wrathful deity and an opponent of the supreme God whom Jesus came to earth to reveal.

I am not all that concerned with whether Judas was a saint, a sinner or a demon, but I think the Gnostics are really onto something with that Yahweh as a jealous and wrathful minor deity and not at all the God of love and forgiveness that Jesus was talking about.


View from Here said...

I read DeConick's excellent article on the Judas fiasco yesterday in the New York Times. I was particularly interested in what she said about the Dead Sea Scrolls:

"The situation reminds me of the deadlock that held scholarship back on the Dead Sea Scrolls decades ago. When manuscripts are hoarded by a few, it results in errors and monopoly interpretations that are very hard to overturn even after they are proved wrong."

From what I understand, the consequences of the Scrolls monopoly are indeed still continuing today, in a misleading exhibit taking place in a "natural history" museum in San Diego. See this article for details:

Thus, I would suggest that an important question confronting us today is whether so-called liberal Christian scholars -- by which I mean scholars of Christian faith who, like April DeConick, proceed in accordance with fundamental scientific principles rather than any religious agenda -- will part company with their Evangelical-minded colleagues and frankly condemn what is going on with the Dead Sea Scrolls in one museum exhibit after another.

Rev. Spike said...

Hey there: I have struggled with the God being jealous thing too. One way I have been able to reconcile it however was with the way a parent may be jealous (in a protective sense) for their children. Like when some bum comes to take your daughter out...

If we can believe the Bible (which I believe that we can), then we must believe that God is not truly "emotional", he is not human (heck, he's not even a "he" cf. John 4). Therefore, all these emotional attributes are anthropomorphic. Just like he does not have a long nose or wings, he does not "feel", that is simply the terms he uses to relay to use how he relates to us.

As far as Gnostics, those guys were wackos. You can read up on them from a guy named Ben Witherington, and a few others like NT Wright and Darrell Bock or Rodney Reeves.

Sorry to barge in ;)