There have been many predictions about the impact of the new fiction ‘The Gospel according to Judas: By Benjamin Iscariot’. Media predicting that it would shock Christians and priests predicting that it would evangelize the un-evangelized. Both will be proved wrong this time. By Liny J.
During the Easter, there could not have been a better gospel to read for the fallen politician and novelist Jeffery Archer than the Gospel according to Judas. Since there did not exist a gospel like that, Archer thought he would write one. So he paired with the ‘world’s greatest living scholar of Bible’ (according to the Times, March 08, 2007) Professor Francis J Moloney (by the way who is the second greatest?). The novel is already released.
The novel, The Gospel according to Judas by Benjamin Iscariot is written from the perspective of Judas. Benjamin Iscariot is the fictitious son of Judas Iscariot. Benjamin is writing from his father's perspective. Though the novel extensively quotes from the Bible, it avoids many of the miracle accounts mentioned in the Bible as Moloney considers them as improbable. (Originally, they might have wanted to name the son as Benedict Iscariot. It is highly probable than miracles).
Unlike other Jesus novels of the recent times, many in the media and many among the priestly class are optimistic about this novel. Media is predicting that it would shock Christians and Catholic priests are predicting that it would evangelize the un-evangelized.
Moloney’s Miracle Problem: Will it Shock Christians? Not Really
Newspapers in general are predicting that Christians would be shocked. They have reasons to believe so. If Moloney, a catholic priest, proclaims that some of the miracles mentioned in the Bible never happened, it would at least shock those Catholics who are ignorant about the scripture. Moreover, Pope Benedict seems to have blessed Jeffery Archer’s ‘gospel’. Times online said:
Although the idea that Jesus's miracles did not happen and were pure invention have been common in academic circles for decades, for many of the faithful it will still come as a shock. (Archer, the story-teller, turns pen to Judas, March 20, 2007).
In fact, if one carefully studies Moloney, it will be clear where the problem lies. Moloney does not believe in virgin birth, and many of the miracles. The reasons are (a) it is improbable (b) all of them seem to convey a meaning. Moloney said to The Times: “Turning water into wine at a wedding feast came "out of a profound desire to show that Jesus, like the God of Israel, is the messianic giver of all good things". Walking on water and calming the seas stemmed from a desire to prove that Jesus had the same mastery over nature as the God of the Hebrew Bible.”
It will be interesting to know the definition of a miracle from Moloney. According to our understanding, miracles by definition are improbable and convey a meaning. So what is Moloney trying to say: Miracles cannot happen because they are miracles!!! What Moloney ought to have shown is that there is a textual corruption in the gospels or that it was not written by eye witnesses. Moloney does not say so. In fact, when Moloney says that these miracles are additions by the early Church, he admits that miracles were there from earliest manuscripts.
And as a matter of fact, the earliest manuscripts attest the facts of miracles. Christians will not be shocked because Moloney views are unfounded in the history. It is rather a classic case of circular argument.
Will the Un-evangelized Hear the Gospel? Not Really
If the newspapers are confident that these would shock the Christians, some priests are equally confident that this would spread the gospel of Jesus. If one leaves out the problems with miracles, and perspectives of Judas, “the Gospel according to Judas by Benjamin Iscariot,” captures many passages from the first century Biblical gospels. Bishop Desmond Tutu thinks that this is a Easter gift as many will read the account of Jesus for the first time. Does it help? Not really. For the simple reason, half truth is half truth. Only the ‘truth, nothing but the truth, and whole truth’ can transform a person.
All Half Truths Must Come to an End
In the end, it will end like any other spurious fiction thrillers. Both the media and priests will be proved wrong this time. After a few months, when all things settle without much impact and people wonder why did it die so fast, remember you first read it in www.sakshitimes.com (We will be publishing more articles on the related subject in the coming weeks).