41 of 71 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Gospel of Judas, The (Hardcover)
Christians all across the denominational spectrum can breathe again! This ancient text is certainly not going to undermine the Faith. It makes fascinating reading, certainly, with the controversial Judas Iscariot as the pivotal character, and unlike some recent novels this is a genuine fourth century translation of a second century text. But one has only to contrast this "Jesus" with the Jesus of the New Testament to see immediately why Irenaeus trashed the gnostics and why their philosophy only ever appealed to a snobbish minority. The "Jesus" of the "Gospel of Judas" is unfeeling and elitist, only interested in people like "Judas" who have the immortal divine spark in them. The other "disciples" do not and so are excluded from immortality - a level of predestination undreamed of even by Calvin. (One wonders why this "Jesus" bothered with them in the first place when his attitude to them is mocking contempt!)Here is no Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep; here is no Good Physician healing the mad and diseased; here is no compassionate judge giving the penitent the chance to "go and sin no more". Here, in effect, the God of Love is not. This is not the Incarnate Lord, but a divinity pretending to be human. No Christian in his / her right mind will be attracted to this! This is a "Jesus" for the fascist or the neo-Nazi. But like all heresies, it probes a lacuna in the Orthodox tradition: was there collusion between Jesus and Judas over the betrayal ? Was Judas the most intelligent of the disciples who understood him best ? Is Judas damned ? (Dante said yes; Julian of Norwich said no; Irish mythology gives him time off) Christian thinkers have speculated about this for generations, and this "Gospel" will not add much to help those speculations. The text ends with the betrayal; it includes neither the Crucifixion nor Judas' messy end (suicide or intestinal rupture.) - One is tempted to ask - frivolously - where Judas found time to dictate this tract among all the activity of Maundy Thursday). For the scholar seeking to fill out the picture of the development of early Christian ideas, this will be priceless and repay much close study. For the ordinary Chritian, or the ordinary seeker after Christ, it will provide a useful comparison to show what the real Christ Jesus is like.