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4.07.2006    |    "Gospel of Judas:" Nothing new
So now some people are poised to make a bundle of money on a twist on the betrayal of Jesus to the Jewish and Roman powers-that-were. The "Gospel of Judas" has been verified as being sufficiently old (1,700 years) so as to possibly be considered an authentic gospel. Typical mainstream media stories may be found at the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

What makes this latest apocryphal gospel interesting is that it places Judas Iscariot in a more favorable light. Which would not be hard, since "Judas" has become synonymous with "traitor." However, in this latest find, instead of being portrayed as a completely evil man, there is the notion that Jesus requested Judas to betray Him in order to fulfill prophecy.

What a shock. The Man who was fully divine, and a co-equal Person in the Trinity, carrying out His Father's plan. There's no surprise in this, at least for me. This has always been my understanding of Judas: that he was a necessary part of salvation history. Somebody had to betray Jesus; somebody had to give the authorities a pretext to put Him to death. And when I write "had to", I mean precisely that: since this was God's plan, it had to be done.

One of the alleged consequences of Judas' betrayal of Jesus has been anti-Semitism. Well, the true Gospels, especially of John, mark "the Jews" as the betrayer of Jesus. Judas was merely one Jew, and even absent his role, the Sanhedrin of the day (basically the evil Herod's crew of select elders) could reasonably be blamed for wanting Jesus dead. He was, to coin a phrase, a thorn in their side.

So, it was "the Jews" who killed Christ? No. What killed Jesus were the worldly powers, who could not tolerate one who preached the kingdom of heaven. At the time and place chosen by God, first century Palestine, it was the Roman occupiers and the high priests of the Temple. Judas merely played out a role defined for him by God, under either the traditional version (e.g. Matthew 26:14-16), or, this new apocryphal gospel.

The question to be answered is, "does this new document change anything about our understanding that Jesus is the Messiah?" So far, it doesn't seem to.

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1 Comments:

Blogger goliah said...

Like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi discoveries, this latest 'gospel' increases the amount of new scriptural material only available this century, making the concept of 'canonical scriptures' and any claims of understanding founded upon them even less credible.

What might 'Christianity' look like if all these resources were available from the beginning? Check this link: www.energon.uklinux.net

11:39 AM, April 16, 2006  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.