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Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth about Christianity? Hardcover – October 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801012945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801012945
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,615,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

FRONT FLAP I am writing this little book to make three points. First, this new "Gospel of Judas," while a spectacularly interesting archaeological find, tells us nothing about the real Jesus, or for that matter the real Judas. In particular, it doesn't (as some have claimed) "rehabilitate" Judas over against either the charges laid against him in the New Testament or the anti-Jewish use that was made of the Judas tradition in the Middle Ages. Second, the enthusiasm for this new "gospel" lays bare the real agenda which has been driving both what we might call the scholarly "Quest for an Alternative Jesus" and also the popular eagerness for such sensational material that we find in books like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Third, the specific teaching of the "Gospel of Judas" only serves to highlight certain features about first-century Christianity that need to be drawn out more fully than is sometimes done. BACK FLAP Tom Wright is the bishop of Durham in the Church of England. Recently named by Christianity Today as one of the top five theologians in the world, Wright has taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, Oxford, and McGill universities. He is the author of The Original Jesus, What Saint Paul Really Said, and The Challenge of Jesus.

From the Back Cover

What does the Gospel of Judas really tell us? Joining other recently found and publicized "gospels," the Gospel of Judas has found its way into the limelight. The ancient manuscript appears to be genuine--so what are we to make of the claims therein? Claims such as -Judas was doing what Jesus asked him to do when he betrayed Jesus -Jesus came to offer secret knowledge of how to escape this earthly world, rather than to usher in God's kingdom on earth -Jesus felt no pain on the cross -and more This timely response to the Gospel of Judas is the authoritative, orthodox word on what the Gospel of Judas really tells us--and does not tell us-about Jesus, Judas, early Christianity, and Gnosticism. Tom Wright, as both a bishop and a historian, is uniquely qualified to speak on the subject. In Judas and the Gospel of Jesus, he clearly and fairly answers your questions about this "new gospel."

Customer Reviews

The book isn't that fancy, and I think many laypeople will get great benefit from this if they pay careful attention.
E. Johnson
Gnostic beliefs fit very well into the American and Western fixation on self: the ideals of self-discovery, self-awareness, self actualisation, and self-salvation.
Amazon Customer
Those quibbles aside, I can recommend this book to anyone who is still on the fence regarding the significance of Christian gnosticism.
Stephen Triesch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 136 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The standing joke about Tom Wright goes like this: An inquiring student gives Dr Wright a call. His secretary says, "Sorry, but he is busy writing a book". To which the student caller replies, "That's OK, I'll hold".

NT Wright is one of our most prolific New Testament scholars. It seems just a few months ago the media broke the story about the discovery of the so-called Gospel of Judas. And here we have a major critique of the find and the claims surrounding it.

The gospel was in fact discovered three decades ago, but for various reasons, was only made public in April of 2006. The media made much of it, and it tied in nicely with the film release of the Da Vinci Code. Both were over-hyped and cast aspersions on the canonical gospels and the real Jesus. And both fed into conspiratorial claims about church cover-ups and the need to reinvent Christianity.

Here Wright takes on the hype and the search for an "alternative Jesus". He demonstrates that this new find offers very little to our understanding of Jesus, and shows how far apart Gnostic teaching is from biblical truth claims.

The document in question, a Gnostic gospel, is authentic, but from third or fourth century Egypt. Like other Gnostic writings, this Judas document presents an unbiblical dualism: this world is evil and needs to be escaped from, and a secret knowledge (gnosis) will help one to achieve that. Jesus and the early disciples, by contrast, taught that God's kingdom was breaking into this world. While this material world is in need of restoration, it is not evil in itself. Indeed, God created it, and will one day recreate it altogether.

In orthodox Christianity, the goal of salvation is the redemption of this world, along with the resurrection of our bodies.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Triesch on February 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
N. T. Wright's scholarly works are often ponderous tomes characterized by forty-word sentences, endless paragraphs, and an exasperating delay in getting to the point. This slim volume does not share those faults. Quickly, clearly, and concisely, Wright takes aim at the recent popular fascination with Christian gnosticism and the small group of scholars who have been at the forefront of this well-publicized effort to re-imagine the origins of Christianity. In his own polite way, Wright is saying, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

The occasion for Wright's salvo is the recent publication of "The Gospel of Judas," a second-century gnostic tract that surfaced about thirty years ago but was held back from publication as its various owners tried to maximize its financial payoff. Now that the gospel has finally seen the light of day, it has been the subject of several popular works and celebrated as providing important new insights into Jesus, Judas, and early Christianity.

The highlight of the gospel is the claim that - contrary to the New Testament - Judas was the apostle who understood Jesus best, and was in fact ordered by Jesus to turn Jesus over to the authorities. The purpose of this was to hasten Jesus's death so that his spirit could be liberated from the confines of his mortal and corruptible body. This is in line with the core gnostic belief that the world was created by an inferior, malevolent god or demiurge, and that salvation consists in liberating the spirit from its connection to matter.

Authors such as Elaine Pagels, Bart Ehrman, and Marvin Meyer have popularized the idea that the gnostic writings provide a legitimate alternative to the New Testament portrayal of Jesus and Christian origins.

"Nonsense," says Wright.
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57 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The Gospel of Judas has had its fifteen minutes of fame. It is but another in an endlessly long line of stories or documents meant to shake the foundations of the Christian faith. Like its many predecessors, it gave National Geographic and anti-Christian authors an opportunity to voice their dissension with the biblical story of Jesus. A book titled The Gospel of Judas shot to near the top of the bestsellers lists and nearly as quickly, shot straight back down. Still, while its popularity was short-lived, it allowed Bart Ehrman and other revisionists a chance to laud the epistle for its new insights into the life of Christ. Surely Ehrman forever cast doubt upon his credibility as a historian when he blathered, "(The Gospel of Judas) is one of the greatest historical discoveries of the twentieth century. It rivals the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi."

National Geographic describes the importance of the document in this way: "The Gospel of Judas gives a different view of the relationship between Jesus and Judas, offering new insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Unlike the accounts in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in which Judas is portrayed as a reviled traitor, this newly discovered Gospel portrays Judas as acting at Jesus' request when he hands Jesus over to the authorities." A classically dualistic, gnostic document, The Gospel of Judas presents a Jesus who is seeking to escape from the corruption of this physical world and asks Judas to betray Him so He can be free of this wickedness. Judas complies and shows himself to be a hero, rather than a villain. No longer the betrayer, He is a faithful friend to Jesus Christ.

Renowned New Testament scholar N.T.
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More About the Author

N.T. WRIGHT is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. For twenty years he taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. As being both one of the world's leading Bible scholars and a popular author, he has been featured on ABC News, Dateline, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air. His award-winning books include The Case for the Psalms, How God Became King, Simply Jesus, After You Believe, Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, Scripture and the Authority of God, The Meaning of Jesus (co-authored with Marcus Borg), as well as being the translator for The Kingdom New Testament. He also wrote the impressive Christian Origins and the Question of God series, including The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, The Resurrection of the Son of God and most recently, Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

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