Crucifixion demonstrates "What dies is only the mortal body, not the living spirit."
"The central idea is that 'those who imagine human sacrifice pleases God have no understanding of the Father...' And even more, 'By teaching that Jesus died in agony for the sins of the world and encouraging his followers to die as he did, certain leaders send them on a path toward destruction - while encouraging them with the false promise that they will be resurrected from death to eternal life in the flesh.' The Gospel of Judas teaches that at the moment of death the human body dies and there is no resurrection of the flesh. Eternal life has to do with understanding our spiritual, non-physical connection to God. Judas says that the crucifixion of Jesus demonstrates that the death of the body is not an end of our 'real' life. What dies is only the mortal body, not the living spirit."
The Spiritual Reviewer Rates this book 8.2 April 2, 2007
By The Spiritual Reviewer (Center Harbor, NH United States)
This book presents us with a content analysis and the actual translated text of the Gospel of Judas, which was accidentally discovered by peasants in a burial cave in the 1970's in Middle Egypt near al Minya. The archaeological find was finally made public by the National Geographic Society in April 2006. Award-winning authors, Pagels and King, who study, translate and specialize in early Christian writings, estimate that the Gospel "Was written sometime around 150 C.E., about a century after Judas would have lived, it is impossible that he wrote it; the real author remains anonymous."
In addition to its outside-the-box spiritual teaching, this Gospel is valued because it clearly shows that the early Christian movement was not characterized by the unified, simplistic and fixed message that we hear today. Rather, it's yet another piece of evidence that demonstrates there were many different and controversial messages, each competing for a position of supremacy, each claiming to be the divine truth, each messenger asserting to be the most special and favored one. While many people are comforted by the idea that the 12 apostles worked together and that they unanimously embraced and delivered the same doctrines, this homogenized and white-washed picture is a distortion of the historical facts, rivalries and power struggles that are now being revealed.
MESSAGE OF LOVE: Score 10
If God is Love and only Love, He cannot be violence. The Gospel of Judas renounces violence, sacrifice, martyrdom and even the cannibalistic practice of symbolically eating the body and blood of Christ as God's Will. This is in direct contrast to one of the central messages of Christianity, where sacrifice and suffering is used as a bargaining tool with God: "With the suffering of just one hour, you can purchase for yourself eternal life!"
The central idea is that "those who imagine human sacrifice pleases God have no understanding of the Father..." And even more, "By teaching that Jesus died in agony for the sins of the world and encouraging his followers to die as he did, certain leaders send them on a path toward destruction - while encouraging them with the false promise that they will be resurrected from death to eternal life in the flesh." The Gospel of Judas teaches that at the moment of death the human body dies and there is no resurrection of the flesh. Eternal life has to do with understanding our spiritual, non-physical connection to God. Judas says that the crucifixion of Jesus demonstrates that the death of the body is not an end of our "real" life. "What dies is only the mortal body, not the living spirit."
INSPIRATION: Score 10
Inspiration from this work does not come in the conventional manner, as an emotional surge. Rather, it comes as a subtle opportunity to forgive Judas and to release him from the judgments we hold against him (and thus, against ourselves)
The reader is invited to perceive Judas Iscariot in a new, uplifting and more loving way. Instead of meeting him as the predictable and villainous betrayer, we are re-introduced to him as the only one who really understands and gets the message that Jesus was trying to deliver: that suffering is not necessary; that suffering has no value; that suffering can be transcended. Judas is characterized as the only disciple who is ready and able to hear the mysteries of the kingdom: ."..that there is another glorious divine realm above the material world, and an immortal holy race exists above the perishable human race."
PRACTICALITY OR RELEVANCE: Score 10
Anything that forces us to open the mind and look more closely at fundamental religious beliefs to see if they still make sense is highly relevant. This is because our beliefs guide our actions and our actions determine our life experience. The authors tell us that over the past 40 years "We have gained access to over forty gospels, letters, and other early Christian works." The Gospel of Judas is as important today as it was when it was written.
READABILITY: Score 4
Reading Judas is scholarly, well-written and well-researched. But that said, the actual reading experience is more like forcing yourself to take medicine or to do a homework assignment. You know it's good for you, but you don't really enjoy it. Because of that, this book would best be suited for those who are more intellectually inclined than those who are looking for a quick and easy read.
TOTAL SCORE: 34
AVERAGE SCORE: 8.2
Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity
Kiss and Make Up
By STEPHEN PROTHERO
Published: June 24, 2007
"In the New Testament, Judas Iscariot is a Satan-possessed traitor who turns Jesus in for 30 pieces of silver; the other disciples are the heroic founders of the church. In the topsy-turvy Gospel of Judas, branded heretical in A.D. 180 by the church father Irenaeus, the disciples play the goats and Judas the hero. The other disciples, who go by the ganglandish name "The 12," are murderers and fools. Judas is Jesus' closest confidante, the one man who truly understands 'the mysteries which are beyond the world and the things which will occur at the end.'
Since the fourth-century Coptic version of this second-century Greek text was released last April by the National Geographic Society, a variety of books have appeared promising to decode it. In 'Judas and the Gospel of Jesus,' N. T. Wright offered the conservative critique, insisting that the man in question was a villain after all, and that the early Christians chose well when they decided to put their faith in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In 'The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot,' Bart Ehrman tells the cloak-and-dagger story of the papyrus codex from its discovery by an Egyptian farmer in the 1970's through the vagaries of the antiquities market, including a stop in a freezer along the way.
'Reading Judas,' a collaborative effort by the Princeton professor Elaine Pagels, best known for her book 'The Gnostic Gospels,' and the Harvard professor Karen L. King, the author of 'The Gospel of Mary of Magdala,' focuses exclusively on the meaning of this last-shall-be-first text. It includes a co-written essay on this gospel's key themes, followed by an English translation and an extensive commentary by King.
One of the genuine puzzles of early Christianity, and of much subsequent Christian history, concerns who is to blame for Jesus' death. The Gospels make it plain that it was God's plan, and that Jesus carried out this divine plan in order to save human beings from the wages of sin. And yet Judas and the Jews (to whom the word 'Judas' is etymologically linked) are blamed for setting this divine plan in motion. As Pagels and King note, there is something amiss here. How can Judas be branded evil for carrying out God's plan? Is his infamous kiss, depicted on the dust jacket of 'Reading Judas,' really a betrayal if God had the crucifixion in mind from before Jesus' birth?
Pagels and King do an excellent job explaining why, according to the author of this renegade gospel, mainstream Christianity has gotten it so wrong for so long. Along the way they introduce us to, among other things, a goddess named Barbelo (for some Gnostics, a divine mother figure who often symbolized heaven) and try to make sense of teachings that to most readers today will seem like nutty musings on numerology, cosmology, astrology and eschatology. On the perennial question of death and the afterlife, Pagels and King explain that whereas other early Christians affimed the doctrine of bodily resurrection, the Christians to whom this gospel is addressed believed in the immortal spirit. Here the body is suspect. Jesus is not reborn in the flesh but simply appears. The eternal life he offers is lived in the spirit alone, and it is won more through Jesus' teachings than through his sacrifice on the cross."
Web (April 14, 2015)
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