The Controversy named Judas Essay
The Controversy named Judas
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One of Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot is famously known to be the apostle who betrayed Jesus and led him to his crucifixion – The Controversy named Judas Essay introduction. He is described in scriptures to have sold Jesus Christ to the Romans for thirty pieces of silver. However, controversy began to arise as an ancient document in Coptic text is believed to be the Gospel of Judas. Researchers claimed that it includes the narration of Jesus’ and Judas’ dialogues which reveal that Judas’ betrayal is already predestined. In addition to that, the text also reveals that Jesus allowed Judas to betray him to accomplish a divine mission. This controversy still produces debates even today as many doubt the credibility and reliability of the said Coptic text.
The Controversy named Judas
Before the discovery of the ancient Coptic text from Egypt during the 1970s, the betrayal of Judas is the most common form of identification for Judas. People would common refer to him as the betrayer alone. It is rare that he would be talked about in a positive light as he has become an icon of betrayal and materialism in the biblical history. However, a controversy regarding his real intentions in betraying Jesus is stirred when an ancient document is said to have been found near Beni Masar, Egypt (BBC News). The news article touches the issue of National Geographic society’s translation of the said Coptic text which is written in a worn out papyrus. The English translation further reveals and puts into light the assumption that Judas actually did not act out of materialism or betrayal to Jesus. He acted as he was instructed to do so by Jesus. He sold him to the Romans so that Jesus could be crucified and sacrificed for our redemption (Ehrman 2). “this lost Gospel named after Jesus’ betrayer portrayed Judas Iscariot not as the rotten apple in the apostolic barrel but as the only disciple who understood Jesus’ teaching and did his will” (Ehrman 2). This argument therefore developed more arguments about the real intentions behind Judas’ actions. The lost gospel gives light to the assertion that Judas’ might actually be deserving of respect and praise for what he had done.
However, other arguments criticized the document for its doubtful credibility. The Church is one of the most vocal critic of the discovered gospel and dismissed the document as a heretic’s work. Irenaeus, a second century church father, declared that the piece was merely a work of fiction to promote heresy. An excerpt form his book, Against Heresies describes the said gospel:
They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earhtly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produced a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the gospel of Judas (Pagels and King xii).
Nonetheless, it is clear in the scriptures that there is some sort of reverence that must be associated to Judas. Ehrman argues that Jesus Christ was already aware of the betrayal but he still included Judas as one of his twelve apostles. This can support the idea that Judas’ betrayal was entirely a part of Jesus’ plan to redeem humankind. Ehrman also counters the Irenaeus claim that the work is fiction. He believes that Jesus meant what he said when he says to the disciples that, “Truly I say to you, in the renewed world, when the son of Man is sitting on the throne of his glory, you also will be seated on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). Jesus undoubtedly considered Judas as one of the twelve apostles who would later rule the world. This could not possibly be edited or fictionalized because Christians would most likely not want Judas to be part of the twelve. “Since later Christians maligned Judas as the one who was unfaithful to the cause, who had committed an unpardonable sin against Jesus, they would not have invented a saying that would suggest his future rule in glory” (Ehrman 152).
I believe that the researchers have a point in considering the truth in the Gospel of Judas. The truth is Judas really helped in redeeming humankind as Jesus would not have been crucified and died for our sins if Judas had not betrayed him to the Romans. However, it is also quite questionable that such ancient document exists for more than centuries and was not found until the 1970s. It is understandable that the Church would shout “Heresy!” as Christians have been taught to hate and despise Judas for selling Christ for a cheap thirty pieces of silver. Yet, if one would think about it and analyze everything deeply, it is safe to conclude that we know nothing of the exact events in the Bible. With so many translations and versions, it is quite hard to determine if what we know right now are truths. There is no way of knowing the real events following the life of Christ. What is really important is the fact that we believe in Him no matter who his disciples or friends are.
Ehrman, Bart D. The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look At Betrayer and Betrayed.
New York: Oxford University Press US, 2006.
“Judas helped Jesus save mankind.” 7 April 2006. BBC News. 22 April 2009. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4882420.stm>
Pagels, Elaine H. & Karen L. King. Reading Judas: the Gospel of Judas and the shaping of Christianity. New York: Viking, 2007.