Monday, April 30, 2007

Article Note: "À Propos de la (Re)découverte de L'Évangile de Judas (Louis Painchaud)

Laval théologique et philosophique just released Louis Painchaud's statement about the Gospel of Judas, presented orally at the University of Ottawa on September 30, 2006, at the conference "Christian Apocryphal Texts for the New Millenium." It is found in journal# 62.3 (October 2006) 553-568. I thank Professor Painchaud for sending me an offprint. A pioneering presentation and article indeed, challenging National Geographic's misreading of the text!

I reproduce here the English abstract (the article is in French).
Far from presenting Judas as the perfect Christian, the faithful disciple whose assistance Jesus seeks in liberating himself from him material body, the Gospel of Judas actually turns Judas into the leading figure in a sacrificial interpretation of the crucifixion. This sacrificial interpretation, and the various ways in which it is manifested in Christian behavior (eucharist, Christian life seen as an ongoing sacrifice, martyrdom) is presented in the Gospel of Judas as a continuation of Jewish cultic practices, and as being devoted to an inferior god, who is not the Father of Jesus. Judas is thus (literally!) demonized, put under the power of the astral determinism and assimilated to the archons whom he serves. In the gospel that bears his name, Judas is indeed called to reign over others, but his power does not extend beyond the limits of the material world, and those over whom he rules will curse him.
And so it begins...

2 comments: said...

The professor states that The Gospel of Judas actually 'turns' Judas. I ask, from what? Is he saying that the writer actually turns Judas from what we understand him to be in the NT? We cannot be sure that the writer of the Gospel of Judas had before him exactly what we have.

Has the professor considered that the writer may have indeed been working from understood memories of Judas?

In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus doesn't have a material body. My view at present of the phrase: "you will sacrifice the man that clothes me" is that 'Jesus' considers that he indwells the body of Judas and that in effect Judas will sacrifice himself.

There no mention of crucifixion in the Gospel of Judas (unless it was in the missing text).

To me the most important features of this Gospel are the recalled memories, not the readings or interpretations applicable to the time of writing. How for example, did the writer come to think that Judas was a prophet? What made him believe that Judas might have been stoned? And what made him associate Judas with worship in the sanctuary? None of these ideas came from the extant NT. They could have been invented, but they could well have been tranmitted orally, or they could have been memories of documents destroyed before the Gospel of Judas was written. When I tie-in what I understand about Judas in the writings attributed to Josephus, making Judas a central character of the gospel of Judas makes real sense.

Geoff said...

And what inherited memories caused the writer to believe in a hybrid Jesus - one with a semblance of the human Jesus of the NT, but nevertheless a spirit that could appear to and indwell a human?