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THE "discovery" of the "Gospel of Judas" makes me nostalgic for India, where in every bazaar there are conmen trying to sell everything from "genuine" paintings, like the Mona Lisa, to "genuine" ruby bracelets.

When I point out to the enthusiastic salesman that his painting could not possibly be the Mona Lisa because it is hanging in the Louvre in Paris, quite unabashed he will say, "But Madam, this is a genuine fake, painted by the best artist in Delhi".

The Judas "gospel" is like that, a genuine fraud. Religion- revisionist stories surface around Christmas or Easter. First we had the fish fossil, tiktaalik roseae, from the Canadian arctic, which could live on land or water and had wrists, just like us.

It is Darwin's missing link (one of the many still missing) which proves conclusively that God did not create the world.

Well, that's the spin the New York Times puts on it anyway.

Then there was the Florida scientist who said Jesus didn't really walk on water.

He walked on ice. There was an unusual cold snap 2000 years ago that froze the Sea of Galilee.

Of course, Peter also walked on water before his lack of faith sank him. Perhaps the ice cracked up, just as this theory cracks me up.

Now there is the National Geographic all agog over a newly discovered "Gospel of Judas". "It totally changes our view of history's greatest traitor," says the publicity blurb.

In this document written about 130-170 AD, long after the events it purports to describe, Jesus is revealed as having urged Judas to betray him.

It was condemned as a fraud by the early church fathers as were many other productions of the gnostic sect.

Gnosis is a Greek word meaning secret. Conspiracy theories always have appeal. Think about the moon landings or September 11, 200l.

I enjoyed the story on a CWN news blog (April 8) of another "New Gospel Discovered: Archeological researchers in New Jersey discover an ancient Christian document that offers a radically new account of the founding of the Catholic Church.

"The newly discovered document, the Gospel of Skip and Muffy, was found in an abandoned house, which formerly housed a Rutgers sorority.

"Theologians and anthropologists agree the Gospel of Skip and Muffy is likely to cause intense debate among Christians, forcing a complete re-examination of all Catholic teachings.

"There is no debate, however, about the authenticity of the document. It was typed on an IBM Selectric II, according to Dr Ernest Litewaite, Professor of Contemporary Archeology at Kutztown.

"Using a Courier 72 10-pitch element, the document is believed to be a copy of an earlier statement crafted by students at an East Coast private college around 1970.

"The Gospel of Skip and

Muffy" is an extended dialogue between two young theologians who take a new approach to the faith.

"The document suggests that young Christians of the 1970s generation did not accept Church teachings on some moral issues."

B F.D. Zeitgeist, Professor of Serious Christianity at Dupont University, said the Gospel of Skip and Muffy would force Christians to re-examine the nature of church authority.

"The church is -- I mean -- it's just a bunch of, like, rules and stuff," said Muffy. "Yeah," Skip replied.

"Prof Litewaite said he had found the manuscript of the Gospel of Skip and Muffy several months ago," said Prof Zeitgeist.

"The significance of the discovery was immediately obvious", said Prof Zeitgeist, "but my publicist suggested that I wait until Holy Week to make it public."




BABETTE FRANCIS is co-ordinator of the Endeavour Forum, a counter- feminist, anti-abortion group



Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN