GOSPEL OF JUDAS?
A new manuscript discovery has many people very excited. It is being called the Gospel of Judas because it claims that Judas was a disciple closest to Jesus, and that he was following Jesusí orders when he aided the capture of Jesus by Edomite Jews. Of course, such a radical notion sends shock waves across the Christian world as it is shouted on National News. I have not read it yet. But, could this notion actually be true? I think NOT. There are too many arguments against it. Letís look at both sides of the argument, the pros and the cons.
PRO: JUDAS THE FRIEND
In support of this thesis is the fact that Jesus went out of His way to antagonize the Temple Jews into persecuting Him. Once He even went to their Temple and confronted some of the Edomite Jews who believed in Him (Jn 8:31), telling them that even though they are descendants from Abraam, God is not their Father, but they are from the devil. (John 8:37-47) [Sidenote explanation: the Edomites had taken over Jerusalem, Judea, and the Temple priesthood before Jesus was born. The Edomite race (resident JEWS of Judea), from Esau, is the eternal enemy of Christ from the very beginning, even from the birth of Cain which Jesus references in His statement.]
Since Jesus knew that His mission was to die as payment for the breach of that contract which Israelites had with their Sinai covenant, it is understandable that He would provoke them into doing what was necessary. Furthermore, it seems that Jesus intentionally picked Judas for that very purpose. All the other disciples were from Jesusí home area of Galilee, but Judas was likely from the town of Kerioth which was in southern Judea where Edomites were the majority. That Judas was an Edomite is not known for certain, but his profile sure fits that race of Jews whose instincts compel them toward money, lies, and murder. He was the treasurer for the small group of disciples, and John 12:6 says Judas was a thief: "He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it." Also, John 6:70 indicates that long before the betrayal, Jesus said, "Did I not choose you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" Again, this statement alludes to the idea that Judas was an Edomite, a child of Satan, and it makes clear that Jesus was working His plan deliberately. And, in so doing, Jesus might very well elicit Judas participation in the plan.
Nikos Kazanatsakis, in his book, The Last Temptation of Christ, plays with the notion that Judas was perhaps following Jesus directions, and even agonizes about it in a conversation with Jesus. So, itís not a new idea, even in our day, and we see in this new manuscript it was not a new idea those many centuries ago, either. In light of the above, it would be easy to believe that Judas was acting in obedience to his close friend.
CON: JUDAS THE BETRAYER
But, to accept the new find as valid, what do we do with the following arguments?
(1) Certainly Judas didnít write it; he was dead soon after the crucifixion.
(2) Judas hanged himself. Had he understood the necessity of what he did, would he not look to God for favorable reward because he had done such a difficult act? Judasí remorse belies the notion that he was doing Jesusí will.
(3) The other N.T. writers sure donít view Judasí betrayal as something which Jesus had requested. They would have sympathized with Judas if they knew Jesus had ordered it. But, the N.T. makes clear that they didnít think of Judas in any other way than as the betrayer of their Lord.
(4) To imagine that Jesus ordered the betrayal secretly, and kept His closest disciples ignorant of it is highly unlikely. He tried to prepare them for His death ahead of time, and His plan would hardly be kept secret.
(5) Psalm 69 is a psalm of David which predicts Jesusí rejection by men, the drinking of gall and vinegar, and the persecution and grief. For those who did this to Jesus, and that could not exclude the betrayer himself, verse 28 reads, "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living..." hardly something that Jesus would appoint for a close friend whom He elected to perform a difficult task.
(6) In Jesus' High Prayer, in John 17, He says that He guarded and kept all who were given to Him and none was lost except one. No one questions that He is referring to Judas in these words, "and none of them perished except the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled." That doesn't sound like praise for a job well done.
(7) Just because the new manuscript is from about 300AD, that does not mean its writer was privy to any facts other than the writings already popular which make up our New Testament. There were MANY spurious writings and propaganda pieces produced during those early years. One story has Jesus SELLING a disciple to some traders who took him to India! Another has Jesus leaping over buildings. Most Christians are not aware of the intense controversies and battles being waged between the Edomite Jews and the new Christian movement. MUCH literature was being produced, on both sides, in that battle. Those people were just as imaginative as any today, and it is very possible that someone developed this radical idea. The Edomite Jews were a huge community in Rome and had great influence with Roman leaders, as they had from the time that Rome appointed their own Herod to rule Judea in 147BC. It was the Edomite Jews who battled against the Christians and promoted their crucifixions around Rome and the Coliseum entertainments. Emperor Nero married a Jewess, named Poppaea, who hated the Christians. This new manuscript dates from long after Nero, so its value for Truth has no support at all.
(8) Today we are in the end-time period when Satanís lordship over the Kingdom of World will come to an end with a cataclysmic geophysical event which Jesus described in Matthew 24. We are witnessing Satanís final desperation. His vermin are crawling out from under the rocks to attack the divinity of Jesus and the Truth of the Bible. A few years ago, two men published a work titled Holy Blood, Holy Grail, in which they proposed that Jesus married Mary Magdalen and ran off to Spain where they had a family. Their fiction included a secret society that exists today, called the Priory of Sion, which consists of descendants from Jesus and Mary. Then, Dan Brown wrote a book based on that same premise, titled The DaVinci Code. They have made millions from attacking Jesusí divinity. Another recent book, title unknown to me, claims Jesus did not walk on water, but on ice. The National News media give such works headline notice because they attack Jesus. And there is a large audience out there who clap their hands gleefully to see any assault against Christianity. Men who do so can get rich. So, it is no surprise that the new manuscript, The Gospel of Judas, should receive wide acclaim in mainstream news. The truth is that it is but one of hundreds of spurious manuscripts that have long been known. They are called pseudepigrapha, which means false writings. They are legion! This new find can be added to the same heap of rubbish.
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