In the news: New Gnostic Gospel sets heart aflutter

The newly-discovered "Gospel of Judas" (GoJ) is hitting the headlines today in the Boston Globe, the New York Times and elsewhere.

We'll have more info on this later. But in case anyone is thinking that this "new gospel" is necessarily going to shed light on Jesus, keep in mind a few basic facts:
1) The dating of the gospel seems to indicate it was written in the second century, well after the canonical gospels.
2) The GoJ is one of at least a half-dozen "gospels" written by Gnostic sects, whose vision(s) of Jesus are not typically in accord with historical realities. The Gnostics seemed to enjoy writing fictionalized versions of the Jesus story that emphasized an aspect of their own teaching.
3) We should recall that according to the canonical gospels, Judas hanged himself or was killed (disemboweled actually) in a fall after ruing his betrayal of Christ. No one is claiming that Judas came back from the dead to write this gospel.

It may shock people that Christianity was not a monolithic block in the early centuries. The GoJ should help us get over the fact that we can look back to the early days to see a purer and more faithful Christianity. In many ways, early Christianity was quite diverse and confused. Much of the energy of the early Church was spent clarifying the competing claims to try to find the truth. It was a messy and often nasty process, but the faith we have is a result. We need not fear that the GoJ or any other gospel (especially from the Gnostics!) will bring down our faith.