Judas gospels

This is pretty neat; new gospels about Judas have been found and translated, and they basically say that Judas was one of Jesus’ favorite apostles and enabled salvation.


Some of the scholars on National Geographic’s advisory committee said the text should prompt a reassessment of Judas. In it, Jesus speaks privately to Judas, telling him he will share with Judas alone “the mysteries of the kingdom.” Jesus asks Judas to turn him over to the Roman authorities so that his body can be sacrificed.

This is an amazing find. Some of the passages they mention actually touch on something that has always confused me about the traditional Christian perspective. Why was Judas condemned when his actions were what precipitated the most important event in human history? I mean, if Jesus’ death and resurrection saved humanity from torment and death…isn’t that good? Isn’t Judas technically a hero for being the only one with the guts to set that in motion? Clearly Jesus knows what he’s up to in several Gospel accounts. So what’s the deal? Why kill the messenger?

It’s just like all that “The Jews killed Jesus” bullshit. If they (or the Romans, or whoever the hell you want to “blame”) didn’t kill Jesus, you wouldn’t have much of a religion, now would you?

Anyway, I hope a full translation of the Judas stuff is released in short order.

So the ends justify the means?

I think all it shows is that what survived to emerge post-3rd or 4th century (before the first ecumenical council) as Christianity was from a varied written and oral traditional without any form of definitive canon. What survived to grow to the established doctrines and writings today was certainly not all that had been written or believed by everyone before.

Doesn’t it kind of go against this though?

[I]And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.[/I] (Matthew 26:21-2)

Why would Jesus ask Judas to do it, while at the same time it would be better if the person doing it was never born?

Jesus gets ressurected, the rest of us get saved, and Judas gets condemned for making it all happen. So who’s the one who really paid for our sins in this scenario? The guy who gets the do-over, or the one who actually ended up stuck with the check?

Why would Jesus ask Judas to do it, while at the same time it would be better if the person doing it was never born?

Because Judas was the Scapegoat of God.

Ordinarily no, but if Jesus knew and wanted it to happen, this kind of changes things.

Well, if Jesus wants Judas to “betray” him, then he’s not being betrayed, is he? Clearly that passage refers to someone else, as the bible is, of course, correct.

Alternatively, when Matthew wrote that he had no way of knowing the real deal.

Edit: To clarify the part of this that I originally just left implied, eyewitness accounts are always colored by their perspective. Sure, Matthew quotes Jesus as condemning Judas, but there are a lot of instances where the Gospels don’t match up even on direct quotes. The Gospels were written at a very interesting time in the apostles’ lives, in a Fight Club sense of the phrase. They all sought to add color, detail, and precision to their memories of what were – for them – very calamitous events. Perhaps these phrases about Judas being damned were actually kicked around shortly after it all went down, with Matthew and (for example) Luke hiding out in a safe house somewhere in Jerusalem, with their AK-74s in their nervous, sweaty hands, occasionally peeking through the drawn venetian blinds to see if soldiers were coming down the street to break in and arrest them, shaking their heads in shock and saying, “I don’t believe it; this is terrible,” over and over again. “Man, FUCK Judas. I mean, seriously, when God finds out about this shit, he is FUCKED.” “Yeah. What a little bitch.” And then later, when they get their heads together a bit and decide that the world has to know what really happened, some of those ideas find their way into the finished product. Kinda how the human mind works.

The christianity we have today is the one whose opinions survived the early political infighting. Unicorn’s summary is funnier, though.

Goes without saying. Look at Islam for another excellent example of that kind of issue still lacking a decisive answer (Sunnis/Shiites).

Unicorn’s summary is funnier, though.

For once, I was going for serious. The Christian mythos may be pretty intense, but it’s not so alien that similar things don’t happen all the time unheralded. The whole situation with the disciples and the execution and the conflicting accounts could have taken place at any time during human history thus far, including the present. All you need is an underclass, and whether the weapons under their cloaks are daggers or firearms doesn’t really matter in the long run.

So Jesus basically committed suicide?

I was under the impression that the new testament doesn’t contain all the gospels/accounts concerning the life of Jesus anyway (Gnostic Gospels for example) merely the ones approved by “the Church” several hundred years ago as their official dogma.

From what I’ve read, this “gospel” is a hundred years older than the original four gospels. So, I’m not quite sure what the hubbub is about. It’s neat to find anything this old, but it’s just an old Gnostic text, not some scandalous revelation that sheds trustworthy light on Biblical events.

From what I’ve read, this “gospel” is a hundred years older than the original four gospels. So, I’m not quite sure what the hubbub is about. It’s neat to find anything this old, but it’s just an old Gnostic text, not some scandalous revelation that sheds trustworthy light on Biblical events.

The copy itself is thought to date from around 300ad according to some of the reports, but that is also thought to be a copy of an older Greek text. Either way they don’t seem to be able to date it much closer than around 100 years after Judas died.

IANABS (I Am Not A Biblical Scholar), but Nellie’s right. In fact, as I recall, one book even got disincluded (or perhaps just edited) because the Church officials involved felt that “Christ taught Lazarus his secrets” was too close to “Christ and Lazarus had sex in the butt.” To the pure, all things are pure…

Crispus, the Bible and the Apocrypha are both fun reads all around, but trustworthy does not describe any of them. They tend to have limited value as historical documents, especially since the early Christians were a bunch of unstable lotus-eaters with a collective hardon for Stone Age politics. Glad that’s over with, eh?

Edit: I was referring to Nellie’s earlier post about the Church compiling the books of the Bible, not the newer post just above this one.

At the risk of sounding like a (probably just as badly written) paragraph from the Da Vinci code, it appears there are at least 30 unofficial gospels relating to the life of Jesus. Many of which if not authored directly by, were championed by early Christian sects such as the gnostics. In a prime example of the victors write history, the leading sect of early christianity (which I presume became Catholocism) which managed to excert most influence championed it’s own gospels and hid away or declared heretical those that didn’t fit it’s own version of events or were favoured by other franchises.

This doesn’t take into account that Mark - the most human and least divine of the Gospels - makes the cut. Mark is the earliest of the Gospels, likely written in the 1st century, but also the one that makes the fewest claims about Jesus as a deity or even son of deity.

The four canonical Gospels, in fact, are kept together as a group in fragments dating from the mid-2nd century (150-180ish) - well before Christianity was a state religion with serious power plays. The big debates over the canon in the early church dealt with whether and which Pauline epistles were canon, not whether Gnostic ramblings were reliable or not. Iraeneus uses the recognized orthodoxy of Luke to justify inclusion of the Acts of the Apostles.

New “gospels” were being written constantly in the 2nd and 3rd century. One of them has a child Jesus turning his playmates to stone - an attempt to bring more of the usual pagan mythos into his life, I guess. Judas is just one more and only really interesting because of the name attached to it. A Gospel of Dorcas wouldn’t have gotten this kind of coverage.


Note that none of the Apostles actually wrote the Gospel that has his name on it (it was the habit for religous writers at the time to write in the name of others; go figure). From near as I can tell from browsing around, most scholars seem to agree that the earliest Gospel was written at least 40 years after the Crucifixtion and the latest as much as 150 years after, though there is a lot of mud wrestling and knife-poking among those same scholars as they jockey for position.

So even if the Judas gospel was copied from earlier work, it is unlikely to have been penned by Judas himself. Not that it isn’t fascinating as hell.