Today's Blogs

The Judas Hiss

Bloggers lead up to Easter by feverishly plumbing the estoterica of the new Gospel of Judas. They also sadly give up the losing struggle with New Jersey’s smoking ban.

The Judas hiss: It has been a week since the National Geographic Society announced its discovery and translation of an ancient Coptic papyrus scholars have authenticated as the long-lost “Gospel of Judas.” The text, which was originally composed in Greek in A.D. 200, recasts Christ’s betrayer as more of an in-the-know mensch than church canon has historically allowed. Bloggers want to know: gnostic turpitude, or a startling reconsideration of the core tenets of one of the world’s most prominent monotheisms?

At Pisteuo, Justin Jenkins, a church employee in Southern California, raises an eyebrow at the following extract of Jesus’ aside to Judas: “For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve [disciples] may again come to completion with their god.” Jenkins writes in an analytical post, “If we are to assume ‘their god’ is not the God, then apparently the rest of the disciples are to be corrupted in the end, and Jesus knew this would happen. So, in essence Jesus came to earth not for the twelve, but for Judas.”

The paranoid style in theological revisionism is what has Steve Smith at Church Under Attack in high feather. Complaining about the National Geographic Channel’s show about the gospel, he notes: “They continually missed the truth, that Gnostics were not Christian (they continually referred to them as ‘Gnostic Christians’), and that Gnosticism in and of itself most definitely was not a form of Christianity! … Gnosticism, essentially, was a system of belief, that borrowed a bit from Christianity, a bit from Judaism, and then mixed these with the beliefs of pantheistic sects.” Moreover, journalism teacher Rachel Khan at khanterbury tales argues, as to the Gospel’s verifiability, that mediation is the message:“The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written in the 1st century AD. The Gnostic texts were written in the 2nd to 4th centuries. And these were immediately refuted by the Fathers of the Church (most of them martyrs) who were first hand witnesses to the preaching of the apostles or their first disciples.”

Richard John Neuahus at On The Square, the blog of the intellectual Christian journal First Things, calls the exposé “shameless”: “[P]eople in the business of tailoring Christianities to fit their spiritual tastes we will have always with us. That is no doubt why Jesus promised the apostles that he would send them the Holy Spirit to lead and keep the Church in the truth.” Joseph K at Banality Fair is much more amenable to the discovery: “It raises an interesting question: Was Christ really … mad about having to die? If you are a Gnostic, you’d think he’d be ok with it. If not, we wonder about his inner conflict, speculate about suffering. Do we make Christ too human by assuming he reacted the way we would to his last days?”

Read more about the Gospel of Judas schism. Also, Slate’s self-described “anti-theist” Christopher Hitchens has embraced the idea of a sacred Judas as both rational and culturally beneficial.

Mourn ‘em if ya got ‘em:If you want to light up in a New Jersey restaurant or bar, you’re running out of time. At 12:01 a.m. Saturday, a statewide smoking ban goes into effect. Only gambling floors in Atlantic City casinos are being categorically spared. Laissez-faire New Jersey natives are making a stink.

B.W. Richardson, a New Jersey native, goes full-tilt snark at Montag: “It’s a relief that crime has been eliminated in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, so that we can set the police and media on those evil smokers and put them to work rescuing cats. I feel so much safer already.”

Noting that Arkansas last week effectuated a similar law, Jacob Sullum atlibertarian Reason’s blog Hit and Run comments, “In truth, the tobacco companies have pretty much thrown in the towel when it comes to smoking bans, except when they own businesses covered by the laws. And if they should be crying because smoking restrictions will encourage smokers to cut back or quit, thereby reducing cigarette sales, Arkansas and the other states should be shedding even more tears, since the combination of excise tax revenue and lawsuit settlement payments makes them the industry’s main shareholders.”

A rare dissent is registered in the Comments section of a post at the red-tape snipping Homeland Stupidity. Nikki observes: “Actually I don’t think it’s bad for business…it worked out quite well in NYC, I have not seen a significant drop in people going out in NY as an effect of smoking ban….as for casinos…remember there are people who just don’t like gambling…I’m a smoker and it’s not like I’m going to drive to AC to smoke, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard.”

And “LuluGirl896” at Welcome To LuluLand! greets the Garden State spring with an ode to cherry blossoms and sustained willpower: “Its a bit hypocritical, but you must admit the timing couldn’t be more perfect for me! Yesterday I got my QuitNet email reminding me that it had been 8 months since my last puff. Pretty amazing if I do say so myself!”

Read more about the New Jersey smoking ban.