The Gospel of Judas Hardcover – 6 Apr 2006
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Jesus says to Judas: "Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star." -from "The Gospel of Judas
"(The Gospel of Judas) is one of the greatest historical discoveries of the twentieth century. It rivals the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi." -Bart D. Ehrman, author of "Lost Christianities"
"The discovery of the Gospel of Judas is astonishing." -Elaine Pagels
"The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot..." -"The Gospel of Judas"
The story of the gospel s rediscovery and salvation [The Lost Gospel by Herbert Krosney] reads like a Hollywood mystery. The Boston Globe
The long journey of the codex that ended up in box No. 395 at the Citibank began in the caves along the Nile when peasants discovered leather-bound papyrus written in an indecipherable language, according to Herbert Krosney, author of The Lost Gospel. Newsday
Jesus says to Judas: Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star. from The Gospel of Judas
(The Gospel of Judas) is one of the greatest historical discoveries of the twentieth century. It rivals the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi. Bart D. Ehrman, author of Lost Christianities
The discovery of the Gospel of Judas is astonishing. Elaine Pagels
The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot The Gospel of Judas"
"The story of the gospel's rediscovery and salvation [The Lost Gospel by Herbert Krosney] reads like a Hollywood mystery." -The Boston Globe
"(The Gospel of Judas) is one of the greatest historical discoveries of the twentieth century. It rivals the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi." -Bart D. Ehrman, author of Lost Christianities "The discovery of the Gospel of Judas is astonishing." -Elaine Pagels "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot..." -The Gospel of Judas
About the Author
Rodolphe Kasser, Ph.D., a professor emeritus on the Faculty of Arts at the University of Geneva, is one of the world s leading Coptologists. He has organized the restoration and prepared the editio princeps of Codex Tchacos, containing the Gospel of Judas and three other Coptic Gnostic texts. Marvin Meyer, Ph.D., Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University and Director of the Chapman University Albert Schweitzer Institute, is one of the foremost scholars on Gnosticism, the Nag Hammadi Library and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament. Gregor Wurst, Ph.D., is professor of Ecclesiastical History and Patristics at the University of Augsburg, Germany. Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D., is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an expert on early Christianity."
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For a broader appreciation of alternative early Christian writings - such as the gospels of Thomas and Judas - I would recommend "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas" by Elaine Pagels which shows that a key difference between so-called Gnostic writings and those of more orthodox Christianity is the discovery of truth. In books like the Gospel of Judas Jesus is represented as teaching that the kingdom of God is within us, and we must search within ourselves to discover the truth. In orthodox Christian books such as the Gospel of John the light of truth is not to be found in ourselves but in Jesus, who alone is the Way to God.
So alternative early Christian writings such as the Gospel of Judas present a more open and pluralistic way to God, as opposed to the more exclusivist dogma of traditional Christianity.
Other scholars (outside the 'chosen few') have remarked that the Gospel of Judas does not actually add much to the sum total of knowledge surrounding Gnostic Cosmology. All the themes in it are represented elsewhere, even in the New Testament canon where there is clear collusion betwen Jesus and Judas in permitting his own betrayal. Without Judas's betrayal in terms even of strict orthodox theology, there could have been no sacrifice and thus no salvation.
The links to pre-Christian hellenic mystery cults (holy betrayal), the influence of Platonism (the 'real' realm of light and the insubstantial realm of darkness, the 'emmanations' of minor deities), the hefty influence of Docetic ideas (the mere 'clothing' of Jesus's human body, the despising of the flesh), the influence of Manacheistic , hyper-Dualistic belief systems (The Demiurge, the Evil Creation) are all found elsewhere. What is fascinating (but not surprising) is to find a Judas cult which turns on its head the usual order preserved in the biblical tradition - that of the disciples pre-eminence and Judas's perdition, and the rehabilitation of the Sodomites, Sethites and Caanites!
Neither is it sustainable as is often attempted, to claim that this Gospel, along with other gnostic strands, promotes 'The Kingdom Within' in stark contrast to the orthodox position of the 'Kingdom without'. The tradition that the 'Kigdom is within you (or amongst you)' is clearly articulated by Jesus in the synoptic gospels.
Confusion reigns supreme within the strange and perplexing Gnostic World, which is at much at war with itself as with 'orthodox' Christianity. It is certainly more exclusive! Only the elect(those with the 'divine spark') can be 'saved'! In this Gospel that is Judas, in other gnostic texts its somebody different. Every time. Sadly, in many (but not all) branches of orthodox christianity this 'exclusivity clause' has been perpetuated and is alive and flourishing even as I write.........
I will just give some examples. Hundreds of pages could and should be written about the unacceptable presentations of Ehrman and Meyer. They start from the very beginning by considering this text can be classified as "Sethian Gnosticism" and then they only compare what they can read of the text with other Gnostic documents of the period and of the same trend. From time to time they show some parallel elements in the official gospels.
They obviously stand for the standard approach of Jesus and do not even use the word "traitor" and its derived brothers and sisters in quotes. Judas is once and forever a traitor and his act is once and forever treachery, betrayal, etc. That is anti-historical. A historian is supposed to remain neutral and a history book, even on the worst tyrant, Hitler for example, would not call him systematically and without a distance-building stance a butcher or whatever.
But there is a lot worse. They have decided that this gospel was written in 130-150 CE and originally in Greek. They forget that Christ preached to a lot of people who memorized his preaching with their photographic ears and then went around repeating what they had heard. The disciples were the perambulating loudspeakers of what Jesus had said and around them many others had a perfect memory of just that, what Jesus had said. The oral tradition of an oral society in which only a very small minority of people can write and read.
A continent like Africa entirely lived on that tradition till the Europeans pounced upon them with writing, reading and schooling. Jesus preached in Palestine and Jerusalem (the Temple essentially). He was a rabbi. So he preached in the local language, Aramaic, though he probably understood and spoke some Greek and Latin, and he was able to read Hebrew, and probably write it too. His preaching was only later translated into other languages, Greek first of all, when the preaching went out of the Jewish community, essentially due to Paul (who is in no way one of the twelve apostles and had little commerce with Jesus when alive) and then the apostles sent by James at the beginning to Egypt and other non-Jewish places. To pretend the original language was Greek is absurd.
Maybe the original written version was in Greek, and hence had been translated from Aramaic. But not the original preaching of Jesus or Judas or any other apostle, including as for that the Jewish legion officer Saul, later to become Paul, the self appointed apostle of the Gentiles. This of course leads to mistakes. Both clerical and university research scholars are working in France on the parallel verses of the synoptic gospels and they have found that the first verse has a Hebrew or Semitic basis whereas the second verse has a Greek basis, which means the original preaching and probably writing was in Hebrew (or Aramaic as for that) and that a second Greek re-writing was added to the original text when it was translated into Greek.
If we take into account the fact this society was an oral society, then the oral tradition has to go back to Jesus himself, and there is no other way to look at things that could be reasonable. Comparing is not proving, but the teachings of Buddha were also kept three full centuries orally before they were transcribed in an artificial language created for that purpose. In other words our commentators are thinking within a western and modern frame of mind.
They miss the real point, that Jesus was bringing together behind him several trends of people: the zealot radicals (of the Dead Sea among other places) represented by his own brother James, the "Gnostic" radicals inheriting all kinds of traditions from elsewhere and when (pagan, Semitic, Asian, Indian, etc) centering their vision on a ternary mental architecture, also many simple people in Palestine (Jewish or not) who just wanted the world to change, more freedom to come, more equality to be made possible, and we could even add to these the revolutionary radicals of the Barabbas type.
Jesus thus had to bring together various approaches and the best example is the trinity of his God (is it Jesus' invention or a later improvement?), the role of the mother, his mother (that reminds us of Barbelo) and Jesus' virginal birth (that reminds us of the Autogenes the Self Generated) as opposed to the dual Jewish God of Genesis (God and his Spirit, the two Luminaries, the binary dividing moments of the creation) and the total rejection of Eve and most women in the Old Testament's first five books. The last point is "thirteen".
To ignore that "thirteen" is a structural positive number in that region at that time is plain incompetence. There were (and still are for the Jews) thirteen months in the Jewish, Sumerian, Mesopotamian calendars and there were (though that has been westernized) thirteen zodiac signs, the thirteen having to do with the Serpent Holder from old Egyptian as well as Greek traditions, thus Semitic and Indo-European. That changes everything. The thirteen month sets the lunar year back into a solar frame and the thirteenth zodiac sign is the healer of the body and the mind. The reversal of the standard evangelical vision is a lot more pregnant in this context. Note the restoring authorities have just reinstated nearly in its original place the thirteenth zodiac sign that used to be on the outside wall of the abbey church of Saint Austremoine’s Benedictine abbey in Issoire, France, along with the twelve others up to the end of the Middle Ages. It used to be at the joining point between the church itself and the Scriptorium and Library on the south side of the choir, showing thus it was the door, the link to knowledge and intelligence.
Jesus says to Judas: "You thirteenth spirit... You will become the thirteenth... Your star over the thirteenth aeon... The star that leads the way is your star..." This implies that the note 151 that speculates on the titular subscript used as the title of the book which reads “the gospel OF Judas” and not “the gospel ACCORDING TO Judas” might be right but then it implies it was not written by Judas at all but it was told first orally and then eventually written by someone else. The question is then: what were the motivations of this particular person: to report one side of the story that had been neglected or to promote a new vision of this apostle that had been accused of the worst crime, treason? It then reflects a debate in the nascent Christian community that must itself reflect a debate at the time of Jesus: the various and varied motivations of the followers, the motivations of Jesus himself in choosing his apostles, hence his direct representatives, the divisions and even tensions in the Jewish community in Jerusalem and around, not to speak of the tension with the Dead Sea community led by James, Jesus’ brother. And we are not considering those called the Arabs around the Jewish community who were servants and field workers, some of them serfs and probably slaves. The Romans stand apart of course since they are not originally from the Levant.
That leads me to the idea that the Christian community that was supposed to become the Catholic Church was not in the second century AD united and homogeneous and the role of Paul and his supporters after him should be studied in that perspective: an outsider proclaiming himself the Apostle of the gentiles, hence of the non-Jews though he was a Jew, a Roman citizen and an officer in the Roman Legion. His conflict with James is also to be revaluated seriously to show the defeat of what James represented. I also think it would be good to study this Gospel of Judas along with the Gospel according to Mary Magdalene, the other close associate of Jesus who is most of the time neglected or side-tracked since she is a woman with the fake debate about her possible marital relation with Jesus. The invention of the second James that is sent to Spain to die there is also another distortion that should be studied seriously since it side-tracks James himself with a doppelganger that moved away. It sounds like the clearing of Jesus heritage of three people who could represent something else, hence a challenge to the winning camp.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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