Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gospel of Judas; Part 4

According to the Gospel of Judas, Jesus takes Judas away from the rest of the disciples to tell him the secret mysteries. Jesus tells Judas that someone will replace him so the disciples can “come to completion with their god”

Note the recurring themes of “secret mysteries” and “their god.” The god of Jesus in the Gospel of Judas is not the Jewish God of the disciples or the Christian church.

The Gospel of Judas seems to contain several allusions to the New Testament. The reference to replacing Judas is apparently an allusion to the replacement of Judas recorded in the Book of Acts. Just a few lines later the Gospel of Judas makes reference to “generations of stars,” and “trees without fruit and “in shameful manner." Wandering stars, fruitless trees and shame are all concepts mentioned in the very short letter of Jude 12-13. Later in the text, the Gospel of Judas makes reference to Jesus’ parable of the sower from the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Judas also contains an allusion to First Corinthians 2:9. Matthew, Acts, First Corinthians and Jude are all, of course, in the New Testament.

Like so many Gnostic texts, the Gospel of Judas borrows ideas from the emerging core of the New Testament—The Gospels and Paul’s letters were recognized as sacred from as early as the late first century. The Christian leader, Irenaeus (AD 180) was so exasperated with these Gnostic groups—not because they rejected the New Testament, but because they pulled New Testament words and phrases out of context and twisted them to say things they couldn’t possibly have meant in their original contexts! This is exactly what we find in many of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts.

According to the Gospel of Judas, Jesus tells his disciples that they are the twelve priests in their dream and that the cattle they sacrifice are the men they lead astray. Jesus says others will come after them who kill children, sleep with men, and assure people that God has received their sacrifice from the priest.

The reference to sacrifices of priests is possibly a reference to the second century Christian priests and to the Eucharist. The derogatory reference to sleeping with men may possibly be an attack against the increasing avoidance of marriage by Christian priests. According to the Gospel of Judas, the bad guys in this story are the disciples of Jesus, and those who followed after them (i.e. church leaders). In fact, just a few lines later Judas reports a dream in which the disciples of Jesus were stoning and persecuting him. This is important. The Gospel of Judas portrays those who follow the teachings of Jesus as handed down through Jesus’ disciples, as the bad guys! Only Judas supposedly has the secret knowledge! To imagine that this comes from a Christian group (just because it talks about Jesus, Judas and the disciples) is absurd—ahh, but wait until Monday! That’s when the real absurdity begins!