Betrayer and Betrayed

The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed
© 2006 Bart Ehrman
198 pages

In the 1970s a small collection of previously unknown texts surfaced, one of which (“The Gospel of Judas”) was of great interest to scholars specializing in Coptic texts, gnostic texts, and early Christianity.   I read what’s survived of the text years ago, via Elaine Pagels’ Reading Judas,  and so wasn’t particularly interested in this title – reading it at the urging of a friend who has the theology of an Episcopalian but secretly delights in presenting  books like this to his Baptist Sunday school class.  The gist of the Judas text is that Judas was Jesus’ closest friend who alone perceived the truth about him being a divine creature from another plane, and did him a great service by instigating the arrest that led to Jesus’ death and escape from our world after he’d fulfilled his earthly mission. There’s more to it, but it’s all hateful and dreary gnosticism.   Ehrman reviews the turbulent history of how the text came to be found and travel through the antiquities underground;  reviews the treatment of Judas in the various Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and succeeding Christian literature;    places it within the context of the Gnostic movement, and  concludes by arguing that Judas  and Jesus are both best understood through the light of Jewish Apocalypticism. He later expanded that into Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.  Having previously read Reading Judas and his apocalyptic argument, this was old hat for me, but I was intrigued by the fact that there’s debate currently over whether Gnosticism is purely a Christian heresy, or if it existed independently and some of its practitioners  became Christian and created a fusion. 

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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5 Responses to Betrayer and Betrayed

  1. “…hareful and dreary gnositcism” sounds like a GREAT descriptor of his books.

  2. YES!! That is exactly what they are and what has happend. What a relief to know it is not because I am easily distracted with apparently fat fingers that hit multiple keys at a time.

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