As I wrote my last blog entry on the BYU journal discussing the Gospel of Judas, I kept asking myself the question, "Why do non-canonical texts make us so uneasy?" It isn't just the LDS scholars, or Christian scholars of other traditions. Except for a few, this is the reaction I have seen across the Academy generally. When referring to these texts, they are always the "other," always the "extra," always the "non." There appears to be a satisfaction in writing that these texts are "late" or "legendary" or "gnostic." If "gnostic" then "gnostic" is explained as some crazy, nonsensible, unintelligible, why-would-anyone-want-to-be tradition in antiquity that the church fathers fought, and thank god they did. There is set up a contrast between them and the "real" or "authentic" writings of the church. This is enough to dismiss the text from our scholarly repertoire. But is this historically justifiable?
Personally, I think it worthwhile to reflect on these questions, to ask ourselves why the study of these texts is so provoking? What is it about them that makes us so uneasy? This is not a rhetorical question, but one that I hope to pose as a self-reflection. What are your own answers? I will post mine later this week.