In the last week we had two events related to Gnosticism: co-author Michael Baigent loses his court case of plagiarism against Dan Brown, and the National Geographic Society releases a documentary about the lost gospel of Judas. Baigent wrote the excellent “From the Omens of Babylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia.” Dan Brown’s book apparently has a Gnostic angle; I really can’t say how it plays out since I found it impossible to read more than a page or two.
About the Judas gospel—in my opinion this is not an axe cleaving through Christianity. The important aspect of the last days of Jesus is that he had foreknowledge of his betrayal. The betrayal did not come suddenly out of the blue for Him and that makes all the difference in the interpretation of those events. Martin Luther says it best in “The Bondage of the Will:” If God for-knew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas became a traitor of necessity and it was not in the power of Judas or any creature to act differently, or to change his will from that which God had foreseen. It is true that Judas acted willingly and not under compulsion but his willingness was the work of God, brought into being by his omnipresence like everything else. If you don’t allow that the thing God foreknows is necessarily brought to pass you take away faith and fear of God, you undermine all Divine promises and threatenings and so you deny deity itself.”