They just released the text of a new document that is reportedly more than 1,700 years old that addresses the role played by Judas in the crucifixion of Jesus.
And it's a bombshell, of course.
Discovered in El-Minya, Egypt in the early 1970s, the document is written in the ancient Egyptian Coptic language by a group that the Christian Church for years scolded as "heretics" for challenging the "official line" about how Christianity began.
Sound familiar? It's a common story. People in power often lie in order to manipulate the public perception and build great empires and wealth.
What was the lie in this issue? Well, according to the "Judas Gospel" as it is called, Jesus actually conspired with Judas to identify him to the Roman Soldiers. Judas didn't betray Jesus. He was just doing what Jesus told him to do.
The "Judas" name has gone down in historical infamy. Judas is scorned as a betrayer, but he may in fact just be an accomplice in a grand power scheme.
I don't know if it's true. But it doesn't matter. The lessons apply to everyday life.
As a Christian myself - whose mother is from the birthplace of Christianity, Bethlehem, Palestine (pre-1948) - the story has meaning, not just religious, but political.
A political Judas
Judas defines someone who betrays their leader, their boss, or even their president.
For example, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former top aide to the man who really runs the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney, is viewed as a political Judas. Libby is the man who "betrayed" the president and leaked the information that exposed the undercover CIA wife of a top aid who challenged the Bush doctrine (lies) on why we invaded Iraq.
The reasons for the Iraq invasion were a sham, of course. But it didn't take us 1,700 years to figure that out. Most Americans knew it, but politics has a way of pushing the truth aside. So, Americans, who hate immigrants, Arabs, Muslims, minorities, ethnics and foreigners, tend to support the Bush doctrine that Saddam Hussein was essentially flying the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. The best way to vent anger is to have someone to hate.
Most clear-thinking Americans, mainly on the left, believe Bush was merely doing what he was told by his Svengooli, Dick Cheney. They used September 11 as a convenient cover to attack and destroy the enemy of Bush's father. It was all about vengeance not a war on terrorism at all.
But now it turns out that Libby is not the Judas we have all been led to believe. He was just following orders, a line that certainly has no place in any Heaven.
Oblivion of scorn
It only took three years, not 1,700 years, to figure out what happened. We didn't have to discover a crumbling text written in the ancient language of the NeoCons. Well, we did discover a few of their memos, including one in which Bush and Cheney explored ways to provoke Saddam Hussein to justify starting the invasion they were planning long before September 11 fell in their laps.
Like Judas, who, facing an oblivion of scorn, obviously told his version of the story to someone who wrote it down on the ancient documents unearthed in Egypt, Libby also decided to tell his story, in the hopes of avoiding the jail time he deserves.
Libby said President Bush ordered him to leak the information about the undercover CIA wife of the aid who betrayed the president's Iraq lies.
It doesn't take the burden off Libby for lying. Just as the Judas Gospel doesn't take the burden off of Judas for being complicit in a lie intended to build up a public perception.
And, it's not the same as having sex with an intern in the White House. But, it might be just enough of a crime to revive calls for President Bush's impeachment.
Of course, just as the Republicans and Democrats are having their heated and emotional debate about whether or not Bush did or did not lie to the American people about Iraq, Christians are also having a heated and emotional debate about the Judas Gospel.
I've always had a fundamental problem with the whole Judas story.
Jesus had been walking the streets of Jerusalem for about a week, between what we now call Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, which, as it happens, we commemorate this month.
Jesus was well known to the Romans and to the Jewish priests who were angry because Jesus, a Rabbi, was calling himself "God's son."
Bush was basically also saying that his decisions were the result of instructions from God, too. He referred to the Republican Party as "the Party of God" in a speech after the invasion and occupation of Iraq began in March 2003 - where I come from, we call that Hizbullah, by the way. But that's another story.
How come the Roman soldiers and Jewish Priests needed Judas to tell them who Jesus was? Didn't they know who he was?
I wonder if there is a parallel here between the Judas-Jesus story and the Libby-Bush story. If Bush told Libby to lie, then who told Bush to tell Libby to lie? Someone had to, right? It was God who told Jesus about his fate. Did God give instructions to Bush?
Oh my gosh. Don't tell me that Vice President Dick Cheney is Bush's "God?"
As we all now know about the illegal invasion of Iraq, many innocent people have been killed there. Who gave Cheney the power to play God anyway?
I prefer to refer to Cheney as Bush's "Svengooli." It fits him far better than the title of "God."
After all, Cheney has always been too sinister, and even a little too creepy to be any kind of God at all.
Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and standup comedian. Based in Chicago with the Southwest News-Herald Newspaper, he writes humor and analysis for newspapers around the country. He can be reached at www.hanania.com