Saturday, April 21, 2007

Question about Judas and Sacrifice (Colbert Report)

I am confused about part of the thesis that Elaine Pagels and Karen King have set forth in their new book on the Gospel of Judas (Reading Judas). I just watched the Colbert report (I know I'm a few days behind here, but this week was tough). I thought that Pagels handled Colbert's questions and his intrusiveness very well, but I was still confused about part of the thesis after viewing the clip.

Their main thesis is that martyrdom is being severely criticized by the Gospel of Judas. That the good news of the gospel is that Christians shouldn't listen to their leaders who encourage them to sacrifice themselves. Okay, I think this is a very valid point. But then how can Judas be a good guy or Jesus' friend since he sacrifices Jesus, and according to Pagels is asked by Jesus to do so?

In the report, Pagels asked a very good question, a question that I think the Gospel of Judas does raise - What kind of God is this who requires human sacrifice? But, if God doesn't want sacrifices, then how can Jesus' sacrifice at the hands of Judas be understood by Pagels-King as a good deed by a hero, one that Jesus asks him to do? Does anyone have any ideas?

Update 4-21-07: check out these other blogs on the Colbert report
Patrick McCullough
Mark Goodacre
Tony Chartrand-Burke
John Shuck


Jim Deardorff said...

The way around this that I've explored the past 20 years is that both "God" and Jesus knew, prophetically, that it would be no sacrifice. They knew that he would rise from the tomb in 3 days so as to be able to appear in the flesh to his disciples afterwords.

So I'm suggesting that some attention be paid to the survival hypothesis, knowing from what Josephus reported that the odds of surviving such were somewhere around 1 in 3 if he was taken down from the cross relatively soon with legs unbroken and given clandestine medical care in the tomb for 3 days.

Jim Deardorff

Darrell Grizzle said...

Your question is a valid one. I don't think it was adequately addressed in the book Reading Judas. I recently heard Pagels and King being interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air, and they said when the Gospel of Judas talks of Jesus' body being "sacrificed" it means being sanctified and offered to God, not sacrificed as a blood-sacrifice. That helps explain it a little, I suppose, but it still seems self-contradictory...

~ Darrell