Gospel of Judas

Gospel of Judas has been found and presented by the National Geographic Society and tells one of the most interesting stories. While Judas was the one that betrayed Jesus, in this Gospel, it seems that Jesus collaborated with Judas to have him betray Jesus and was in fact the most favored of the disciples. It was discovered in Egypt and is a copy (Coptic) of the original (Greek). It has been authenticated:

“The codex has been authenticated as a genuine work of ancient Christian apocryphal literature,” Mr. Garcia said, citing extensive tests of radiocarbon dating, ink analysis and multispectral imaging and studies of the script and linguistic style. The ink, for example, was consistent with ink of that era, and there was no evidence of multiple rewriting.

In any case, this will definitely be a text to contemplate and give more meaning to those of the faith. This shows a different perspective of the Bible and while some denominations do not take the Bible literally, there are others whose faith will be tested with the discovery of this text.
Via NYTimes

  • observer

    Suicidal “cults” such as at Masada, a major event in Jewish and Roman history that occurred in about 67AD in which an entire group commits suicide needed an explaination, even in the ancient world. Why would someone do this? Obviously these people “thought” they were acting the name of God, had a special relationship with God, thought that others were “damned” and only they were saved because of their specialness, were isolated, didn’t take responsibility for their behavior, but were just “following orders,” don’t see “heaven on earth,” but in an afterlife, etc. This is suicide, anti-life, anti-social thinking found in the Nazis, Waco Texas, Jonestown, and Masada in the Essenes who kept the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yes, an early Church rejected this thinking because it leads to mass suicide as well as individual suicide. Common sense says that Judas died shortly after Jesus so when did he get a chance to write down his story or who did he tell his story to? But even the ancient people had a need to explain suicide cults such a Masada as found in Josephus history of the Jewsish people. That is all this gospel is, an afterwards attempt to explain “cultic’ and “suicidal” thinking, and how not to think or believe. The gospels of life and the gospel of death. We get a choice.

  • observer

    Suicidal “cults” such as at Masada, a major event in Jewish and Roman history that occurred in about 67AD in which an entire group commits suicide needed an explaination, even in the ancient world. Why would someone do this? Obviously these people “thought” they were acting the name of God, had a special relationship with God, thought that others were “damned” and only they were saved because of their specialness, were isolated, didn’t take responsibility for their behavior, but were just “following orders,” don’t see “heaven on earth,” but in an afterlife, etc. This is suicide, anti-life, anti-social thinking found in the Nazis, Waco Texas, Jonestown, and Masada in the Essenes who kept the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yes, an early Church rejected this thinking because it leads to mass suicide as well as individual suicide. Common sense says that Judas died shortly after Jesus so when did he get a chance to write down his story or who did he tell his story to? But even the ancient people had a need to explain suicide cults such a Masada as found in Josephus history of the Jewsish people. That is all this gospel is, an afterwards attempt to explain “cultic’ and “suicidal” thinking, and how not to think or believe. The gospels of life and the gospel of death. We get a choice.

  • There’s nothing in this that says anything about suicide. If anything, it brings new light to what Judas was thinking and why he did what he did.
    While I agree with the comment about Waco, Nazis, and such, I don’t agree with the overall feel.
    Amusing since, usually those that are judging the Christian faith put on blinders and immediately jump to a conclusion. In the same regard, this comment jumps straight to a conclusion without having read the facts.
    The Masada events actually happened in 72-73CE during The Great Jewish Revolt (or known as the First Jewish-Roman War). In the event of desperation, there are many that would do strange things in this world to prevent from entering slavery. Of which many Jews became slaves as an outcome of that war. The Zealots were the ones that made that choice when they were being sieged at the fortress of Masada. There is also a definition issue of “suicide”. Suicide is the taking of one’s life, but they slayed each other since suicide is against their religion. So in technicality, it was mass murder, with one person committing suicide.
    The “common sense” argument is basically a timeline issue. How do you know he didn’t keep a journal? Or didn’t write it down before his death? Were you a historian documenting Judas throughout his lifetime? You assume that there is no document because you don’t wish there to be one.
    In the case that it is true, then what? Does it REALLY matter to how you live your life and what Jesus teaches? To forgive? In the end, my immediate thought is that most people forget the very first and most crucial lesson within Christianity, and that is TO FORGIVE. Gospel of Judas doesn’t tell you to go jump off a cliff in the name of God. So forgive Judas for his sins, and learn from another work that brings more light to the teachings of Christ.

  • darkmoon

    There’s nothing in this that says anything about suicide. If anything, it brings new light to what Judas was thinking and why he did what he did.
    While I agree with the comment about Waco, Nazis, and such, I don’t agree with the overall feel.
    Amusing since, usually those that are judging the Christian faith put on blinders and immediately jump to a conclusion. In the same regard, this comment jumps straight to a conclusion without having read the facts.
    The Masada events actually happened in 72-73CE during The Great Jewish Revolt (or known as the First Jewish-Roman War). In the event of desperation, there are many that would do strange things in this world to prevent from entering slavery. Of which many Jews became slaves as an outcome of that war. The Zealots were the ones that made that choice when they were being sieged at the fortress of Masada. There is also a definition issue of “suicide”. Suicide is the taking of one’s life, but they slayed each other since suicide is against their religion. So in technicality, it was mass murder, with one person committing suicide.
    The “common sense” argument is basically a timeline issue. How do you know he didn’t keep a journal? Or didn’t write it down before his death? Were you a historian documenting Judas throughout his lifetime? You assume that there is no document because you don’t wish there to be one.
    In the case that it is true, then what? Does it REALLY matter to how you live your life and what Jesus teaches? To forgive? In the end, my immediate thought is that most people forget the very first and most crucial lesson within Christianity, and that is TO FORGIVE. Gospel of Judas doesn’t tell you to go jump off a cliff in the name of God. So forgive Judas for his sins, and learn from another work that brings more light to the teachings of Christ.

  • Perhaps the reason it was left out is that the Bible is the “Inspired Word of God” meaning the inspiration of the Bible came directly from God and this “gospel” didn’t meet that criteria and was thus not included.
    I haven’t read it so I won’t comment on whether it is true or not, but I do believe that the ancient church had a good reason to not include it and I seriously doubt it was simply out of spite against Judas. There are many false doctrines available even today outside of this particular piece and I would feel it safe to assume that there were similar issues way back then.
    To make an argument for the reverse… a totally groundless argument but simply to start your mind thinking… what if Judas wrote it to make himself look better in order to save face for generations to come? Perhaps it could be a work of deception could it not?
    Think about it this way… I can say with much more certainty what occurred in the early 1900’s than I can say happened in the 1400’s. Why? Well, my grandfather personally witnessed the events back then… and he’s still alive so I can go get first-person accounts of events. Now apply that to the first time this gospel was dennounced… somewhere around 100 years after Christ’s death (according to the radio this morning). I would much more believe their conclusions as they lived the words of the text than a few philosophers and historians nearly two mellinnia later.

  • Perhaps the reason it was left out is that the Bible is the “Inspired Word of God” meaning the inspiration of the Bible came directly from God and this “gospel” didn’t meet that criteria and was thus not included.
    I haven’t read it so I won’t comment on whether it is true or not, but I do believe that the ancient church had a good reason to not include it and I seriously doubt it was simply out of spite against Judas. There are many false doctrines available even today outside of this particular piece and I would feel it safe to assume that there were similar issues way back then.
    To make an argument for the reverse… a totally groundless argument but simply to start your mind thinking… what if Judas wrote it to make himself look better in order to save face for generations to come? Perhaps it could be a work of deception could it not?
    Think about it this way… I can say with much more certainty what occurred in the early 1900’s than I can say happened in the 1400’s. Why? Well, my grandfather personally witnessed the events back then… and he’s still alive so I can go get first-person accounts of events. Now apply that to the first time this gospel was dennounced… somewhere around 100 years after Christ’s death (according to the radio this morning). I would much more believe their conclusions as they lived the words of the text than a few philosophers and historians nearly two mellinnia later.

  • David Wharton

    As a scholar of the ancient world, I’m always excited when papyrologists find, sort out, and translate a new text.
    In some ways, though (and I’m just judging from the news stories), there may be less here than meets the eye in terms of shedding light on early Christianity.
    Elaine Pagels says such apocryphal texts “expolode the myth” of a unified early Christianity, but I wonder who is the purveyor of that myth. All you have to do is read the Epistles in the New Testament to see that there was lots of diversity of opinion in the early Church.
    And one of the main jobs of the early councils was to sift through the tremendous amount of spiritual literature that was circulating around the Mediterranean world and decide which works were orthodox and which were not. Lots of works like the Gospel of Judas were considered and rejected.
    The Gospel of Judas appears to be a fairly standard piece of Gnostic literature; we’ve known about, and have had in our posession for centuries, many such works. It doesn’t really present any new challenge to Christian doctrine or to notions of scriptural inerrancy.
    For a scholar of the ancient world, though, it’s a very nice find.
    The National Geographic Society, however, seems to be hyping it for maximum publicity, and one story I read indicated that they had not allowed all Coptic scholars free access to the text, though they’ve had it in their posession for a while.
    That’s very bad form.

  • David Wharton

    As a scholar of the ancient world, I’m always excited when papyrologists find, sort out, and translate a new text.
    In some ways, though (and I’m just judging from the news stories), there may be less here than meets the eye in terms of shedding light on early Christianity.
    Elaine Pagels says such apocryphal texts “expolode the myth” of a unified early Christianity, but I wonder who is the purveyor of that myth. All you have to do is read the Epistles in the New Testament to see that there was lots of diversity of opinion in the early Church.
    And one of the main jobs of the early councils was to sift through the tremendous amount of spiritual literature that was circulating around the Mediterranean world and decide which works were orthodox and which were not. Lots of works like the Gospel of Judas were considered and rejected.
    The Gospel of Judas appears to be a fairly standard piece of Gnostic literature; we’ve known about, and have had in our posession for centuries, many such works. It doesn’t really present any new challenge to Christian doctrine or to notions of scriptural inerrancy.
    For a scholar of the ancient world, though, it’s a very nice find.
    The National Geographic Society, however, seems to be hyping it for maximum publicity, and one story I read indicated that they had not allowed all Coptic scholars free access to the text, though they’ve had it in their posession for a while.
    That’s very bad form.

  • Darkmoon,
    It would be very naive to read the so called Gospel of Judas as if it were giving insight into Jesus, or even Judas for that matter. What it gives is insight into what one of the many later sub groups said about Jesus and Judas. To read this as if it had equal standing historically with the four traditional gospels is to want or need to discover a different take on Jesus. Neither this, the Gospel of Thomas, nor another dozen later “gospels” give us any insight into Jesus. They do tell us a lot about how, for example, the gnostic movement co-opted the Christian tradition, as with Thomas. So it is interesting historically, but not as an insight into the historical Judas or Jesus.
    Joel

  • Darkmoon,
    It would be very naive to read the so called Gospel of Judas as if it were giving insight into Jesus, or even Judas for that matter. What it gives is insight into what one of the many later sub groups said about Jesus and Judas. To read this as if it had equal standing historically with the four traditional gospels is to want or need to discover a different take on Jesus. Neither this, the Gospel of Thomas, nor another dozen later “gospels” give us any insight into Jesus. They do tell us a lot about how, for example, the gnostic movement co-opted the Christian tradition, as with Thomas. So it is interesting historically, but not as an insight into the historical Judas or Jesus.
    Joel