Sunday, April 09, 2006

Rehabilitating Judas

After being lost for nearly 1,700 years, the Gospel of Judas was recently restored, authenticated, and translated. (full info here)

Biblical accounts suggest that Jesus foresaw and allowed Judas's betrayal.

As told in the New Testament Gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus for "30 pieces of silver," identifying him with a kiss in front of Roman soldiers. Later the guilt-ridden Judas returns the bribe and commits suicide, according to the Bible.

The Gospel of Judas, however, gives a very different account. The text begins by announcing that it is the "secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

It goes on to describe Judas as Jesus' closest friend, someone who understands Christ's true message and is singled out for special status among Jesus' disciples.
In the key passage Jesus tells Judas, "'you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.'"

Kasser, the translation-project leader, offers an interpretation: "Jesus says it is necessary for someone to free him finally from his human body, and he prefers that this liberation be done by a friend rather than by an enemy.

"So he asks Judas, who is his friend, to sell him out, to betray him. It's treason to the general public, but between Jesus and Judas it's not treachery."

The surviving copy of the gospel was written in the third or fourth century A.D., but the text was known prior to A.D. 180. In that year St. Irenaeus—then the bishop of what is now Lyon, France—published Against Heresies, a volume intended to help unify the Christian church.
St. Irenaeus's method was to savage alternative theological views and interpretations—including the Gospel of Judas—which he referred to as "fictitious histories."

The newfound account challenges one of the most firmly rooted beliefs in Christian tradition.

Now the most famous antichrist appears to be an enlightened soul, who realized that the betrayal was part of God's master plan to save humanity by having his son crucified. So Judas, being the big man that he was, decided he could live with his soiled place in posterity if it meant everyone got to go to heaven. Other heretical movements advanced ideas such as the notion that Judas was actually crucified in the place of Jesus.


Kathleen Callon said...

If Christians believe these Gnostic texts, and are willing to alter their perception of scripture, it only seems fair that the other Gnostic scriptures should be embraced, too. What about the Gnostic scripture that states Jesus said there was no sin? What about the Gospel of Mary Magdalene? What about all the other gospels that have been changed or disgarded? Very interesting, indeed.

DA said...

Some would say; "huh just another Gnostic sectarian book which means nothing", others would grasp the opportunity to call him a Saint. I think the gospel of Judas illuminates the diversity in Christian belief since the early years. It reconfirms my thoughts on knowing what you believe and never stop asking questions. It also illuminates the way the orthodox church acted, acts today and will act in the future.

Kathleen Callon said...

I agree. One thing I liked about Pope John Paul was that he seemed more like a Dalai to me than a Pope. I know this sounds strange, but he called Muslims and Jews Holy and people of God, and he apologized for the prior actions of The Church. He also condemned the Bush wars. He also seemed to lean towards the mystical...

All religions have traditions a prophets, and if you look at scripture as the stories of people living at certain times... they're all credible. It just seems that we should be trusted to determine what to read and absorb... it shouldn't be altered or omitted by others, because then it's not pure.

Have a great rest of your weekend.

Kathleen Callon said...

You'll be very interested in this:

Gary said...

I think this is interesting, as are the other scriptures not commonly read or included in the Bible. But what's really interesting to me is that anyone who bases their faith or spritual view on historical facts dependent on writings, is asking for problems.

Because these facts change as history is understood anew and as it's learned just how damn human the publishers of all these scriptures were.

Scriptures are maps at best - they have never been the places on the maps. One has to travel to get there and then base faith on personal experience.


Gary said...

P.S. I like the storyline with this new Judas however. It's more complex and will make a much finer television series.

Thanks Dimitri.

Lindsay Lobe said...

The quest for the historical jesus leads us to the Bible and when it was written, since there is only one fleeting reference to him in other historical texts.

The gospels do not represent history, and were not intended for that purpose. No doubt they were also influenced by the religious politcs of that time and it's likeky there were many women deciples, present at the last supper. It could be that the idea of a virgin bith was to downplay the role of women. to deny a natural "mother" of Christ.

Best wishes

Tina said...

Sunday night, I watched the National Geographic channel's 2hr program about the Gospel of Judas.

I find it very interesting that the 2 people who have been reported to be closest to Jesus (Mary Magdalene and now we see Judas) have had their Gospels excluded from the Bible.

I guess the powers that wanted the Bible to be shaped in a certain way couldn't dare to allow a mythical whore and traitor's "good news" (gospel's actual meaning) spread thru the Christian world, eh?

Granny said...

I've often found it difficult to reconcile prophecy and Judas. If the death of Christ was preordained, was Judas anything but a puppet?

And does that mean that freedom of choice is an illusion? I should stop thinking - it gives me a headache.

Thanks for your support for WA (and me) today. Intimidating? Giggle.

madcapmum said...

I think every kid who ever went through Sunday school found the whole Judas story pretty worrisome. He had to do it, yet he was also damned for it. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

I like Gary's take on the role of scriptures. Far fewer of these cerebral wormholes to get tangled in.

Blogger formerly known as JBlue said...

Yes, Madcap, poor Judas!

I studied some of the Gnostic scriptures a bit (okay, small bits of Thomas and Mary M) a few years ago and found them rather interesting. I don't much believe in any of it, so theirs seem as plausible as the others. Actually, some of it made MORE sense.

Good point about the gospel of Judas illuminating "the diversity in Christian belief since the early years."