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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

On St. Irenaeus, the New Gnosticism, and the Codex Tchacos

Those of us who actually have studied history and religion, if not theology or philosophy, as I have been so fortunate to have done and still do, know that there is more historical evidence for Christ than for Julius Caesar and other greats. Sometimes, I admit to an impatience with those who so desire to debunk Christianity as some medieval plot to take fun and independence away from humans--a curse only to be thrown-off at the Enlightenment again. When a feast day like one this week, that of St. Irenaeus of Lyons occurs, I want to jump up and down crying "See, it was all there, early on, folks."

Irenaeus wrote Against the Heresies, (among other things) and the world has copy of a reference in his work on parchment. Irenaeus died in 202 and probably knew St. Polycarp, the student of St. John the Apostle. Irenaeus is famous not only for his warning against Gnosticism, but for his teaching on Mary, the Blessed Virgin and other writings.

Irenaeus's treatise mentioned above, refers most likely to this Codex Tchacos, now in Texas, which includes the false Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic work, among other apocryphal, specifically Gnostic texts. This has not been proven as the same one mentioned in a list of St. Irenaeus, but scholars still are discussing this fragment. Gnosticism and Arianism proved to be the two greatest threats to the Church until modern times with Modernism and Marxism looming in the 19th Century, plaguing us to this day.

That we have so much historical evidence for Christianity is the direct result of the glory of the Incarnation, denied by false religions as well as atheists and new critical scholars. St. Irenaeus would not be pleased with the fact that the New Age Gnostics have picked up on this Gospel of Judas and used it for their own purposes. One only needs to mention the National Geographic presentation on this. Here is linked an interesting commentary on the book by April DeConick, the scholar who criticized the entire handling in the media of the manuscript in 2006-2007. What those scholars are arguing about is exactly a new Gnosticism criticizing the Canon of Scripture and the authority of the Catholic Church. Sigh, this is the never-ending story.

Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, True God and True Man, is honored today through St. Irenaeus.  Dear Saint, pray for us in these confusing times, to instruct the ignorant and correct those in error. Above all, give us patience.