Friday, May 05, 2006

Gospel of Judas

This has been in the news recently, and while I have had an opportunity to read it, I've really only skimmed it. However, it seems to my semi-scholarly opinion that it does fit into a "Gnostic" worldview. It should be noted, however, that Gnostic is very difficult to define. It's rather anti-dogmatic nature means that one could include just about anything. But a few things jump out at me in this Gospel of Judas.:

1. When he [approached] his disciples, gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed.

A laughing Jesus is often seen in the Nag Hammadi texts. Especially one laughing at the ignorance of his followers believing in empty ritual. He's pointing out here that ritual is only effective/beneficial when it is done from the heart, not merely from rote behavior.

2. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo.

Barbelo is a fairly dead give-away. Even Irenaeus mentions Barbelo in connection with the Gnostics.

3. Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him, “Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom."

In the Gospel of Mary Mary Magdalene reveals to the disciples the teachings Jesus gave to her in private. (of course most don't believe her, since she's "just" a woman.) We also see her having a greater understanding than the other disciples. Many scholars, and other people alike, have speculated that these texts represent an early power struggle in the Church, where some people accepted Mary as a source of authority and learning, and others, the 'orthodox' view point which ultimately won out, did not. My opinion is that the Gospel of Judas belonged to a group which saw Judas as another source of authority, since he too received special, secretreadGnosticc) teachings from Jesus.

4. and corruptible Sophia

DING! Again, a pretty dead give-away. And corruptible Sophia is important. Sophia, in most Gnostic myths is responsible, through her desire to know and emulate the Monad, for bringing about the demiurge, the creator of the physical world. Her actions sometimes lead to her being cast out of the Pleroma, and wandering the world, being used, sexually, by the archons and other powers. Other times she has some of her power stolen by her 'son',whichis trappeddwithinn humanity. Either way, Sophia in a text of this time (say 2nd-4th century) generally indicates a Gnostic text of some kind.

5. Self-Generated

The divine parent, or Godhead, goes by many names and attributes. It is called Bythos (abyss), the Monad, The One, and (you guessed it) the Self-Generated. It is difficult to explain this 'being', since 'it' is so far outside human comprehension that we can only speak metaphorically and in incomplete images. Some times it is called Father. But Self-Generated works too!

6.Adamas and the Luminaries

Adamas is the first Human, but not inphysicallyl sense. "He" is the spiritual human, and we are reflections of "his" form. (I put he and his in quotation marks because I think the intention behind the male pronouns in the text were meant to include everyone, not just he's). This is influenced by Plato who spoke of forms, in the heaven. These forms where pure and absolute, what we saw here on earth, however, were mere reflections of these forms. Shadows on a cave wall type thing. A selection of Plato was found at Nag Hammadi, oddly not the section talking about forms. But still, the influence of Platonic though on Gnosticism, and other things, is well documented.

7. Yaldaboath and Saklas

Again, fairly common names for the demiurge, or one of his powers. These names, especially Yaldaboath (or similar names, are almost cornerstones for Gnostic texts.

So, it seems to me fairly obvious that this is a Gnostic text, the only thing left to do would be to try and determine which group it came from/was used by. The Sethians jump to mind. They, according to Irenaeus, revered Barbelo as a divine figure. They were Christian Gnostics with strong Platonic influence, from them we get the Adamas ideal. But of course we should be careful, since we get these classifications come from the people who were against the Gnostics. It is possible that this, and other texts, were not exclusive to oneparticularr group, but were used by individual groups as they saw fit.

I've also heard that some see the text as antiSemiticc, but I'm afraid I just don't see it. In some cases Gnostic texts clearly identisy the Demiurge, the ignorant if not evil creator of the world, with the God of the Old Testament, but to me this isn't anti-semitism. It's just a denial of an old world order, infavorr of a new one.

So there are my thoughts on the Gospel of Judas. I may have more to say later, but for now that's it. Untill then....


Blogger Ryan W. said...

A friend of mine has a blog on various religious topics. It comments on Gnosticism occasionally, typically in a negative light. I'd be curious to hear your take on things. It's at link

Some gnostic related postings include;


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Anonymous Nazorean said...

Thank you for sharing your dream about being locked in a room with alot of other people. I too have had such a dream. Only in mine we were all shackled and chained to a central post. Everyone was miserable. So, I decided I did not want to be there any more so I got up and much to my surprise I was able to lift my shackle off the central post and leave. I exhorted the others to join me, but they seemed content to languish in their own misery. I then boarded a train which was designated an 'M' which I took to mean 'I AM' which took me into a large store which I understood to be a wealth of even greater knowledge. As you can see this dream was totally Gnostic.

Since then I have embarked on studying the little history still available about early Christianity and how it started. What I have come up with is truly shocking. Although Christians claim that Gnosticism was a second century heresy, the fact is that it was Orthodox Christianity which was the heresy. The earliest writings in the NT are the Epistles of Paul and not the gospels. The Early Church Fahers were well aware that Paul was a Gnostic. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that a Gnostic sect known as the Nazoreans existed in what is today Iraq prior to the time of Jesus.

The Pisonian Conspiracy covered by Tacitus reveals that a group of Romans led by the powerful Piso family plotted to assassinate the Emperor Nero and create a new Jewish religion for the Empire. The plot failed and some 50 Romans met their maker.

The reason for the new religion was to compete with Messianic Judaism which was the fastest growing religion in the Empire. This antislave God/Goddess religion was practiced by members of the Jewish Messianic Movement which proved to be a thorn in the side of the Romans.

The main advantage that the Orthodox clan had over the Gnostics is that they had the blessings of Imperial Rome. The so-called Christian persectuions were aimed not at Gentile Christians, but Jewish Christians and especially members of the Davidian lineage.

To learn more about how 'Paul' and the Romans subverted the teachings of Yeshu and the Nazoreans and proclaimed them the revelations of their godman Jesus Christ visit:

7:19 a.m.  
Blogger Judas Iscariot said...

Definitely great info ;)

12:00 a.m.  
Blogger Jared Jay Bailey said...

This posting was a very good read. It is simply amazing that Judas' betrayal was all a matter of perception

9:49 p.m.  

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