The following is the all-too-familiar story every Filipino Christian knows: Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples of Jesus, betrayed him to his enemies with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver, after which, out of remorse, he returned the money and hanged himself in a tree.
This is the reason why Judas became the most hated and reviled of all characters in the New Testament. In fact, the term “Judas’ Kiss” has become synonymous with betrayal.
For 2,000 years, this was the official story accepted and adopted by the Catholic Church. No one ever considered the possibility that Judas could have done what he did in obedience of Christ’s wishes, in order to fulfill the prophecy. In other words, Judas should not be considered a villain, but even a hero.
Is there any historical evidence that this new interpretation of Judas’ role could be true?
In 1978, a worn-out and badly damaged codex written on papyrus in the Coptic language (early Christian Egyptian language) was found in a tomb on the right bank of Nile River. It turned out to be what has since then become known as the Gospel of Judas. As early as the 2nd century, it was known that such a gospel existed because a reference to it was mentioned by Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyon, in the year 180. But no one knew what that gospel contained.
According to Bart D. Ehrman, “This lost gospel will rank among the greatest finds from Christian antiquity and is without doubt the most important archeological discovery of the past 60 years.”
In this Gospel, Judas is portrayed in an entirely new way than what was previously known and taught in all Christian schools, as reported in the officially approved gospels by the Catholic Church.
“Here,” according to Bart D. Ehrman, “he is not the evil, corrupt, devil-inspired follower of Jesus who betrayed his master by handing him over to his enemies. He is instead Jesus’ closest intimate and friend, the one who understood Jesus better than anyone else, who turned Jesus over to the authorities because Jesus wanted him to do so. In handing him over, Judas performed the greatest service imaginable. According to this gospel, Jesus wanted to escape this material world that stands opposed to God and return to his heavenly home.”
In this gospel also we find Jesus asking Judas to step aside so that Jesus may teach him the mysteries of the kingdom which were not made known to the other apostles. This was immediately after Judas alone stood to face Jesus and said he knew who Jesus really was.
According to this Gospel: “Judas said to him, ‘I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who sent you.’”
According to an explanatory footnote to this passage, “To confess that Jesus is from the immortal realm (or aeon) of Barbelo is to profess, in Sethian terms, that Jesus is from the divine realm above and is the son of God.”
Elsewhere, Jesus said to Judas, “But you will exceed all of them (referring to all those who have been baptized in Jesus name). For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”
But if it is true that Judas killed himself after handing Jesus to the Roman soldiers, then who wrote this gospel attributed to him?
According to Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, in “Against Heresies,” “the gospel of Judas was written by the followers of Cain, the brother of Abel.”
Another version of the story of Judas, this time coming from a spirit guide who calls himself Gabbey that was channeled by a professor of business management in Pangasinan, Judas did not kill himself as related in the canonical gospels. This story, according to him, was concocted or invented by the rest of the apostles in order to cushion the heat of anger of the multitude against Judas. If he was already dead, nothing more could be done to him.
According to Gabbey, Judas lived and was assigned by Jesus to preach the gospel in Egypt. That’s why no other disciples were sent there. And Judas attracted many followers.
Gabbey also agreed with the story found in the lost Gospel of Judas that Judas did what he did, not because he wanted to do so, but because Jesus asked him to. Gabbey provided a further explanation that in a previous life Jesus and Judas were brothers. They were so close to each other that they promised to each other that they would do whatever the other asked of him. That’s why Judas could not refuse Jesus’ request.
It is not possible to prove Gabbey’s version in any way, but it certainly explains why Judas, the most trusted of the apostles, did what must have been a very difficult thing to do. Perhaps it’s time we revised our image of Judas as an evil and greedy person.
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