Friday, April 07, 2006

The Gospel of Judas: Another Gnostic Gospel, Part 2

Continuation of The Gospel of Judas: Another Gnostic Gospel, Part 1.
Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton University, said, "The people who loved, circulated and wrote down these gospels did not think they were heretics." Elaine Pagels' statement is a truism hardly worth mentioning. Of course, they did not think of themselves as heretics, for heretics never regard themselves as such. Nonetheless, the Gnostics were heretics and the Gospel of Judas is heretical. The heresy of the Gospel of Judas is not difficult to detect. Read the Gospel of Judas and discover its heretical teachings for yourself.

Characteristic of Gnostics, the Gospel of Judas not only tells a fundamentally different story about Jesus, it also tells a fundamentally different story about creation.

“Then Saklas said to his angels, ‘Let us create a human being after the likeness and after the image.’ They fashioned Adam and his wife Eve, who is called, in the cloud, Zoe. For by this name all the generations seek the man, and each of them calls the woman by these names. Now, Sakla did not [53] com[mand …] except […] the gene[rations …] this […]. And the [ruler] said to Adam, ‘You shall live long, with your children.’”

The Gnostic character of the Gospel of Judas is also evident with its concept of secret and mysterious knowledge, a theme that is central to Gnostic beliefs. In an alleged conversation with Judas, Jesus talks in Gnostic categories of "aeons" and an "eternal realm." The Gospel of Judas identifies Judas as the "thirteenth spirit," the one God appointed as the agent to release Jesus from the physical body that confined him.

The Gospel of Judas purports that Judas had a vision and that he asks Jesus to interpret it for him.

[Jesus] answered and said, “Judas, your star has led you astray.” He continued, “No person of mortal birth is worthy to enter the house you have seen, for that place is reserved for the holy. Neither the sun nor the moon will rule there, nor the day, but the holy will abide there always, in the eternal realm with the holy angels. Look, I have explained to you the mysteries of the kingdom [46] and I have taught you about the error of the stars; and […] send it […] on the twelve aeons.”

According to the Gospel of Judas, Judas comes off as the hero. How? Why? Because the Gnostics took great pride in their "secret knowledge" and believed in a strong dualism between the material and spiritual dimensions, they regarded the material realm to be a trap for the spiritual realm. Hence, they regarded the body to be the "prison house of the soul." Essentially, then, the Gnostics anticipated death as the way to escape the physical realm to enter the pure spiritual realm. Judas, then, comes off as the hero because he assisted Jesus to find release from the physical body that trapped his soul. The Gospel of Judas records the following exchange between Judas and Jesus.

Judas said to Jesus, “Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?”

Jesus said, “Truly I say [to you], this baptism [56] […] my name [—about nine lines
missing—] to me. Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas […] God [—three lines missing—] everything that is evil.

“But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."

To a Gnostic, Judas would be a friend to Jesus because he would actually assist Jesus by getting his soul released from the prison house of the soul through death. Judas, according to the Gospel of Judas, "will exceed all of them." Why? It is because Judas "will sacrifice the man that clothes" the true Jesus, the soul.

The Gospel of Judas slowly decomposed in the dust, hidden in Egypt for centuries until discovered in 1970. Now that it has been found, put back together as well as possible, translated, and disclosed to the public, is our knowledge of Jesus any richer? No, emphatically, no, though all who have become enamored with the Gnostic Jesus, popularized by Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, will revel in the news concerning the Gospel of Judas. Will another novel emerge, another movie? Do we now have further insights into the beliefs of the Gnostics? Yes. Regrettably, some may wander after the new Jesus of the old Gnostics. They will do so to their own ruin.

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