March 15, 2006


Gospel of Judas has Church worried (IAN GALLAGHER, 13mar06, The Advertiser)

THE Gospel of Judas - said to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times - is about to be published amid explosive controversy, Britain's The Mail on Sunday newspaper revealed yesterday.

Scholars have translated 26 pages of a crumbling ancient text that purports to tell the story of Jesus's last days from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, a man reviled for almost 2000 years.

Sensationally, the manuscript portrays him not as a villain but as a hero and Christ's favoured disciple.

It claims to repeat conversations between the two men and shows that in betraying Christ, Judas was fulfilling a divine mission.

The Mail on Sunday has interviewed experts involved in the project and has established that, according to the gospel, Christ instructed Judas to betray him with the words: "You will become the apostle cursed by all the others. Judas, you will sacrifice this body of man which clothes me."

It's not as if Christ was taken by surprise when Judas betrayed him, is it?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2006 9:53 AM

old news. The Gnostic works have been known to scholars and anyone really interested for years.

The churches debated and threw out this stuff 1700 years ago.

Posted by: too true at March 15, 2006 10:11 AM

2true: The Church. Not churches.

oj: Absolutely, someone had to. Has always bothered me, because if you are chosen for a role that no one would want, what did you do to deserve it in the first place? Is there perhaps not a backstage reward for being assigned the crappest role in the play. I'd disagree with the writer that Judas has been reviled ... I myself have always had sympathy for him ... All this is assuming the document is authentic -- that is, actually written by Judas --- which I tend to doubt, though it will be hard to prove either way.

So, when Christ said, "Better for him that he had never been born," did he look over at Judas and wink?

Posted by: do-mi-no pi-zaaaa at March 15, 2006 11:20 AM

So can we expect a lawsuit against JK Rowling for pilfering the climax of her latest book?

The most amazing thing about history is that you very quickly learn that everyone who thinks they have new & creative ideas that upend some cherished truth, is usually wrong by several millenia...

Posted by: b at March 15, 2006 11:50 AM

One also wonders about the Biblical literacy of the author--did Jesus "instruct" Peter to deny him three times?

Posted by: b at March 15, 2006 11:52 AM

If Christ "instructed" Judas to betray him, then it's not really a betrayal.

Posted by: Brandon at March 15, 2006 12:05 PM

It's a betrayal, just a necessary one.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2006 12:08 PM

This and OJ's latest writings on the Crucifixion vs. the Resurrection reminds me of something that's always puzzled me about the "Christ killer" epithet applied to Jews. I would ask, "would it have been better for Him to have not been killed and your sins not forgiven?". While I never got an answer, it at least made the topic a no-go area.

P.S. I read a book a while back that had a similar positive view of Lucifer, where he is less a bad angel and more of "it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it" with a bit of Cassandra thrown in (Lucifer would tell it like it is and people hated him for it – surely there's an contributor here who could relate). Can't remember the title, though.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 15, 2006 12:15 PM

Paradise Lost.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2006 12:18 PM

Too true and b are definitely on the right track.

All kinds of sprurious writings purporting to be "gospels" have been come up ovewr the years.

The Church long ago weighed these in the balance of the paradoka--the things handed down--and excluded them from the canon of graphe--scripture. That's what the Church does, make decisions like that.

Thus the Christian canon is attributed to St. Irenaeus of Lyon, who was a disciple of St. Polycarp of Antioch, who was a disciple of St. John the Evangelist, who was--you get it.

These "discoveries" of ancient error are only dangerous to the weak-minded who think that the Bible was dictated by an angel in a cave or found on gold plates under a rock.

There being no shortage of the weak-minded, heretical books are properly considered dangerous.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 15, 2006 12:48 PM

Foreknowledge is not pre-destination, and those who wish to shift the blame for their behavior on others would be especially motivated to put it on those who forsaw that behavior in the first place.

The fact that Satan (nee Lucifer) is a more attractive individual in "Paradise Lost" than God or Jesus is a testament to Milton's ability to give voice to the "old man" and dress it up finely. C.S. Lewis voiced a similar complaint when asked to write a book about an angel instructing a new guardian angel a-la Screwtape: It was easier writing a book about demon behavior than angelic behavior because, as a fallen man, he was much more intimate with the former than the latter.

Finally, this should be viewed in the light of that recent find purporting to be the writings of Gamaliel, Paul's mentor, parodying the Gospel of Matthew that was discovered sealed in a jar in a pre-Titus layer in Jerusalem: the joy of finding such a scathing parody quickly gave way to an "oh sh*t" moment when it was realized that the only way that Gamaliel could parody the Gospel of Matthew before the fall of Jerusalem was for there to BE a Gospel of Matthew before the fall of Jerusalem to parody, blowing to hell the "late dating" skeptics needed to disprove the prediction of the Fall of Jerusalem prophesied therein.

"Do you wish me to blow up the bridge to keep your enemy from following you, or do you want me to leave it intact to allow you to cross over?"

Posted by: Ptah at March 15, 2006 2:17 PM

In Mormonism, Lucifer is seen as an antagonist, but not directly opposed to God.

Their quarrel is over means, not ends. God holds a "Daddy" position, and Lucifer the "Mommy" stance.

As Orrin often writes, when God came to Earth as Jesus, He found out that the argument for the "Daddy" point of view isn't nearly as clearcut as He had previously believed. It's a lot different when you're actually IN the jungle, rather than flying over.

But, when considering this Mormon perspective, it's helpful to remember that we're "weak-minded", as Lou Gots alludes.
It's always good for a laugh when members of various religions and sects start debating which founding myths are true, and which are not.

Posted by: Noam Chomsky at March 15, 2006 2:35 PM

Was it Qoholeth who said that people will call evil good, and good evil? I forget.

Just another sad application of the unforgiven sin. The preachers saw Jesus casting out demons and attributed it to Beelzebub.

The corollary is to do evil and attribute it to God. Same unforgiven sin. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit, they call it.

We see a lot of this in abortionism. In fact, it is absolutely essential to convince the mother that their act is really, truly a good and kind act, otherwise they wouldn't do it. I imagine many of them would say God told them to do it.

At least Andrea Yates had a legitimate psychosis to deal with.

Posted by: American Gentile at March 15, 2006 7:54 PM