Volume. XX, No. 44
Sunday, 30 April 2006

Gospel of Judas (Part 2) Media Madness!

If you want lots of attention, take a Christian conspiracy theory, make it look somewhat legitimate, and unleash it upon the world a few weeks before the 18 May release of The Da Vinci Code movie. That’s essentially how the Gospel of Judas has made headlines across the world!

Last week, we looked at the contents of the Gospel of Judas. We established that it is a Gnostic document with a dubious account of the last days of Jesus and his betrayal. A single papyrus manuscript is found in the desert which repudiates facts that have been established for more than 18 centuries by numerous veritable sources. Despite this, news agencies and media outlets all over the world have reported on the Gospel of Judas, using such sensationalistic claims that an average reader would regard the matter as fact instead of fiction. Some examples:

“We reveal the only known surviving copy of the lost gospel of Judas - One of the most important finds in biblical archaeology gives a new version of Jesus’ betrayal” – National Geographic Channel

For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story.” - CNN

Judas 'helped Jesus save mankind' - Judas Iscariot's reputation as one of the most notorious villains in history has been thrown into doubt with the translation of an ancient text.” – BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4882420.stm)

Gospel of Judas has Church worried” – The Advertiser

SENSATIONALISM to promote readership!
In the competitive world of journalism and media, publications vie against each other for readership and advertising dollars. If they can grab your attention, and spur you to either buy the publication or flip through the pages to see the advertising, they’ve gotten something out of you.

The Gospel of Judas is being sensationalised in a way that intrigues readers by making controversial claims. Never mind that the Gospel of Judas wasn’t written by Judas Iscariot, or that its contents are dubious! News outlets are using the opportunity to shock readers. Discerning readers suspect that something fishy is going on. But many read it and believe it; after all, don’t you assume that articles written in your newspaper, or reports on CNN, BBC and National Geographic are accurate?

National Geographic Society’s commercial interest
It is imperative to note that the National Geographic Society (NGS) has an interest in the commercial success of the Gospel of Judas. Over the last five years, the NGS has invested significant financial resources into preserving, reconstructing and researching the Gospel of Judas (http://www9.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/about.html).

As a result of this investment, the NGS seeks to recover its expenses by commercialising its findings through its television documentary, books on the subject matter, DVDs and magazine sales. Although the NGS is a non-profit organization, it relies on the commercial success of its products to continue its mission. It is irrelevant whether the Gospel of Judas contains any truth or has serious implications. NGS is going to make money from this regardless.

Proximity to the Da Vinci Code movie release
Is it really a coincidence that the Gospel of Judas findings and associated products were released with such fervour, so near to the release date of The Da Vinci Code movie? The Da Vinci Code is one of the biggest releases from Hollywood this year with an estimated cost of USD$125 million and a marketing budget likely to exceed that amount.

The marketing engine for The Da Vinci Code is running at full steam. Trailers are playing on television. Full size posters are covering bus-stops and banners are being strewn across streets. In Rome, they even had the gall to erect a huge banner across the front of a church (The Advertiser, 26 April 2006, p. 39)!

From a business point of view, it makes perfect opportunistic sense to jump on the bandwagon and release material that is loosely related to The Da Vinci Code’s theme of Christian cover-up and conspiracy. Take for example, Time Magazine’s cover story on 24 April 2006 (Australian Edition) entitled The Opus Dei Code. Time runs a nine page expository on the Opus Dei Catholic society which is portrayed as villainous in The Da Vinci Code. Comparatively, a report on the Chinese President’s visit to the US gets a six page treatment and a one-line mention on the cover! The Sino-US relationship has immense effect on the world economy and politics, yet Time Magazine chooses to give front cover treatment to an obscure religious society that nobody really cared about until The Da Vinci Code!

Be discerning
This poses an important lesson for all of us about using discernment when exposed to material released by the media. Just because it’s printed or aired on television doesn’t mean that it’s accurate or unbiased. Do your own fact checking. Use your God-given intelligence to make up your own mind based on truths, facts and Godly understanding. In everything, trust in God and acknowledge Him. He will direct you.

“So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:4-6

In Christ, Leonard Teo

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 43: What is the preface to the ten commandments? The preface to the ten commandments is in these words,  I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Raphael Ng’s father, Winston Selvanayagam, Thomas Tan, & John Tann; Sisters Kimmy Chong, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Auntie Oei and others afflicted with viral illness. "The Lord preserveth the simple I was brought low, and he helped me.” (Ps 116:6).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi & ministry in Phnom Penh & Kandal Province; Bro Roth Phannith - further study in FEBC; b) Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim; e) Church preparations  - our 20th Anniversary Celebration.
Praise and Thank God for – a) YAF & BSAG Bible Study Meetings; Ladies Prayer Meeting; YAF Leadership seminar; b) Journey mercies - Bro Jin Wook Jung (Korea), Mr & Mrs Bredan Kho & family (S’pore); Mr Checkie Mah (Adl); Sisters Grace Chung (Korea), Amber Mah, Mary Ting (Adl), Serene Wong (S’pore), & all those travelling during school & uni semester vacation; c) Working Bees - for hard work yesterday.

Deepest Sympathy & God’s comfort to the Tye & Chong families (Melb) on the home-going of Bro Kevin Tye on Sat morning, 29 April.

Special Item of Prayer: For the LORD to provide $16,585.00 for Pastor’s car.

Looking Ahead: 20th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service on 4 June. Please invite your family, relatives and friends to join us on this joyous occasion.

Looking Ahead: Praise Night on Sat 3 June at 7:30pm.

Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner: Citi Zen Restaurant, Sunday, 4 June, at 6 pm. Dinner vouchers at concession rates available from Sisters Sooi Chin Gong & Peng Ha Yeo, & Bro Jason Tan. Please get your voucher early as dinner places are limited.



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