Skip to comments.'Gospel of Judas' gives new view of Jesus' betrayer
Posted on 04/06/2006 7:11:35 PM PDT by freedom44
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Judas Iscariot, vilified as Christ's betrayer, acted at Jesus' request in turning him over to the authorities who crucified him, according to a 1,700-year-old copy of the "Gospel of Judas" unveiled on Thursday.
In an alternative view to traditional Christian teaching, the Judas gospel shows the reviled disciple as the only one in Jesus' inner circle who understood his desire to shed his earthly body.
"He's the good guy in this portrayal," said Bart Ehrman, a religion professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "He's the only apostle who understands Jesus."
The Judas gospel's introduction says it is "the secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot." Later, it quotes Jesus as saying to Judas, "You will exceed all of them (the other disciples) for you will sacrifice the man who clothes me."
"The idea in this gospel is that Jesus, like all of us, is a trapped spirit, who is trapped in a material body," Ehrman said. "And salvation comes when we escape the materiality of our existence, and Judas is the one who makes it possible for him to escape by allowing for his body to be killed."
Rev. Donald Senior, president of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said the document revealed the diversity and vitality in early Christianity.
"The question becomes ... does this tradition, this alternative story, if you like, in the gospel of Judas have a claim that in some sense is equal to the rival claim of the gospel tradition?" Senior said.
It is not known who wrote the Judas gospel. The copy unveiled on Thursday is of a document mentioned critically in the year 180 in a treatise called "Against Heresies," written by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon in what was then Roman Gaul. It spoke out against those whose views about Jesus differed from those of the mainstream Christian Church.
In the Bible's New Testament, Judas is portrayed as the quintessential traitor, accepting 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus by identifying him to Roman soldiers. The biblical Gospel of St. Matthew says Judas quickly regretted his treachery, returned the silver and hanged himself.
The New Testament contains four Gospels -- of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- but many more so-called apocryphal gospels were written in the first centuries after Christ's death, attributed to such disciples as Thomas and Philip and to his female follower Mary Magdalene.
HIDDEN IN EGYPTIAN DESERT
Ehrman, Senior and other experts on Christianity spoke at a briefing at the National Geographic Society, which unveiled a translation of the Judas gospel and which helped authenticate, preserve and translate the document.
The leather-bound copy of the gospel was written in Coptic script on both sides of 13 sheets of papyrus, and spent most of the past 1,700 years hidden in a cavern in the Egyptian desert, said Terry Garcia of the National Geographic Society.
This document was probably copied from the original Greek manuscript around the year 300, Garcia said. Discovered in the 1970s near Minya, Egypt, the volume -- including the gospel and other documents -- was sold to an Egyptian antiquities dealer in 1978.
The dealer offered it for sale without success, and eventually locked it in a bank safe deposit box in Hicksville, New York, for 16 years, which hastened its decay. In images displayed at the briefing, the papyrus looked like brown, dry autumn leaves.
Garcia said it had crumbled into more than 1,000 pieces.
In 2001, the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Switzerland began an effort to transcribe and translate the volume from the Coptic. In the next years, scientific tests -- including radiocarbon dating, ink analysis and multispectral imaging -- showed the document was copied down around 300.
The Judas gospel is being published in book form by National Geographic and pages from the papyrus manuscript will be on display at the society's museum in Washington starting on Friday. The manuscript will ultimately be housed at the Coptic Museum in Cairo.
This sounds like just another of the "Gnostic Gospels" many of which were discovered in Dag Hamadi (sp?) in Egypt in the 1940s. Written a couple of hundred years after the real Gospels, they were a heresy well-known from history - though the actualy works didn't reappear til the 1940s.
Really, there is no "there" there. Its an old story. It is interesting from a historical perspective, but as for religious guidance its credibility is close to nil...
I'll stick with the King James of 1611 the version that has the anointing. The rest of these **other books** are pretty much worthless. All through the ages all these other secret books have been put out trying to put a spin on who Jesus is NOT. Don't believe any of them...
You are referring to the Neg Hamadi scrolls and yes, this sounds very similar.
Interesting from a historical perspective, as this sort of thing does show some of the tribulations of the early Christian Church.
I understand and do not disagree with what you are saying here... but at the same time one wonders about his personal accountability since what he did was necessary in order for prophecy to be fulfilled and for Christ to die for our salvation. This kinda gets into that confusing area between free-will and pre-destination.
I am just glad it is not my place to pass judgement upon Judas.
Judas is the most problematic of the disciples. His fervor and commitment to the Lord have never been in question. His behavior in sacrificing Jesus was undoubtedly motivated by his deep belief that Jesus would escape the snares of his enemies as he had done many times before. On this occasion, we can assume, Judas believed that Jesus would establish his earthly kingdom.
The betrayal of Judas is the same betrayal of which each of us is guilty. We seek an earthly kingdom and sacrifice our spiritual gifts to achieve our vision.
The image of Judas as co conspirator with Jesus is not a contemporary view. It is based in a belief that spirit can only escape flesh through death. This is not our understanding of Jesus. Traditional Christianity views Jesus as the perfection of the human condition fulfilled by the perfect presence of God. Jesus' death is a terrible sacrifice. His ressurection from death, His return to life, provides a Way for mankind to overcome sin sickness and share in the perfection of Jesus as Christ. It is not at all clear that the writer of this early heresy accepted the earthly divinity of Jesus.
The fragment is from the Persian tradition of Manichaeism, a Roman view from the 3rd century that held a belief in cosmic dualism in which the flesh and material existence are evil and the realm of the spirit is good. The early church was very clear that this view is heretical.
Was Judas in the will of God?
Who is of Judas?
One of my friends in church pointed out that Judas seemed to be the most disappointed in the fact that Jesus did not establish an earthly kingdom right away. Apparently, there was a school of thought at that time which expected the descendant of Old Testament kings to kick out the Romans and other undesirables and establish a new Holy Land. Of course, Jesus repeatedly explained that was not God's plan but some people never listen...
Well, directly it was the Romans, but He knew that was going to be the outcome when He surrended to them. So, indirectly, Yes.
2 Timothy 3 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Take note in the above quoted text, from the KJV, that scripture is with the lower case "scripture" instead of the upper case "Scripture". When in lower case, it refers literally to ALL scriptures or writings.. only when it is upper case, does it specifically mean Holy Writings. Further, if Christ HAD been referring to Holy Script, then he would not have been referring to ANY books of what are now the New Testament, nor to anything called "The Bible" since they did not exist in his lifetime.
Those books which are included in the Bible were decided by MEN. The Church itself readily explains why the book of Thomas, which being written closest to the time of Christ makes many theologians suspect it to be the most accurate Gospel, was left out. A single phrase, which quotes Christ as saying...
"Jesus said: I am the light that is above them all. I am the all; the all came forth from me, and the all attained to me. Cleave a (piece of) wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there." (My emphasis added)
The Church interpreted this phrase as meaning one could find Christ wherever one sought him, and that one did not need the Church to be your intermediary. They viewed this phrase as a threat to the authority of the Church, thus rejected the book. I dunno about you, but I am not putting my faith in men, especially when what they are preaching is self serving.
Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you.
It is easy to see why the Church would view such passages as a threat to the authority of the Church.
Thanks for the scripture. It is always timely to speak of the foundation of the church, the inner Revelation of Jesus Christ, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
Can you tell me the version, chapter and verse you quoted?
It's easy to see why Christians would view those passages as promoting pantheism rather than Christianity.