First up, Jesus Creed’s Scot McKnight does a very basic piece on the first scene of Judas, with a brief background on Gnosticism. He also points to two other sites. First, all you ever wanted to know and more about Judas: Mark Goodacre’s site. (After visiting this site, I now understand why McKnight calls him “the King of Biblical Bloggers." Wow. Who can compete with his Judas megapost?! Ack.) McKnight also points to this page on Mark Robert’s site (previously acknowledged by this blog as a great resource on Gnosticism) , where Roberts posts an in-depth piece on both Judas and Gnosticism—well worth the read. An interesting note within Robert’s piece is a brief discussion of the timing of the release by National Geographic:
Well, it's not the first time that the secular media has used the occasion of Holy Week to release information that seems to undermine orthodox faith in Jesus. Years ago you could always count on Jesus Seminar headlines in the week before Easter. "Brilliant Scholars Deny Fact of Resurrection" would run on the Saturday before Easter, just to encourage the faithful, I suppose. Some media critics see these actions as a plot against orthodox Christianity, and I expect there may be some in the secular media who would love to knock Christianity down a few pegs. But I believe that many others simply think of Holy Week as an opportune time to put out controversial material about Jesus. Interest will be sky high, both from promoters and from critics. Apart from any anti-Christian agenda, a Holy Week release sells ads, books (of which the National Geographic Society is selling two), and DVDs. If you don't mind offending a few Christians, then Holy Week is the best time of year for such revelations.I agree. You gotta be blind not to see how much marketing and popularity drive the timing of the media, ack.
Roberts isn’t the only picking up on this thread. Christianity Today does a play on it with their weblog entry, declaring, “It has been a good week—if you're a Gnostic.” They touch on (and link out to) “the week's top hyperboles:” the Da Vinci Code trial, the Judas release, surveys on Americans and Gnosticism, how prayer doesn’t work and evolution declares itself proved, etc. CT provides, as usual, a great list of links to stories in the media about all those subjects—including this great response to the hoopla surrounding Judas from Bruce Chilton, of all people (he’s a Jesus Seminar advocate). Worth the read, I'm telling you.
Lastly, a nod to GetReligion’s Mollie Ziegler for a short piece “The gospel of ignorance”, which also looks into the hoopla and timing of the Judas release:
This story is sort of akin to folks in 3800 AD translating a Weekly World News story from this year that says Abraham Lincoln was actually a woman dressing as a man. I mean, sure, it’s true that Gnostics existed, accessed Christianity and wrote several tracts. But why does the media treat this as some sort of breaking news story that casts doubt on the veracity of the Gospels? And why has their coverage provided no context and no understanding of the relative credibility of the Gospel of Judas? Perhaps it is because, as Harold Bloom notes, Gnosticism is America’s cultural religion?Her post is full of sharp-edged insights—another post very worth the read. She concludes:
Lord, have mercy. I mean, I’m beyond glad that Christians don’t riot at the slightest offense. But this public relations stunt (coincidentally timed to prep for the fictional Da Vinci Code?) released just before Palm Sunday heading into Holy Week? Christians have every right to be offended. There were some other media outlets that handled this news with a bit more cynicism and analysis, but for the most part, I give the media a failing grade.Lord, have mercy indeed.
In spite of its perplexing tendencies, however, I still think anything that gets God-talk going on this level is well worth it. But, holy smokes, does it ever bring some interesting inhabitants out of the woodwork, sigh.
(Image: Public Domain)