Friday, April 07, 2006

Gospel of Judas: Food for Thought

Hailed as the most important discovery concerning the origins of christianity in the last 60 years, the "Gospel of Judas" has seemed initially to make one surprising point. After two thousand years of unquestioned belief, the idea that Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples of Jesus, betrayed Jesus by identifying him to the authorities so they could arrest him and torture and execute him, has been turned upside down.

Now, according to this newly translated and seemingly authentic text, Jesus in fact is supposed to have chosen Judas to perform this act, not of betrayal, but of the greatest service to Jesus.

"You will be cursed by the other generations -- and you will come to rule over them," Jesus tells Judas in the text.

I'm no expert on christianity, but I am certainly interested when something happens during my lifetime that claims to change Judas from a cursed traitor into a "special" disciple who was in fact serving his teacher and the greater good.

This is nothing less than a complete "enantiodromia", where something suddenly has changed into its complete opposite.

Taken as a sign, we see a cursed and rejected evil being, one who gave up his special trust with Jesus supposedly for the money, suddenly now in 2006 raised from the depths of absolute despised outsider-ness to an honored position of sacrificial service to Jesus and his teachings, performing the single most key act in the story of Jesus and his fulfillment of his destiny (other than Mary's giving birth). And he is portrayed as having done this at Jesus's request, and with the knowledge that doing so would lead to his being ostracized and hated for eternity. (See his depiction in Mel Gibson's "Passion of Christ" for example)

Whether you are christian or not (and I am not except in spirit), this seems worthy of some reflection. What could it mean? What does it possibly say about our time right now?

What could Judas represent in us, that has been "cursed" but "will come to rule"?

What could it be in you and in me that has seemingly for all time only been worthy of denial, banishment, cursing, or rejection? And what is this in each of us that has now reached the moment when it can be revealed that this rejection and banishment was in fact a mistake, a misunderstanding because we did not have the whole picture (represented by Jesus's knowledge of his purpose and destiny, and the role required of Judas)?

What would it mean for you and for me if such a radical shift in perspective is now suddenly here upon us?

Isn't it worthy of our time, thought and discussion to wonder about this mysterious happening?

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