- July 29, 2009 at 5:37 am #1929
this is an article i got off “The NewYorker” here goes:
t the Last Supper, Jesus knew that it would be the last, and that he would be dead by the next day. Each of the Evangelists tells the story differently, but, according to John, Jesus spent the time he had left re-stating to the disciples the lessons he had taught them and trying to prop up their courage. At a certain point, however, he lost heart. “Very truly,” he said to his men, “one of you will betray me.” Who? they asked. And he answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” He then dipped a piece of bread into a dish and handed it to Judas Iscariot, a disciple whom the Gospels barely mention before the scene of the Last Supper but who now becomes very important. Once Judas takes the bread, Satan “entered into” him, John says. Is that a metaphor, meaning that Jesus’ prediction enables Judas to betray him? Maybe so, maybe not, but Jesus soon urges him directly. “Do quickly what you are going to do,” he says. And so Judas gets up from the table and leaves. That night (or perhaps even before the Last Supper), he meets with the priests of the Temple, makes the arrangements for the arrest, and collects his reward, the famous thirty pieces of silver.
That is the beginning of Jesus’ end, and of Judas’s. Jesus is arrested within hours. Judas, stricken with remorse, returns to the priests and tries to give them back their money. They haughtily refuse it. Judas throws the coins on the floor. He then goes out and hangs himself. He dies before Jesus does.
Did Judas deserve this fate? If Jesus informs you that you will betray him, and tells you to hurry up and do it, are you really responsible for your act? Furthermore, if your act sets in motion the process Christ’s Passion whereby humankind is saved, shouldn’t somebody thank you? No, the Church says. If you betray your friend, you are a sinner, no matter how foreordained or collaterally beneficial your sin. And, if the friend should happen to be the Son of God, so much the worse for you.
For two thousand years, Judas has therefore been Christianity’s primary image of human evil. Now, however, there is an effort to rehabilitate him, the result, partly, of an archeological find. In 1978 or thereabouts, some peasants digging for treasure in a burial cave in Middle Egypt came upon an old codex that is, not a scroll but what we would call a book, with pages written in Coptic, the last form of ancient Egyptian. The book has been dated to the third or fourth century, but scholars believe that the four texts it contains are translations of writings, in Greek, from around the second century. When the codex was found, it was reportedly in good condition, but it then underwent a twenty-three-year journey through the notoriously venal antiquities market, where it suffered fantastic abuses, including a prolonged stay in a prospective buyer’s home freezer. (This caused the ink to run when the manuscript thawed.) The book was cracked in half, horizontally; pages were shuffled, torn out. By the time the codex reached the hands of restorers, in 2001, much of it was just a pile of crumbs. The repair job took five years, after which some of the book was still a pile of crumbs. Many passages couldn’t be read.
And then there was the strangeness of what could be read. In the twentieth century, Bible scholars repeatedly had to deal with ancient books the Dead Sea scrolls, the Nag Hammadi library that surfaced from the sands of the Middle East to wreak havoc with orthodoxy. These books said that much of what we call Christian doctrine predated Christ; that the universe was created by a female deity, and so on. The 1978 find called the Codex Tchacos, for one of its successive owners, Frieda Tchacos Nussberger was even more surprising, because one of its texts, twenty-six pages long, was entitled “The Gospel of Judas.” It wasn’t written by Judas. (We don’t know if there was a historical Judas Iscariot.) It was a story about Judas, and in it the great villain, the Christ-killer, was portrayed as Jesus’ favorite disciple, the only one who understood him.
The Codex Tchacos, like the Nag Hammadi library, was the work of an ancient religious party, mostly Christian, that we call Gnostic. In the second century, Christianity was not an institution but a collection of warring factions, each with its own gospels, each claiming direct descent from Jesus, each accusing the others of heresy, homosexuality, and the like. In the fourth century, one group, or group of groups, won out: the people now known as the proto-orthodox, because, once they won, their doctrines became orthodoxy. The proto-orthodox were centrist. They embraced both the Hebrew Bible and the new law proclaimed by Jesus; they said that Jesus was both God and man; they believed that the world was both full of blessings and full of sin. Of the many gospels circulating, they chose four, called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which, by reason of their realism and emotional directness their lilies of the field and prodigal sons were most likely to appeal to regular people.
The Gnostics were different visionary, exclusionary. They scorned the Hebrew Bible; they said that the world was utterly evil; they claimed that the key to salvation was not faith or good behavior but secret knowledge, which was their exclusive property. The Gospel of Judas is entirely in line with this view. In it, most people have no hope of getting to Heaven. As for Jesus, he was not a man but wholly divine, and therefore Judas didn’t really have him killed. (Only a mortal can be killed.) According to some commentators, this Jesus asked Judas to release him from the human form he had assumed in order to descend to earth. Judas did him a favor.
what do you think?August 2, 2009 at 10:15 am #9397
why wont anyone answer?August 5, 2009 at 4:22 am #9398
Sorry for the delay, been a bit under the weather.
From a Catholic point of view, we do not know the state of ones soul at the end of their lives. What we know about Judas is that he was an Apostle, chosen by Christ. He did betray our Lord, and why we don’t know fully. He did go back to the Chief Priests and try to revoke his betrayal, and was refused by the Chief Priests. He hanged himself and was buried in a potters field.
What we don’t know is if he made a perfect act of contrition before he died. A perfect act of contrition is expressing to God sorrow for one’s sins because God is deserving of our love as expressed by wanting to do his will, and not sinning. Imperfect Contrition is sorrow for our sins because we are afraid of the pains of hell.
Since we don’t know for sure why he did what he did, if he was manipulated, or did not know fully what would happen to Jesus, we can’t really judge, that is for God, who knows fully the state of Judas’ soul.
In like manner, the Catholic Church has never stated that anyone, even the leaders of the Protestant Reformation or Anti-Catholics of our modern day are in hell.
The writers of the New Yorker, and other secular magazines, are not the sources I would look to for authentic Catholic, or any other religious teachings.August 6, 2009 at 5:30 am #9399
Speaking of the New Yorker Magazine, for no good reason I had an issue sent to me yesterday in the mail. hmmmAugust 19, 2009 at 8:13 pm #9432
That is the alpha of Jesus’ end, and of Judas’s. Jesus is arrested aural hours. Judas, stricken with remorse, allotment to the priests and tries to accord them aback their money. They haughtily debris it. Judas throws the bill on the floor. He again goes out and hangs himself. He dies afore Jesus does.
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