Friday, April 07, 2006

St. Judas?

Yesterday’s New York Times had an article about a newly rediscovered gospel – the Gospel of Judas.

What I find most interesting about this discovery is not that it has spent years sitting lost in a safety deposit box in (no joke) Hicksville, NY. Nor am I particularly interested in the debate over its authenticity (scientists assert that it’s authentic, or at least that it’s authentically old). No, what I find interesting about all of this is the picture this Gospel paints of Christianity’s very own Brutus. According to this Gospel, Judas’s was not the faithless follower we all accepted him to be—the veritable villain of the New Testament—but rather the most loyal of all the disciples. So loyal, in fact, that the Lord himself entrusted Judas with the excruciating responsibility of turning him over to the Romans to be crucified. In short, what the Gospel of Judas asserts is that because Christ’s death was essential to God’s plan, so, too, was Judas’s betrayal.

So here’s the question: do you think it’s possible that Judas has just gotten a bad rap all these years? Our faith is surely one of the few with the flexibility to accept something like this. Unlike most Christian sects, we see Eve’s decision as a necessary choice, one essential to God’s plan. It was not a sin, but a transgression. Could Judas’s role in the atonement be similar to that of Eve’s role in the Fall?

I have to admit, I’m thrilled by the idea.


At 4/07/2006 06:28:00 PM,

I suppose it could turn out that Judas role in the atonement was similar to Eve's role in the Fall, but statements by modern prophets would indicate that this is not the case. Unless the manuscript could be proven to be older than they are saying (200-400a.d.), I have to doubt its veracity.

An article  I read today (see last 7 paragraphs) intimates that the doc is not written by Judas. In mulling this over I dug up a quote I like from Thomas Jefferson about the bible: "The whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills." 

Posted by cantinflas

At 4/08/2006 08:00:00 AM,

I agree that modern revelation has told us something about the nature of Judas, there might be the possiblity that his role was a necesesary evil in the plan of our Heavenly Father's.

President Kimball gave a talk about Peter where he stated that Peter was perhaps not the faithless turncoat we think him to be. Perhaps when Jesus told Peter that he, Peter would deny Christ three times it was more of an imperative than a prophecy. Maybe Christ told Peter to deny him so that Peter would be around to lead the Church???

However, Judas' committing suicide in the field seems to indicate that he that he either felt REALLY REALLY bad about fulfilling part of God's plan, or else he did it out of his own greed.

At 4/09/2006 08:58:00 AM,

It's funny, this article drew a lot of attention in the blogosphere (especially amongst Mormons). There are dozens of posts on this topic.

Perhaps we are accustomed to our apostles, and can't imagine one of them betraying Christ, with the knowledge that they have; and we can't understand how/why Judas did it? the greed doesnt explain it, because he "sold out" Christ for a pretty low amount.

At 4/09/2006 06:39:00 PM,

Just a quick response (question really) to Cat's message. Is it common in today's society (particularly the LDS society) to view Peter as a "faithless turncoat"? Just wondering what the common conception is.

At 4/09/2006 07:38:00 PM,


Generally, I have only heard Judas discussed in the context of "how damned is he, anyway? did he do something bad enough to become a son of perdition, or is he exempted because the Holy Ghost wasnt available?"

So I think generally, the jury has convicted Judas, and conveniently, he hung himself

At 4/09/2006 07:44:00 PM,

At 4/11/2006 12:18:00 PM,


Before jumping to answer - Reread the question. My question was in regards to Peter, NOT Judas.
I think you are right in terms of the Judas debate - one that I think is even more obvious. However, my question was in regards to Cat's (or President Kimball's) description of PETER as a "not the faithless turncoat."

I questioned this because I saw the very disanalogy which your comment makes clear -- that Peter should not be viewed in those terms (and my assumption, though perhaps false, is that he isn't in fact seen in that light by the general LDS community) -- at least in comparison to how the world normally views Judas.

At 4/11/2006 12:37:00 PM,


I don't think that most of the LDS community views Peter as a "faithless turncoat". I DO, however, believe that most of the LDS community thinks that Peter's three time denial of Christ was a betrayal--and maybe even a sin. But I like to look at it differently. I think it is a very real possibility that Christ was commanding, rather than predicting, that Peter deny him when he said to Peter, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." If read with "will" emphasized ("Before the cock crows, you WILL deny me three times") it sounds an awful lot like a commandment to me. Plus, it's not like Peter was generally an embarassed supporter of Christ. When the soldiers came to get Christ in garden of Gethsamane, Peter cut one of their ears off! It's odd to think he'd be willing to put himself at great personal risk in that situation and then, just a few hours later, be afraid to admit even knowing Christ. 

Posted by Janelle




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