Archer attempts to rehabilitate Judas
Collaboration with Biblical expert leaves a question: has the Pope read it?
John Hooper in Rome
Wednesday March 21, 2007
One of the fullest articles on it features in Ruth Gledhill's blog over at The Times, with a YouTube interview with Archer, and lots of comments on the article afterwards:
Jesus 'didn't walk on water or turn water into wine'
. . . . I still find it interesting that in cooperation with top theologian and friend-of-the-Pole Professor Francis Moloney, Lord Archer has written a gospel with the endorsement of the RC church that debunks Jesus' 'nature miracles'. In effect, the two authors say, the turning water into wine, the walking on water and the calming of the storm never happened. Of course, as we reported two years ago, the Catholic Church no longer swears by the truth of the Bible in any case. (Update: that last sentence is based on the headline on a story I wrote about The Gift of Scipture document.) . . . .Several commenters pick Ruth Gledhill up on the "no respectable scholar" point. It may also be a little overstated to call Francis Moloney "the world's greatest living Biblical scholar", with no direspect intended to Prof. Moloney.
. . . .Both Father Moloney and Lord Archer told me that they did not include Jesus’ three most famous “nature miracles”, beloved of Sunday School children worldwide, in The Gospel because they “never happened”.
Nor did they include the most famous Judas story of all, where he is reported in the Bible to have betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. The betrayal took place, they say, but Judas thought he was acting as a double agent and that he was in fact saving Jesus’ life. No cash changed hands and Judas did not commit suicide afterwareds (sic).
The idea that some of Jesus’ miracles did not happen and were written to shore up Messianic interpretations of the Hebrew Bible has been common in academic circles for decades. But for many of the faithful it will come as almost as much of a shock as the thought of Jeffrey Archer being the propagator of this new “truth”.
Father Moloney, believed by many to be the world’s greatest living Biblical scholar, drew on years of scholarship to make The Gospel According to Judas as close as possible to those passages thought to be genuine in the three synoptic gospels and the Gospel of St John. But he insisted they leave out verses agreed by scholars to have been made up by the original authors of the Bible . . . .
One curiosity. It is only a year since the Gospel of Judas was published, with its accompanying National Geographic documentary, but it is not referenced in any of the media pieces I have seen about the new Archer novel. I suppose it shows what short memories people have. It is not clear to me whether the current book has any reference to the newly discovered Gospel either.