Street but Sweet


Monday, April 10, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

What if the greatest story ever told were told from the villain's perspective?

Was intrigued by the National Geographic special about the Gospel of Judas. It was a two-hour show about how the 1,700-year-old codex was found (and sold and stolen and finally restored). For more on the show, check out the National Geographic website. You can also read a story about it in this New York Times link.

Just some interesting points that I got from the show:
  • It is illegal in Germany to name your child "Judas."
  • The portrayal of Judas may have indirectly contributed to anti-Semitism throughout the centuries.
  • Judas becomes increasingly evil from the earliest gospel (Mark) to the latest (John, where he is pretty much portrayed as Evil personified).
  • Judas is shown as a sort-of hero in the gospel of Judas. While the author/s of the gospel is/are unknown, it is likely that the origin of the text is the gnostics. The gnostics believed that the spirit is imprisoned by the body, and that death releases one's spirit. Thus, Jesus' death was seen as a good thing, and Judas' "betrayal" was crucial as it liberated Jesus from his "prison." The text also portrays Judas as the disciple closest to Jesus, in fact instructed by Jesus to sell his master out--so Judas was merely doing what he was told.
  • The text is more of a narrative, rather than an account of the historical Jesus or the historical Judas.
  • More than anything, the gospel of Judas shows that there wasn't a single unified form of Christianity in the first hundred years after Jesus' resurrection.
I've often wondered about God's plan, and how Judas' supposed betrayal fit into that. At the last supper, Jesus did say that one at the table would betray him--and Jesus, being the omniscient God, spoke of it as fact. So was Judas predestined to betray him? And if so, is he to burn in hell for something he was predestined to do? Of course there is the whole matter of free choice, and that he could have chosen not to betray Jesus. But then Jesus' revelation would not have been fulfilled.

The dork in me has so many questions and such a desire to understand, not completely (because I'm not conceited enough to think that's actually possible), but at least a little more. The rest I leave to faith.

For similar interesting shows, tune in to National Geographic's Secret Bible Week from April 30 to May 6.


  • At 8:51 AM , Blogger lei said...

    i sooo wanted to watch this but alas we don't have cable... oh the injustice... ;)


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