Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gospel of Judas; Part 3

According to the Gospel of Judas, when Jesus challenges his disciples to stand before him, only Judas rises to the challenge. Judas tells Jesus that he knows Jesus is really from the immortal aeon of Barbelo.

Barbelo is often referred to in 2nd to 4th century Gnostic literature. In the Apocryphon of John, for example (which was written about 100 years or more after the Gospel of Mark), Barbelo is the forethought of the great Monad, the invisible, virginal spirit who is over all (it will become clear later in my commentary, that this great Monad is absolutely not the Jewish God). With the “pure light” and “spark” from the invisible virginal spirit, Barbelo conceived and brought fourth an only-begotten child, Christ, the divine autogenes (or “self-generated,” another term found in the Gospel of Judas).

These three are called “The Father, the Mother, and the Son” in the Apocryphon of John and other Gnostic writings. As a side-note, I am personally convinced that it is from Gnostic groups calling themselves “Christian” that Muhammad, much later, came to think that Christians believed that God the Father had sex with God the Mother and produced God the Son. Muhammad rightly thought this idea was repulsive—but he was completely unaware of what true Christians really taught about the Trinity. I seem to recall Muhammad also referring to Allah as a “monad” in the Qur’an but I could be mistaken.

Anyway according to the Apocryphon of John, Christ requested that “it” (the Christ is referred to as “it”) asked for a fellow worker, and “mind” came forth. Then “word” appeared with “mind” and Christ, the divine Autogenes, created the world because of the word. After that numerous other aeons are created to attend Christ, Barbelo, and the virginal spirit. Some of these aeons include “will,” “thought,” life,” understanding,” “grace,” perception,” “prudence.” Then various “lights” were created, including Armozel, Oriel, Daveithai, Eleleth, etc. Then the divine Seth is placed over these lights. (Seth is also mentioned in the Gospel of Judas).

The point of this little essay on Barbelo is to show that while many of these Gnostic writings engage almost entirely in weird, heavenly, philosophical speculations about the origin and actions of a huge multitude of divine, and semi-divine beings, the biblical Gospels all talk about the earthly ministry of a human Jesus who, according to the biblical Gospels, had the extraordinary idea that he was the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies, not only about a coming Messiah, but about God visiting His people.

You may think that such an idea is insane, and you’re not alone. Most of Jesus’ own countrymen thought he was a blasphemer, insane, or even demon possessed Hmm, why would this be if Jesus was just thought of as a good teacher or a Jewish Cynic?. Anyway, those of Jesus’ followers who believed in Jesus apparently did so for several reasons. Some of those reasons are 1) because they were genuinely convinced that he really had fulfilled Jewish prophecies, 2) they were convinced that his miracles were genuine and far beyond what the magicians of his day or even the prophets of old had ever done before (as far as we know, no one denied that Jesus did miracles. His opponents just said he did them by the power of the Devil or that he was a great magician), and 3) because they were absolutely convinced that Jesus really had bodily risen from the dead--even the world-renowned Jewish scholar, E.P Sanders, and the secular scholar, Bart Ehrman (who was involved in the Gospel of Judas documentary) concede that it is historical fact that the disciples of Jesus were convinced that Jesus really had risen from the dead, though both of them would say that dead people simply don’t come back to life—ever.

Regardless of which side you come down on, it is clear that the biblical Gospels swim in an entirely different worldview ocean than most of these Gnostic gospels, including the Gospel of Judas.