More on the Gospel of Judas

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Ben Witherington now has two more Judas posts. He discusses yesterday's NPR discussion of the Gospel of Judas, which I missed and now will have to try to listen to from their website when I get the chance. Several issues come up in the post. I think the two most notable points are his further discussion of whether this Coptic text had a Greek antecedent and his claim about the moral content of this work. He particularly frowns on its portrayal of Jews. I left a comment wondering what he meant. Is the Gospel of Judas is anti-semitic in a way that the canonical gospels are not? I doubt he accepts the claims of many scholars that the internal criticism of Jesus and his followers of their fellow Jews counts as anti-semitism. Is just a further development in the direction that isn't really anti-semitism but that scholars have pretended is anti-semitism, or is it really anti-semitic in a way that the canonical gospels aren't? I'd be reluctant to consider it anti-semitic simply because it says some things that Jews didn't agree with, but that's all he mentions. If it can be established that the motivation was hatred of Jews, then I could see it, but simply having a different cosmology from the Hebrew one doesn't seem to me in itself to be anti-semitic. I'm still awaiting his response on this.

Witherington also has a discussion of what the canonical gospels say about Judas. I'm a little more confident that Judas never repented than he is (I think the suicide is a pretty good sign that he didn't), but he doesn't think we have any reason to think Judas did repent. What he does think is clear is that Judas did wrong in betraying Jesus and that this was really just a continuation of his character all along.

Andreas Kostenberger also posts on this
. I don't think he's saying much that wasn't in any of the other various things I've linked to except one point that I partially disagree with. The Gospel of Judas is bad for several reasons, one of which is that viewpoint it expresses. Gnosticism treats the body as unimportant and thus devalues one aspect of how God created us. It's not really a gospel, because it's message isn't good news but in fact bad news. I agree. But he adds one further thing that makes me hesitate. He says the Gospel of Judas is morally dangerous because it promotes betrayal as good. I don't think it's exactly fair to say that the Gospel of Judas portrays betrayal as virtuous. What it does is say that Judas didn't betray Jesus but was carrying out his instructions. In effect, it exonerates someone who in reality was a traitor by saying something false about what he did. But it doesn't take the moral stance that betrayal is virtuous. I think the author would have agreed that Judas would have been doing wrong if he had betrayed Jesus. But the book doesn't portray Judas as having done that.


You have created an excellent set of posts in so much as they place the "Judas Gospel" into its proper context. It is a non-entity with regard to Christian doctrine or with regard to enlightening the faithful as to the actual gospel message.

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