The first translation of an ancient, self-proclaimed "Gospel of Judas" will be published in late April, bringing to light what some scholars believe are the writings of an early Christian sect suppressed for supporting Jesus Christ's infamous betrayer.If authentic, the manuscript could add to the understanding of Gnosticism, an unorthodox Christian theology denounced by the early church. The Roman Catholic Church is aware of the manuscript, which a Vatican historian calls "religious fantasy."
According to scholars who have seen photographs of the brittle manuscript, it argues that Judas Iscariot was carrying out God's will when he handed Christ over to his executioners. The manuscript could bring momentum to a broader academic movement that argues Judas has gotten a bum rap among both historians and theologians, as well as in popular culture.
I can’t find the source for the quote, but “there’s nothing so reprehensible that you can’t find an academic somewhere to support it.”The manuscript's owner says he has cut a deal with the National Geographic Society to release the English translation with a multimedia splash after Easter.
Thus maximizing the number of reporters looking for an Eastertime “religious” story to discount Christianity. This is the time of year when “search for the real Jesus” programs hit their peak on the cable channels.Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the Vatican's Committee for Historical Science, called it "a product of religious fantasy."
In an interview, he said the manuscript would not have any impact on church teaching.
Seeing as how the Church addressed all this the first time around, between 1500 and 1900 years ago, I’m not surprised they don’t think there’s an impact."We welcome the (manuscript) like we welcome the critical study of any text of ancient literature," Brandmuller said.
Assuming it's accurate, I expect that any Christian who is well versed in scripture will read this document profitably. We can get some insights into one of the primary Christian heresies that has never completely disappeared, and may even perhaps get some personal insights into our own walks with God. We just need to remember what it is that we're reading. As some dear friends who never call anymore (you know who you are) once pointed out, they gained spiritually from reading the gnostic Gospel of Thomas, but it's not scripture! Interesting and possibly useful where it harmonizes with the canon; to be read with lifted eyebrow where it conflicts.
He said that despite some reports to the contrary, the drive to improve Judas' reputation does not have the support of the Vatican
"There is no campaign, no movement for the rehabilitation of the traitor of Jesus," said Brandmuller.
It is a poor commentary on the intellectual capacity of the press that the monsignor would have to make that statement. Next year, I suppose we’ll get “rumors” in the New York Times that “a movement in the Vatican” thinks that Satan really isn’t such a bad guy after all.Brushed onto 31 pages of papyrus in Coptic, an Egyptian script, the manuscript has become tattered after spending centuries buried beneath the sands of middle Egypt and decades on the gray market.
According to Mario Roberty, a Swiss lawyer who currently owns the manuscript, the document, known as a "codex," has undergone restoration and translation by a team of researchers headed by the Swiss Coptic scholar Rodolphe Kasser.
"They've put each page under glass. It's incredibly brittle and in bad shape," Roberty said in a phone interview from Geneva.
Results of the research, Roberty said, will be released after Easter, when Christians around the world traditionally mark the official version of Christ's death as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Roberty would not discuss the contents of the codex and a National Geographic spokeswoman in Washington, Mary Jeanne Jacobsen, would not comment at all. But scholars independently following the project have already begun to anticipate some of its findings.
Ahhh….the gospels are the “official version,” and we all know how much the “officials” lie, don’t we?Working from photographs of the codex, Charles Hedrick, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Missouri State University, has translated six pages of the manuscript into English, including the codex's title "The Gospel of Judas." Roberty confirmed that Hedrick's photos were genuine reproductions of the codex.
Some of the manuscript's passages echo descriptions in the New Testament of Christ's arrest, recalling how Roman authorities aimed to "seize (Christ) in the act of prayer" and how Judas "took some money and he delivered (Christ) over to them," Hedrick said, quoting from his translation.
Although Judas cooperates in the arrest of Christ, Hedrick said, the codex does not depict him as a villain.
"Judas is not a bad guy in this text," Hedrick said in an interview. "He is the good guy and he is serving God."
Hedrick and other scholars say the codex was produced in the fourth or fifth century and reflects the theological traditions of a second-century sect of Gnostics, a community that believed true spirituality derived from a self-knowledge, or "gnosis." Figures depicted as sinful in the Old Testament, such as Cain and Esau, were typically extolled under Gnostic theology.
Old-time gnostics believed that true spirituality derived from knowledge, but that doesn’t translate to self-knowledge. The glorification of self-knowledge is more characteristic of the New Age neognosticism of a Shirley McClaine than of the second-century gnosticism of Valentinus.
Also, in my reading of the Old Testament, I don’t really see Esau portrayed as being particularly sinful as much as he’s portrayed as being a bit of a dumb jackass. His brother Jacob – the hero - comes across as a slimy little cheat and liar. God can use anybody to accomplish his purposes.As early as the year 178, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a heresy watchdog of the early church, targeted the community for declaring that "Judas the traitor...alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal."
“Heresy watchdog?” Is that sort of like “fundamentalist theocrat?” Good grief."They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas," Irenaeus wrote in "Against Heresies." Scholars say it's possible Irenaeus was reading an earlier version of the soon-to-be-published transcript, but that point is speculation.
William Klassen, author of "Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus?" considers the forthcoming manuscript an asset to ongoing scholarly efforts to rehabilitate Judas' historical image.
Many scholars believe Judas - whose name literally means "Jewish man" - was a victim of anti-Jewish slander that pervaded early Christianity in its struggle to break away from Judaism.
I always get a kick out of this claim that Judas was inserted into the gospels to breed “anti-Jewish” sentiment. Except for Pilate, his wife, and a few Samaritans and soldiers, everybody
in the gospels is Jewish! As for “Judas” meaning “Jewish man,” Judas was a popular name. The apostle Thaddeus is also known as “Judas, the brother of James,” or “Judas, not Iscariot.” The Epistle of Jude in the bible is attributed to, well, a dude named Judas. Seeing as how Judas Maccabeus (d. 160 B.C.) is one of the great heroes of Jewish history, I suspect a lot of people named their kids Judas the way we name kids “Austin” and “Travis.”"It's important to look at this Gospel of Judas very carefully, because this is evidence that in the late second century, in the time of Irenaeus, there was a group who held up the banner for Judas," Klassen said.
Big whoop. I can go on just about any college campus and find a group that will hold up the banner for Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. Finding support for evil is not the stuff of headlines.
Other scholars are withholding judgment until the manuscript has been publicly authenticated.
(Read the rest at BeliefNet