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Tony Grist

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The Gospel of Judas [Apr. 8th, 2006|09:56 am]
Tony Grist
Without the crucifixion there'd be no salvation and without the betrayal in the garden there'd be no crucifixion: so why is Judas seen as the villain of the piece? I thought this was a modern idea, but the newly discovered Gospel of Judas (a gnostic text from c. A.D. 300) has Jesus telling Judas to betray him.

The gnostics treated theology as an art form. They were happily irresponsible. They invented, speculated, played games.

Then the Church clamped down and it has taken us something like 1500 years to get those freedoms back.

Read more here
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sorenr
2006-04-08 02:44 am (UTC)
It's funny how Jesus asks god to forgive his crucifiers "for they know not what they're doing", and yet the church has never forgiven Judas. Surely the Judaic kiss is as pardonable a sin as any, and judas himself a pardonable sinner, even when you just take the "regular" gospels. To me, the new gospel doesn't change a thing, really; whether Judas was instructed or not, he remains a central figure and to some extent ought to be the prime example of somebody who trespasses and is forgiven.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2006-04-08 02:45 am (UTC)
(If Judas can not be redeemed, then Christianity as a whole looses it's existential point of salvation, redemption and forgiveness...)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 05:55 am (UTC)
There's a pleasing medieval legend that Judas is allowed out of hell once a year. I forget why.

Yes. if God witholds forgiveness from Judas on the grounds that "it's personal" then he's nothing but a whimsical, old tyrant.
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[User Picture]From: thewayupward
2006-04-08 06:30 am (UTC)
That's the legend of St. Brendan, that he's allowed out of hell every year on Candlemas, to ease his torment on sea.

And yeah! word to everything you said. I am celebrating all this Gospel of Judas kerfuffle by watching Jesus Christ Superstar, or, as Andrew Rilstone says, the apocryphal gospel of Andrew and Timothy. (yay!)
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[User Picture]From: thewayupward
2006-04-08 08:42 am (UTC)
!! PS. full text here. It is totally weird so far: Jesus is apparently from 'the immortal realm of Barbarelo' - !!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 09:21 am (UTC)
The full text? This I've got to see!

Barbarelo?
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[User Picture]From: thewayupward
2006-04-08 07:32 pm (UTC)
No kidding! Plus, Eve's real name ('in the clouds') is 'Zoe'. HILARITY ENSUES

Re Barbarelo: ... your guess is as good as mine.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 09:19 am (UTC)
Ah yes, St Brendan...

I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
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[User Picture]From: angevin2
2006-04-11 10:00 am (UTC)
Well, for the record, the Church to my knowledge (it's been pointed out to me several times over the course of my religious education) has never officially declared anybody to be in hell, even Judas -- Dante of course has him getting gnawed on by Satan along with Brutus and Cassius, but Dante, wonderful as he is, is no theologian. So who knows?
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2006-04-11 10:35 am (UTC)
I believe the notion of Hell featured quite heavily in mid-Medieval theology, actually, so Dante was certainly leaning on an established theology when he wrote La Commedia. But yes, I think even the theologians who believed there to be a Hell never actually poured out judgments about who had gone where. (Then, of course, the notion of Purgatory was invented - i can't remember when this became standard - and the church suddenly seemed to know a lot about the people there and how one might pay to get one's arse quickly out of there. Different matter entirely, of course, but worth a mention.)

Still; I study comparative literature and not theology, so i'm quite happy to accept Dante's version of the three death realms. Especially the Inferno. (Paradiso is just long-winded and boring... Yada-yada... Beatrice... Yada-yada... Virgin Mary... Yada-yada... Holy Trinity... Gimme Francesca da Rimini, Inferno canto V, any day!)
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[User Picture]From: frumiousb
2006-04-08 04:22 am (UTC)
Judas is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. One of the most interesting, for the reasons noted here. I tried once to write a long poem about him, and ended up with a very flawed medium length thing. Frustrating to get a grip on.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 05:58 am (UTC)
Dramatically speaking, he's just about the most interesting character in the story. We don't know his motives and so feel compelled to supply them.

Why do you think he did it?
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From: bodhibird
2006-04-08 06:34 am (UTC)

Jumping in...

I have often thought that Judas simply wanted to force Jesus' hand. He thought that by backing Jesus into a corner, he would force him to show his power, to make a political or overtly supernatural move, to kick ass, and then they would Get Things Done. The poor guy had no idea that he was playing into Jesus' plan to Get Things Done by a very different method. He was smart, and loyal--he just didn't understand.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 09:24 am (UTC)

Re: Jumping in...

The canonical Gospels imply that Jesus knewwhat was going on.

The explanation that Judas was just money-mad doesn't really hold water. Why would Jesus have chosen someone like that?
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2006-04-11 10:42 am (UTC)

Why did he do it?

I'm tempted to see Judas as the most humane of the disciples, really, so I like to think he did it because he was human and, by consequence, flawed by human weakness. Jesus, too, was human - that was the point of him being on earth, no? - and by saying so, one would assume that he also had certain human weaknesses, and it's easy to imagine how such a goody-two-shoes could seem, perhaps, slightly proud and self-centred. It was always me-me-me with Jesus. Who wouldn't be annoyed with him and somehow wish to take him down a peg? (Or up a peg, as it might be on a cross...)

I somehow see it as two of the seven sins, pride and envy, coupled up in a grand narrative.


Also, I firmly believe that most saints must've been rather annoying in many ways. Imagine being the sibling of Joan of Arch: "I was chosen by God to save France" "-There goes Joan with her rampant megalomania again... Won't somebody slap her?"
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2006-04-08 07:39 am (UTC)
Actually, the Judas question was one of the many things that made me slowly lose faith in Christianity. The normal construction of the story and the eternal fate of Judas seems to imply the instrumentality of evil to God and therefore, the end of omnibenevolence.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 09:28 am (UTC)
Orthodox theology is held together by string and sticky-tape.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2006-04-08 08:40 am (UTC)
This is why i never understood the demonisation of the Jews, after all were they not fulfilling destiny?
And surely Judas is God's business not man's.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-08 09:26 am (UTC)
Fulfilling destiny- as were Pilate, Herod and all the rest.

I played Herod in a passion play once. It was huge fun.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2006-04-09 04:35 pm (UTC)
I would have so enjoyed watching you play Herod!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-10 03:14 am (UTC)
I was very, very over the top.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2006-04-10 04:14 am (UTC)
I was very, very over the top.

:) I knew it! Wonderful!

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2006-04-09 04:34 pm (UTC)
If I'm not mistaken, the 1970s TV mini-series, Jesus of Nazareth, portrayed Judas as a sympathetic character who was (on his on, without Jesus's instruction) determined to give Jesus a place in history.

That aside, I wonder what Jesus's motivation might have been, to have Judas betray him on purpose? Was he wanting to fulfill the prophecy? Interesting--people are so shocked at the revelation that I haven't yet heard any sensible discussion about motives.

And I also understand that there is no mention of Jesus's resurrection in the G of Judas.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-10 03:25 am (UTC)
Films about the Life of Christ always have problems animating the central character. What is it that drives him? What does it feel like to be the Son of God? As soon as you start attributing recognisable human motives to him people stand up and shout "blasphemy!"

My favourite passion play is Son Of Man, a 1960s TV dramatization by Dennis Potter- which characterizes Jesus as a working class rebel.

No resurrection in the G of J? From what little I've read I suspect the writers of the book may have seen the Incarnation as a charade. Jesus was a Divine Personage pretending to be human. There's no resurrection because the mortal body of Jesus was a disguise he was only too happy to cast aside.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2006-04-10 04:13 am (UTC)
No resurrection in the G of J? From what little I've read I suspect the writers of the book may have seen the Incarnation as a charade.

Where were you able to read about the G of Judas? I would like to read it, too. I can't get the National Geographic Channel on my cable--it's for the highest-paying customers.
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