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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Judas, A Catalyst of Salvation, or an Advocate of Betrayal, 25 July 2008
By 
Didaskalex "Eusebius Alexandrinus" (Kellia on Calvary, Carolinas, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Secrets of Judas: The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and His Lost Gospel (Paperback)
"Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal. For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve disciples may again come to completion with their God." The Gospel of Judas

Gnostic Gospel Surfaces:
The rediscovery of a long lost Gospel, of Judas Iscariot, has agitated the Church and Christian scholarship. What the Synoptic Gospels and that of John inform us on Judas, as the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is here debated as inconsistent and biased. Therefore, the revelation of an ancient gospel that portrays this despised man as someone who saw his role in the Passion of Christ as integral to a Cosmic divine plan brings new vision to the old story. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have been handed over to the authorities, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. So, without Judas, the Easter miracle would never have happened!
At least four ancient codices, in Coptic and Greek, surfaced on the international artifacts black market, in the last two decades. Quite incredible rumors about them circulated online, but their exact whereabouts was a matter of uncertainty. All four were discovered near Minya, in upper Egypt and smuggled by a certain Cairo dealer called Hannah, offering them in Switzerland in 1983 for $3 millions, but decided in 1984 to import them into the USA. They sat safely in a NY bank vault for five years, when Dr. James M. Robinson (Book author) made an attempt to recover them. This transaction failed; and they were later bought in 1999 by Frieda Tchacos, a Swiss dealer who entrusted them to Bruce Ferrini, an American philanthopist dealer. Mrs. Tchacos repossessed what was left after Ferrini's violations, a sole codex of the Gnostic Gospel of Judas, which was then placed in the custody of Mario Roberty, her lawyer, and the established Maecenas Foundation. They ultimately sealed a deal with the US National Geographical Society, which published the codex.

Who was Judas Iscariot?
Judas Iscariot,Hebrew: Y'h''h 's-q'riyy') was, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, according to the New Testament. Among the twelve, he was apparently designated to keep account of the money funds. He is mostly known for his role in Jesus' betrayal into the hands of the Jerusalim Senhadrin authorities. Judas has been a figure of great interest to esoteric groups, and has also been the subject of speculative Gnostic writings. His name is associated with the Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic gospel that existed since the second century, in a Coptic Sahidic text. Although the certain significance of Iscariot, is uncertain, two main assumptions on its etymology have been proposed. A most traditional explanation derives Iscariot from Hebrew that means 'man of Kerioth'. The Gospel of John refers to Judas as "son of Simon Iscariot" (John 6:71), implying what some speculate that Kerioth refers to a region in Judea, or one of two known Judean towns. A second assumption is that 'Iscariot' identifies Judas as a member of the Sicarii, linking him to Nathnael, who may have followed the Messiah, a promised political liberator of Israel, a group of national Jewish rebels intending on driving the Romans out of Judea utilizing guerilla assassination models.

The Gospel of Judas:
The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel, the text of which was partially reconstructed and translated recently from Coptic. It shows a positive perspective of Judas Iscariot, without claiming to have been written by him. According to the canonical Gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities, who then turned him over to the Roman ruler by whom he was crucified. The Gospel of Judas interprets this act positively, as one performed in obedience to the instructions of Jesus, rather than as a betrayal. This positive portrayal follows from the Gnostic notion that Judas helped to release the spirit of Christ from its physical constraints. In the Gnostic view, the human body is a form of a mundane prison.
The Gospel of Judas does not claim that the eleven disciples knew Gnostic teachings. On the contrary, it asserts that the disciples have not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas Iscariot, as exemplified in the following words: "Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him: Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal. For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve disciples may again come to completion with their God." The Gospel of Judas shows Jesus in various occasions criticizing the other disciples for their ignorance. He interprets a vision they told him, clarifying its true meaning as follows, "Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar -- that is who you are. That is the God you serve, and you are those twelve men you have seen. The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray before that altar. (. . .) will stand and make use of My name in this way, and generations of the pious will remain loyal to Him."

The Secrets of Judas:
Dr. James M. Robinson, an expert in Antiquity and early Christianity, examines the Bible and other ancient texts and reveals what we can and cannot conclude about the life of the historical Judas, his role in Jesus's crucifixion, and whether the Church should review his intentions and possible innocence. Robinson recounts the sensational story of the discovery of a gospel attributed to Judas, and debates how this reshapes Judas's reinterpreted meaning for church history and for the Christian faith. Dr. Robinson begins by examining Judas Iscariot in light of the NT, Gospels and Acts. He discusses that the traditional concept of Judas as a traitor conflicts with the Gospels accounts, creating a debated inconsistency between Church doctrine and Scripture. Dr. Robinson performs the same historical search, similar to his earlier ones, resulting in fascinating facts that cast doubts in the case against Judas. Then, Dr. Robinson devotes the rest of the book, examining the Gnostic source. Once he introduces The Gospel of Judas, he discusses the text and its implications, in a scholarly pursuit of history and archeology. Dr. Robinson's account of the 'smagglers underworld' for obtaining rare historical documents from shadowy sellers would strike most outsiders as dull, but for a concerned Copt, as this reviewer it is of great concern, since the curators of the Coptic Museum have had to try many dark alleys in order to recover the Coptic Gnostic Codices, half a century ago.
I read first about the discovery related events, a couple of years just before the Easter of 2006, in an article in the Coptic weekly, Mia Patria. This book, written by the father of American Coptology is informative and thought-provoking, as well as entertaining.

About the Author:
James M. Robinson is the founding director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity and professor emeritus at the Claremont Graduate School. He is the general editor of The Nag Hammadi Library in English, author of A New Quest of the Historical Jesus, Trajectories Through Early Christianity, and The Secrets of Judas, and is widely known for his pioneering work on the Sayings of Gospel Q.
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