Q: What is the "Gospel of Judas"?
Father Williams: Though the manuscript still must be authenticated, it likely represents a fourth- or fifth-century text, and is a copy of an earlier document produced by a Gnostic sect called the Cainites.
Q: If authentic, what challenge would this document pose to traditional Christian belief? Will it "shake Christianity to its foundations" as some press releases have suggested?
Father Williams: Certainly not. The Gnostic gospels, of which there are many besides this one, are not Christian documents per se, since they proceed from a syncretistic sect that incorporated elements from different religions, including Christianity.
From the moment of their appearance, the Christian community rejected these documents because of their incompatibility with the Christian faith.
The "Gospel of Judas" would be a document of this sort, which could have great historical value, since it contributes to our knowledge of the Gnostic movement, but it poses no direct challenge to Christianity.
Q: Is it true that the Church has tried to cover up this text and other apocryphal texts?
Father Williams: These are myths circulated by Dan Brown and other conspiracy theorists.
You can go to any Catholic bookstore and pick up a copy of the Gnostic gospels. Christians may not believe them to be true, but there is no attempt to hide them.
"The Gospel of Judas" will be be receiving a lot of publicity in the near future to be timed with Easter. Some will use it to undercut Christianity, as they have with the DaVinci Code. It may be interesting reading but drawing theological conclusions from either The Davinci Code or The Gospel of Judas would be foolish.
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