Judas! June 21, 2015

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  • John MacDonald

    If it wasn’t for Judas, Jesus wouldn’t have been arrested. The whole passion/resurrection narrative depends on Judas’ betrayal. He can hardly be considered the bad guy.

    • Gary

      You must have been reading the Gospel of Judas. Clearly other people 2000 years ago had the same idea (although, it would seem to be a minority, maybe, probably?).

      • John MacDonald

        As John Shelby Spong argues, it is probable that little or none of betrayal story of Judas actually happened. From Zechariah we get the account of the betrayal of the shepherd king of the Jews for thirty pieces of silver. From the story of Ahithophel we get the picture of the one who, when he betrayed the Lord’s anointed, went out and hanged himself. Suicide was freshly in the mind of Matthew, for Jewish resistance to the Roman army had ended in mass suicides of the final Jewish soldiers at Masada. From the story of Joab, we get the kiss of betrayal and the disembowelment of Amasa. From Psalm 41 we get the account of the friend who becomes the enemy after eating bread at the table together. From the Joseph story, we get the detail of the brother named Judah (Judas) who decided to seek money in exchange for “handing over” his brother to the gentiles and almost certain death.

        • Gary

          I kind of like the story by Papias, myself.

          • John MacDonald

            I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Could you recount the story by Papias?

          • Gary

            I can’t find the exact quote I got from Bart Ehrman’s “The Gospel of Judas”, but I think this sums up the basic story:
            “Judas walked about as an example of godlessness in this world, having been bloated so much in the flesh that he could not go through where a chariot goes easily, indeed not even his swollen head by itself. For the lids of his eyes, they say, were so puffed up that he could not see the light, and his own eyes could not be seen, not even by a physician with optics, such depth had they from the outer apparent surface. And his genitalia appeared more disgusting and greater than all formlessness, and he bore through them from his whole body flowing pus and worms, and to his shame these things alone were forced [out]. And after many tortures and torments, they say, when he had come to his end in his own place, from the place became deserted and uninhabited until now from the stench, but not even to this day can anyone go by that place unless they pinch their nostrils with their hands, so great did the outflow from his body spread out upon the earth.”

            To be clear, Bart Erhman says this is a story, fiction. Not very believable. But what a story!

            But I have a much more comfortable feeling about the actual Gospel of Judas. I like good endings, not bad endings, so much. But got to admit, Papias can tell a good story.

          • Gary

            Actually, for full disclosure, Bart Ehrman tells the story that Papias relates, in regard to a clearly fictional story, but relates it to the apologists, who make a big deal about Papias actual interviewing the witnesses of the disciples of Jesus. That being said, if you find one story ridiculously unbelievable, why quote another story as a firm foundation of faith. Personally, I don’t have enough expertise to evaluate the scenario.

        • I’m not sure why you find this particular aspect of Spong’s views persuasive.

          • John MacDonald

            I find it persuasive that the gospels are largely constructed by way of haggadic midrash, so I find Spong persuasive because this is what he argues in his books “Liberating The Gospels” and “Reclaiming The Bible For A Non-Religious World.” Scholars like Harvey Fox, Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard University and Jack D. Spiro, director, Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Judaic Studies also take his argument very seriously.

          • I would be interested to read what Fox and Spiro have to say about Spong’s work. Do you have citations? I imagine that Spiro at least points out the misuse of terminology in the interest of inventing a non-existent genre?

          • John MacDonald

            Regarding Spong’s book “Liberating The Gospels,” Jack D. Spiro commented that the book was “Compelling, controversial, substantive, provocative, and original … remarkably convincing.” Harvey Cox commented about the book that “Bishop Spong’s work is a significant accomplishment.” _________________________________
            I don’t think it matters whether you call the genre of the gospels haggadic midrash or not. The point just seems to be that the gospel writers were rewriting old testament stories using Jesus as the central character. For example, the gospel of Matthew recapitulates the story of Moses in the infancy story of Jesus. Matthew presents Jesus as the new Moses.

          • So you’ve read their blurbs, and somehow think that their endorsement means they have no criticisms to offer and thus they must be on board with the transfer of a procedure at work in what were anyway clearly ahistorical symbolic stories, to events where the attempt to posit a similar process of construction is far less plausible?

          • John MacDonald

            Sorry, but I’m not really sure what it is that you’re asking. Could you restate in other words?

          • John MacDonald

            That should read “Cox,” not “Fox.”

          • I did wonder if that was whom you meant to refer to. Have you read anything by Cox apart from his blurb for Spong’s book?

          • John MacDonald

            I haven’t heard of him except through Spong.

          • You haven’t heard of Harvey Cox except through John Shelby Spong?!?!?

          • John MacDonald

            I read Cox’s positive comments about Spong’s book “Liberating The Gospels.” That’s the only way I’ve encountered him.

          • ccws

            You never heard of Harvey Cox?? His seminal general-audience work is “The Secular City.” Another good one is “The Seduction of the Spirit”; his latest is “How to Read the Bible” (which I just got from the library but haven’t read yet).

  • Anthony Le Donne

    Love this one!