:: Monday, April 10, 2006 ::
The Lost Gospel of Judas
Update: Michele posted a nice summary and analysis on her site. It's definitely worth a read. As I mention at the bottom of this post, I recommend you also read Ben Withernigton's posts on the topic -- part 1 and part 2.

I tuned in to the last hour of the National Geographic channel's program about The Lost Gospel of Judas last night, and while I found it interesting, the producers seemed to try too, too hard to keep the shroud of mystery on this topic. As a result, they stretched a one-hour documentary into two hours.

The big secret they exposed was that this 1,700-year-old document, a codex discovered in an Egyptian cave in 1978 and written in the old language of Coptic, revealed that, according to the author, Jesus let Judas in on the plan and let him know that by betraying Jesus, Judas would receive a special blessing.

The Judas document also provides a different account of the Last Supper, one in which Jesus drops in on a meal (presumably the Passover) and starts laughing, and chides the disciples for worshipping the God who created the earth. Apparently according to early Christian gnostic teachings (about which I'm not very well versed), the God of creation is a lesser god, and not the one true God that Jesus came to reveal. Jesus then challenges the disciples with a question about being brave enough to seek "real" spiritual truth (I'm paraphrasing here, don't remember the exact words), and only Judas stands and accepts the challenge. Jesus then takes Judas aside, and Judas tells Jesus of a dream he had, in which all the disciples are stoning him. Jesus explains that because of his special assignment -- betrayal -- he will be "the one all the disciples will curse."

The documentary notes that the gospel of Judas ends abruptly, after the betrayal in Gethsemane, with no reference to the crucifixion or resurrection. The documentary surmises from this that it is because in gnosticism, bodily resurrection is irrelevant. It is the life of the spirit that matters.

But I think there's an explanation the producers overlooked. If Judas killed himself after the betrayal, then he wasn't around to witness the crucifixion or resurrection. How could he have written about it?

There's also a reference in the Gospel of Judas that Jesus would sometimes appear as a child, and the documentary showed a child serving the disciples, making it appear as thought this reference was to be taken literally, that Jesus somehow took on another form during his ministry with the disciples.

If you want a more insightful view of what this all means, from the perspective of a theologian, then I recommend you read Ben Withernigton's posts on the topic -- part 1 and part 2.

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:: Andrew 07:32 + ::

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