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Just another Apocryphal Gospel

JUDAS ISCARIOT, one of the ?chosen 12? of Christ ? derided, disparaged and disdained for selling the ?Saviour of the World?, for a mere 30 pieces of silver ? is in the news, literally. And this is controversy, all right. It has taken 1,700 years to arise and is probably the kind of material that can keep the fire burning for long.On both sides of the congregational divide, some in the clergy, as well as the laity, feel it is planned mischief, coming at a time when Good Friday and Easter fall in the coming week.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2006 00:01 IST

Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy…
—George Santayana
(1863 – 1952)

JUDAS ISCARIOT, one of the ‘chosen 12’ of Christ — derided, disparaged and disdained for selling the ‘Saviour of the World’, for a mere 30 pieces of silver — is in the news, literally. And this is controversy, all right. It has taken 1,700 years to arise and is probably the kind of material that can keep the fire burning for long.

On both sides of the congregational divide, some in the clergy, as well as the laity, feel it is planned mischief, coming at a time when Good Friday and Easter fall in the coming week.

However, the Director and Spiritual Guide of the St Paul’s Seminary, Rev Dr Robert Pinto feels that there is no controversy. “From time to time, new documents will invariably come to light. These may be authentic but then they have nothing to do with the Church and the belief of the faithful.

“At best, the document, if it is authentic, may be regarded as another of the Apocryphal Gospels. These gospels are those books or texts, which other Christian denominations use, which the Catholic Church doesn’t subscribe to”.

The Four Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible by Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are termed as Canonical Gospels, meaning inspired by God. The Council of Trent, 1546, officially declared which books need to be believed by Christians.

“What is important is to believe what the Church has taught us in the Four Gospels,” says Rev Dr Pinto.

Maj Gen Bhattacharjee (retd) almost echoed Rev Dr Pinto’s sentiments when he said that controversies keep rising, as many books were written during the lifetime of Jesus and even after that. “In no way do they affect the faith of the devout be it ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or Judas’ Gospel. At best it’s a controversy in the name of modernity”.

Meanwhile, Lucknow Christian College English lecturer Carlyle McFarland terms the controversy “exciting”. However, he also said, “As a Christian, I cannot regard it as ‘Christian’, for scripture is as has been developed by convention.

One cannot jump onto the bandwagon 2,000 years late. It is also true that every historical find adds to the enigma that is Christ. Having said that it is also true that Judas was much a part of God’s plan.”

Cdr A Wilson: “By newspaper reports it seems to be written 100 years later and seems to have been done to cut the growing popularity of Christ. This again, seems a planned mischief, which in no way affects the belief of the faithful and the controversy will die sooner than later”.

“It is not authentic because the church doesn’t recognise it. A heretical viewpoint cannot be taken seriously. In fact, it rejected it as early as the 4th Century,” said Rev Fr Gerry Lobo. And his message to Christians: “Stick to your faith which has been taught to you for the last 2,000 years”.

Officiating principal of Assembly of God Church T Mathai believes in the Church and “its belief is very different from whatever has been printed. The fact remains that it was Christ who made the sacrifice and it was for the good and salvation of mankind. In that light, whether Judas was a traitor or an ally becomes meaningless”.

First Published: Apr 09, 2006 00:01 IST