At its simplest, it is an account of the public life of Jesus Christ in the style of the canonical gospels, and based on the testimony of Judas Iscariot as given to his son, Benjamin Iscariot. Hence, it is not given to wild fantasy or sensationalism like the The Da Vinci Code, nor is it a contemporary version of the second-century gnostic 'Gospel of Judas'; it is in a genre all of its own. It is the Diatessaron - a second-century harmonised gospel account - blended with some contemporary New Testament scholarship (albeit liberal), written by a disgraced politician and popular novelist; it is remarkable.
So now we have a 21st Century polluted gospel account. Yes, it's remarkable. The arrogance needed to undertake such an endeavor is staggering. And just to lend the novel some credibility, they dress it up:
The book is presented in a mock leather cover with gilded edges and a ribbon marker.
Wow, it looks so much like scripture, only a expert could tell the difference.
It is approximately the same length as one of the canonical gospels, and divided into twenty-five chapters, which are further divided into verses. Throughout, in red ink, parts of the canonical gospels are either quoted in full or faithfully paraphrased, and references to these verses are given in the margin. Hence, both visually and in terms of content, these authors are trying to present this work as a gospel of Jesus Christ.
Why all the effort? Isn't the Word of God sufficient as it is? Obviously not to these folks. And, I love the phrase "faithfully paraphrased". Speaks volumes, eh? Here are some of the more egregious deviations, as noted by the reviewer:
- In chapter 2, verse 8, doubt is cast on the authenticity of the virgin birth.
- Jesus presented in this gospel appears to have little interest in the 'Kingdom of God', nor in his own Messiahship.
- The book does not declare that Jesus was not the Christ, but it certainly casts doubt on this hypothesis, suggesting, with Judas, that he was merely a prophet, a man of God.
- What is missing, though, is the conclusion Peter reaches in Mark 8:29 "You are the Christ".
- The Judas presented in this account is not the one who betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, but rather one who was only trying to protect Jesus from himself. Judas, it is suggested, is the only one who really understood what Jesus was about.
Okay, we know who's kool-ade they've been drinking.
The most disappointing factor to this is the Catholic scholar that was associated with the project, Francis Moloney, who naievely asserts that his motivation was to get people to know "what God has done for us in and through Jesus Christ". Why not have people read the Bible? Scholars know better than to trust the Bible, as evidenced by the Jesus Seminar and its adherants.