Judas – Friend or Betrayer
Many of you may have been following the news of late about the much anticipated release of The Gospel of Judas. This is one of the most significance finds of the past century. Carbon dated to the third century this manuscript should be of great interest to all of us as it is a great window into our story. If you have not yet seen or heard of this visit:
It is great timing on the part of National Geographic to release the program on Palm Sunday – the day when Judas gets top billing in the story of the Passion. The aim of NG is to preserve the texts which oddly have been banged around now for nearly 30 years since being discovered.
This will no doubt cause much debate in the church. In some circles I am sure it will bring about anger and outright refusal to even participate in the telling of the story of Judas. I must confess that I am excited about this development. You see it is good for us to debate, to converse, to discuss what we believe. Ultimately if the release of these papers brings questions of true or false, black or white, right or wrong, it has little to no value to us. If on the other hand, we approach this has a great opportunity to stretch our faith, to grow our minds, to explore what we believe about Judas in the wonderful and painful story of Jesus in his time, then has tremendous value to us. In seminary I read a book of William Klassen entitled Judas Iscariot – Friend or Betrayer of Jesus. I also heard him speak about the subject. The resulting dialogue and debate at the conclusion of his lecture was brilliant. It was a room of R.C. and Anglican seminarians. It was in our dialogue and conversation that Christ was present. There in that room were young men and women all from different backgrounds all studying their faith to become priests, all articulating what we believed.
There is room in the church to believe that Judas was a betrayer of Christ. There is room as well to see Judas as an obedient friend to Christ. The challenge for all of us with Judas, as with any Biblical personality is to identify with him/her. I can imagine times in my life when I have been Judas to Christ and to friends – times when I have betrayed. Then again, I can recall times on my journey when I have been Judas to Christ and to friends – when I have loyal and obedient, even when it hurt to be so.
I can’t wait o see what these ancient texts reveal. They have already caused conversation about Jesus, about Judas, about friendship, about betrayal, about telling the story. We should all celebrate another opportunity to grow in faith.
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Found your site surfing. I too have Klassen\’s book and have heard him speak – I even interviewed him for our university press. I think this discovery could be of great importance to our understanding of our faith. But it will be important to address it in an intelligent manner – not dismissing it and it\’s ideas out of hand. As it has been traced to the Cainite Gnostic group, it will be important to understand the intention behind the writing to understand the actual writing. I look forward to having a chance to study it and I would love to have you post your thoughts if you\’re comfortable doing so as a man of the cloth.