“The Conversion of Judas”
An upbeat, enthusastic article about the Gospel of Judas appears on the explorefaith.org website:
“Just in Time for Good Friday – The Conversion of Judas”
by Jon M. Sweeney, author/editor of the excellent biography of St. Francis, The Road to Assisi, as well as The St. Francis Prayer Book (which I highly recommend).
Sweeney offers an interesting and worthwhile perspective, one that encourages us to re-think our perceptions of Judas. But the article doesn’t address any of the spiritual difficulties with the recently-unearthed Gospel of Judas: its dualism, its homophobia (see my earlier post, dated April 7th), or the spiritual elitism of the Gnostic sect that produced it. Unlike the Gospel of Thomas, which recognizes the divine light within us all, the Gospel of Judas says that only a few, the spiritual children of Seth, have that divine light within them – the rest of us simply cease to exist when we die.
I think it’s worthwhile to compare the two gospels, since many of the news stories and articles about the Gospel of Judas also mention the Gospel of Thomas (including the one by Sweeney).
The Gospel of Thomas was suppressed by the early Church because it was too inclusive: it doesn’t limit the divine light to those who believe in Jesus, as the Gospel of John does. The Gospel of Judas, which portrays Judas as the only one of Jesus’ disciples to have that divine light, was suppressed in part because it wasn’t inclusive enough.
The two gospels represent two very different forms of Gnosticism. I’m currently writing an article comparing the two for the May/June 2006 issue of Whosoever. Working title: “The Lost Gospels of Judas and Thomas: A Tale of Two Gnostics.”
More information, links, photos, and commentary (both positive and negative) on the Gospel of Judas is on the website of Roger Pearse: The Coptic Ps.Gospel of Judas (Iscariot).
Also, The New Yorker has a rather sardonic review of the book as well as all the hype: Jesus Laughed: In the “Gospel of Judas,” the renegade is redeemed, by Adam Gopnik.