Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

I've found the news about the newly-discovered 66-page Coptic codex containing the only surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas quite fascinating. As you've likely heard, according to the Gospel of Judas, Judas was no betrayer, but rather the most favored disciple of Jesus, who carried out Jesus' will in "selling out" Jesus and thereby allowing Jesus to escape the shackles of his corporeal existence.
The latter, including Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene, have inspired recent Gnostic scholarship and shaken up traditional biblical scholarship by revealing the diversity of beliefs among early followers of Jesus.

Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.

. . . .

He noted that the Gospels of John and Mark both contain passages that suggest that Jesus not only picked Judas to betray him but actually encouraged Judas to hand him over to those he knew would crucify him.

In a key passage in the newfound Gospel, Jesus had talks with Judas "three days before he celebrated Passover." That is when Jesus is supposed to have referred to the other disciples and said to Judas: "But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."

By that, scholars said, Jesus seems to have meant that in helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus.
From SF Chron

This puts a whole new spin on Judas's kiss of death. What a strange world. The leather-bound codex was found by farmers roughly 30 years ago, in a limestone box next to a pile of human bones, inside a cave in Egypt. There are ongoing debates about the possible authenticity and reliability of the gospel -- some scholars have concluded that the newly discovered gospel is a faithful copy of a gospel roughly contemporaneous with the Gospel of John. It's incredible how the chance surfacing of an ancient document could throw centuries of belief into uncertainty. It's also something of a mindf*ck, surely, for Christians to consider that Judas, the paradigm villain, was in fact the chosen disciple. It's so dark and twisted but somehow unsurprising -- it feels very George Lucas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ"? Worth watching in this context.

MK