Apocryphal Judas Text Echoes Modern Novel

Or should I say presages? I don’t pretend to be a biblical scholar (I only pretend to be a pundit), and I’m not trying to start any controversies (I would imagine the Decision ’08 readership ranges from devout faith to strict atheism), but I do find this intriguing, concerning the recently revealed discovery of the ‘Gospel of Judas’:

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will “exceed” the other disciples by doing so.

Though some theologians have hypothesized this, scholars who have studied the new-found text said, this is the first time an ancient document defends the idea.

I’m not familiar with the theologians whose work is anonymously cited here, but I am familiar with both the book and the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. It’s a major plot point of the Nikos Kazantzakis fictionalized account of the life of Jesus that Judas was a loyal, if skeptical, revolutionary who came to believe Christ was indeed the Messiah and had to be reluctantly persuaded to betray him in order to fulfill God’s plan.

Interesting, if nothing else…

11 comments to Apocryphal Judas Text Echoes Modern Novel

  • I had that same thought! I thought it was really strange that in the stories about it, people kept talking about The Da Vinci Code, but there was nary a mention of The Last Temptation of Christ.

  • Yeah, you know, I could care less if I never hear another word about The Da Vinci Code…all of that stuff is old hat…anyone who ever had a fascination with Freemasons, the Knights Templar, Rosicrucians, etc., etc. could tell you that Dan Brown is repackaging some VERY OLD wives’ tales…

    At least the Last Temptation had the merit of being a serious, meditative book and movie, regardless of one’s faith or lack thereof…

  • Oh, I agree. I’m by no stretch a religious man (I’ll be writing a post on that over at my recently rejuvenated blog at some point soon), but I really loved The Last Temptation of Christ. I’ll have to check out the book sometime.

  • You really should – it’s a helluva book (no pun intended – well, a little pun intended)…

  • Gwedd

    Comrades,

    It’s also possible that Judas sold out Jesus because Jesus refused to condemn the Romans. Judas was what folks today might call a ‘terrorist”. He likely supported jesus because he saw in jesus’ works a way to toss out the Roamn government, to start the revolt that would return Judea to the Jews.

    Jesus shocked many with his admonishment to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God. That was tantamount to recognizing the legitimacy of the Roman occupation, something many orthodox Jews refused to ever consider.Jesus also was kind to the Centurian who asked for his help. Those actions alone would have caused a zealot like Judas to reconsider his support of Jesus. How could Jesus be the Messiah, the Saviour of Israel, if he recognized Roman governance?

    Judas likely saw Jesus’ entire movement as a means to start the revolution to toss out the Romans. He most likely was thrilled with Jesus’ actions at the Temple Mount, overturning the tables and starting a virtual riot. Yet Jesus withdrew, failed to pursue the revolution, and Judas would have been beyond angry. Betrayal is an age-old means to settle the score, to strike back.

    Judas was just about 3 decades to soon. The revolution would come, and it wad be as fatal as the plague. More deadly, in fact, because it would take nearly 2 milleniums for Israel to regain it’s lands, and even now, it’s in a daily fight for existance.

    Respects,

    Gwedd

  • OK, but I don’t understand how that has anything to do with the recently discovered document in question. You’re garnering all of your assumptions straight from the bible.

  • Ian

    Gnostics were known for teaching that salvation was only possible through ‘secret knowledge’ and this “Gospel of Judas” was part of their secret knowledge 101 course for their special teachings… The Gnostics were nothing short of a cult that had an inner circle of people who were taught exclusive and heretical things so that they could lord it over others…
    The great thing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it doesn’t require secret knowledge, Jesus gave everything you need on the cross! Gnostics were the Scientologists of the second and third centuries, the reasons their teachings weren’t included in what we now consider the bible is two fold… firstly they wanted to keep their secret knowledge in their own club so they could talk about how everyone else had missed out on really knowing Jesus, and secondly everyone else knew that they were a bunch of crackpots!
    The Gospel is quite simple, Jesus went to the cross, either designed or through a series of events to redeem God’s creation! The creator sacrificed his own living son to sin for the creation! When you believe that and build your life around that, thats when you experience the grace of God, no secret knowledge needed!

  • Alecia

    Whenever we disagree with a religious viewpoint, it is a sect. The Gnostics were the early Christians – they were persecuted by the Romans and Catholic Church alike. To dismiss them as merely a sect is to trivialize them. They were what early Christians were about.
    I am hearing about them only recently – last few years – and frankly, am I glad to have found them. They are the missing link to some of the Christian viewpoints we try to span while explaining to the unsaved why they need religion.

    Does anyone reading really believe that a major movement in the Cosmos, the coming to earth in human form of the saviour of mankind, who claimed to be God, his death and resurrection, would be covered by simply saying “Lord Jesus, come into my heart”

    That is the first step and the Little Child step – but even little children grow into adults. That growing up process is what was taught in the Gnostic texts and what St. Paul refers to in “now we see through a glass, darkly..” It is time for us to come int the light and walk as men…a Loving God, a Forgiving GOd, the Father of All, sets up one of his children to be a scapegoat (JUDAS) and the other as a Sacrificial Lamb…see the connection? We had better or forget about the LOVE OF GOD..he would instead be a cruel master indeed.

    We have both Judas and Jesus to thank for our salvation..ever thought about that?

  • Michael

    The lost gospels abound in Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, and other translations which seem to be overlooked for their lack of credential; but it is the Coptic versions which present a problem to those who confuse Gnosticism with Christianity, and the Unnamable God with the demiurge of the Gnostics. The Nag Hammadi library is replete with works of the Gnostics; and, while many of their teachings reflect a spirituality of sorts, the heavenly heirarchy they espouse consists of archons and watchers and so forth, more closely resembling the new-age ideas than those of Christianity. To determine the thrust of early Christianity, one needs not only to read that which has been kept as Canonical, but also that which was used as teaching material in the early churches, some of which was in the form of myth, carrying a lesson. The gospels of Bartholomew and Peter, the Shepherd of Hermas, the apocalypses of the various patriarchs— all of these carry more instruction than does the hypostasis of the archons; and, let’s be clear: The Gnostics believed that He Whom we call the Alpha and Omega is an impostor whom they call Ialdabaoth. This is not the same God that is the Father of Jesus; and, according to the Gnostics, Jesus merely APPEARED TO DIE on the cross and then arise rather than to have actually done so. Gnostics and Christians were never the same people; and Gnosticism is not an interchangeable definition for Christianity.

  • The Theologian

    Something that I find interesting is that with all this talk of the “Gospel of Judas”, no one as of yet has mentioned how some of it supports the teachings of Islam. This goes to show how limited most people’s pursuit of the truth is…they are generally unwilling to accept the truth unless it suits their needs. I would encourage all scholars (amateur & professional alike) to look into Islam as it shares much with both the “Old Testament” and “New Testament”. Most of us non-Muslims are unaware that the Qur’an, like the Bible, reveres the prophets Abraham, Moses & Jesus son of Mary & can perhaps give us insight to what the truth really might be.

  • Wynand Koegelenberg

    Responding to the last comment, I have a stipend to add. Before I do so, I would like to assure everyone that I am not inviting the wrath of any religious group whatsoever; I simply offer my thoughts and encourage dialogue – my ideas are not new or enlightening in any way, purely musings about the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. As far as I understand, these faiths all centre around a “core”; that of a singular (? – for the sake of arguement please ignore the trinity) superior being; G.., God, Allah (and all derivatives according to scriptures and writings). Due to this fact, I find it very disturbing that warmongery exists between the aforementioned three faiths. In my very simplified reasoning, the differences are:

    (1) Jewish – before Jesus
    (2) Christian – during Jesus
    (3) Muslim – after Jesus

    I am using “Jesus” as a chronological reference in this regard. Also, very interestingly, the common enemy of all three faiths is that of Satan. Budhists, Wicans, Scientologists, (add all the other groups of spiritual worship that spring to mind) do not have a combined “enemy”. So surely there is a certain commonality between these three “Messiah awaiting” faiths?

    My protracted (sorry!) point is this: all three faiths are based on a central belief system of sorts; so why the infighting? I am not religious (and refuse to be labelled “agnostic”) but do ponder matters spiritually sometimes.

    Just wondering

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