Reactions to the Gospel of Judas



Gospel of Judas: Survey of Early Reactions and Commentary

 
So here we are again, two thousand years later, and Judas is fulfilling his mission to bring light into darkness, and the darkness still has not understood it.

Once again, we are rehearsing all the old strategies of marginalization and denial which structure the discourse of orthodoxy and heresy:
  • the Gospel of Judas is "gnostic"
  • it is "Sethian" or "Cainite"
  • it shows "oriental" influences
  • it is written too late to mean anything
  • it is anti-Semitic (or deviant Judiasm)
  • it has no implications for our understanding of early Christianity
  • it is outside the "pure" canon determined by the "holy Fathers"
  • it shows the writer "hates the world" and "hates the body"
  • it's the work of Satan
As Karen King points out, this discourse is based on concerns of origins, purity and essence, and have their modern counterparts in historicism, antisyncretism and phenomology and typology. Conventional wisdom, formed largely out of psychological projection and resistance, sees Gnosticism as too little or too much influenced by Judaism; as Hellenic-Pagan or Oriental (Manichaean or other) contamination of Christianity; centered on a Gnostic Savior, as dualistic and anticosmic and docetic and demiurgic and anti-Semitic and ascetic/libertine. None of these strategies, whose goal is exclusion, have proven scientifically viable and must be given up, as well as the term "Gnosticism" itself as a meaningful, non-polemical category.

The history of the scholarly study of religion, and "Gnosticism" in particular, traces the surrender, in the face of new facts and knowledge, of one cherished belief or hypothesis after another, from the "historical Jesus" to the authorship of the Gospels to the use of Gnosticism as a polemical category to define and defend the borders of orthodox Christianity.

What we are left with, once most of the resistances have been overcome, is a much more complex picture of the historical environment, social structure and textual resources of early Christian communities, and a "Gnosticism" that cannot be separated from very early Christianity, or what Bart Ehrman calls "proto-orthodoxy" -- since there was no orthodoxy at the time. According to King, "Christoph Markschies suggest that we have lost 85% of Chrisitan literature from the first two centuries -- and that includes only the literature we know about." (The Gospel of Mary Magdala p.6).

The Gospel of Judas takes us to the late second century, if there existed a Greek original for the Coptic copy found in Egypt, presumably similar to the one described (but not seen) by Irenaeus in 180CE. We now find ourselves outside the bulwark of the first century, beyond which no taint of impurity to the true tradition is presumed to exist.

Keeping in mind the minimum 85% suppressed or neglected early texts, this boundary seems arbitrary and psychologically naive. The answer, judging from recent reaction, to the question "does the Gospel of Judas tell us anything about the historical Jesus (as if there were one) or very early Chrisitanity?" is a thunderous, near-unanimous "No." And what are our modern protectors of the faith protecting us from?

Tertullian, a Church Father and heresy hunter, said in AD160: "When we come to believe, we have no desire to believe anything else; for we begin by believing that there is nothing else which we have to believe." and "it is better for you to remain ignorant, for fear that you come to what you should not know." Just exactly what is it, that we "should not know?" Which is the same question as "what did the Gnostics (the knowers) know"?

Here we find ourselves again at the intersection of myth and history, and at the disjunction of religion, natural science and psychology, none of which seems capable of talking to one another. Daniel Dennett's concept of "belief in belief" explains the adaptive value of belief in itself, outside of specific articles of faith, but is scorned by the religionists as "scientism" and largely ignores a century of insight into psychological resistance and ego formation. Science and religion talk past each other, having no common ground, while psychology, which should have a role in their mediation, has come to a dead end with its schism between matter and mind, and is listened to by no one. Science sees nothing to know, since it cannot see a Spiritual domain. Religion, the container of Spirituality, doesn't believe in science, and would rather not know, either about its own developmental history or what it has been resisting for two thousand years.

The psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion calls the "selected fact" the fact that can't be selected because it will result in catastrophic change for the psyche or group. The selected fact is the fact that cannot be integrated into the current definatory hypothesis or basic belief system because its integration will cause the destruction of the container, the current definatory hypothesis maintained by mythical assumptions.

The selected fact in the current belief system of Biblical scholarship -- and mainstream Christianity -- is the probability that "Gnostic influences" reach into the pre-history of both orthodox Christianity and normative Judaism, that Jesus taught on many levels to reach the various levels of psycho-spirtual development of his audience and -- "Anyone with two ears should listen" -- had a not-so-secret teaching (for those who could hear) which developed into a wild variety of "gnosticisms" appropriate for the times. And that because human consciousness was not mature enough two thousand years ago to think scientifically, Jesus' teachings were encapsulated by the collective psyche in a defensive reaction opposite and equal to the power of his revelation, as he knew it would be, awaiting the second coming and the development of individualized psyches capable of understanding the Truth.

What they don't want you to know:
  • Belief is not all you need
  • You are probably not saved
  • There is actually something to know
  • Faith without knowledge and works is useless
  • Jesus did not come to save you from your sins
  • Direct spiritual experience is not only possible but necessary
  • Judas was the true disciple and Jesus' necessary partner in the evolution of human consciousness
  • Which is happening as we speak
These are some of the things that someone with an open mind might begin to think about if they read The Gospel of Judas.

Perhaps, if our faith were more pure, we would imagine that God's plan included a component for the long-term education and evolution of human conscousness (considering its current pathetic state), and could see our arrogance and immaturity in presuming to understand the Word, as well as the meaning of Judas' reappearance at this time in history.

Which leaves the question: has the human race evolved or developed psychologically or spiritually -- at all -- in the past two thousand years?

Recommended reading:
Carlo Suares: Judas, or Jesus Accepted
Carlo Suares: Lexicon: Qahaeen/Hevel Cain and Abel

Resources:
Jesus Myth / Historical Jesus
Gnosticism / Gnostic Material
New Testament Resources
 
Background on the struggle between belief and knowledge:

The unspeakable that I allude to in my title concerns what we might label the demographic peculiarities of the academic discipline of biblical scholarship. Addressing this very issue thirty years ago, M.H. Goshen-Gottstein observed: "However we try to ignore it — practically all of us are in it because we are either Christians or Jews." [1] In the intervening decades, very little has changed. Biblicists continue to be professing (or once-professing) Christians and Jews. They continue to ignore the fact that the relation between their own religious commitments and their scholarly subject matter is wont to generate every imaginable conflict of intellectual interest. Too, they still seem oblivious to how strange this state of affairs strikes their colleagues in the humanities and social sciences.
Society of Biblical Literature: The Unspeakable in Biblical Scholarship by Jacques Berlinerblau

... how Strutwolf's hypothesis relates to the history of early Christianity. He did state that he sees in early Christianity a much broader network of textual transmission than the RH permits. If we can find all these different text-types existing in what are supposed to be the scribal and theological centers of early Christianity, then we must assume a different social structure than is often presupposed.
Ekthesis: Day Conference on TC and the NA Text: The Theory of Local Text-Types - A Plea For Paradigm Shift in New Testament Textual Research (RH dead)

Why is it so hard to define Gnosticism? The problem, I argue, is that a rhetorical term has been confused with a historical entity. There was and is no such thing as gnosticism, if we mean by that some kind of ancient religious entity with a single origin and a distinct set of characteristics. Gnosticism is rather, a term invented in the early modern period to aid in defining the boundaries of normative Christianity.
notes on What is Gnosticism? by Karen King

In a recent special issue of U.S. News & World Report (on sale through August 29), one can read: “In the beginning, there was not one Christianity, but many. And among them was a well-established tradition of gnosticism, one of the key ‘heresies’ upon which Dan Brown builds the plot of The Da Vinci Code.” Well, no, actually: In the beginning of the common era, there was not even one Christianity but only Greco-Roman Jewry, whose monotheism, even in its proto-Christian guise, the polytheistic majority rightly regarded as atheism vis-à-vis all gods but one. This was the divide that mattered. Within that Jewish world community, two historic world religions-Rabbinic Judaism and Orthodox Christianity-would define each other into existence in a reciprocal process that, as Daniel Boyarin has recently and brilliantly shown (Border Lines, University of Pennsylvania Press), took centuries to reach completion. Alongside both, more than ready to absorb them, was the immense, flexible, metaphysically speculative, culturally omnivorous, definition-defying mainstream that was Greco-Roman polytheism. Gnosticism was a kaleidoscopically pluriform variety of that.
Commonweal: Jack Miles: Judas & Jesus What Did The Gnostics Really Believe?

Dr. Dennett shows that for the vast majority of people there is nothing more important than religion. It is an integral part of their marriage, child rearing, and community. Dennett takes a hard look at this phenomenon and asks: Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In a spirited investigation that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized religion evolved from folk beliefs and why it is such a potent force today. Deftly and lucidly, he contends that the “belief in belief” has fogged any attempt to rationally consider the existence of God and the relationship between divinity and human need.
eSkeptic: February 23rd, 2006: Breaking The Spell Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
The New York Review of Books: Freeman Dyson: Religion from the Outside

Dogmatism verses Gnosticism
Academic theologians identify two distinct manifestations of religious traditions, called Dogmatism and Gnosticism. Dogmatism is any religious tradition based on a set doctrine of beliefs. Gnosticism is any religious tradition based on one particular way of looking at the world. An example of Dogma is the belief that a person can only find salvation if they accept Jesus as their savior. An example of Gnosticism is the belief that a person can find salvation through knowledge of their true nature and other associated realizations.
A Glasgow Gnostic: Dogmatism verses Gnosticism

The theme of secrecy in the canonic Gospel of Mark
The canonic Gospel of Mark reveals that secret teachings were a feature of the message Jesus imparted to his inner circle. This sort of "layered revelation" was a common feature of the mystery religions of the period, and was prevalent in Gnostic Christianity.

The motif of secrecy in Mark is a rather complex one, as was recognized long before the Mar Saba letter was revealed (Grant 1963). Robert M. Grant identifies both a theme of silence and one of secret or private teachings in Mark. The silence may be that of exorcised demons (1:25, 34; 3:12) or enjoined on men who have been cured (1:43-5; 5:43; 7:36, 8:26), as well as on the disciples themselves: they are to keep private the identification of Jesus as Messiah (8:30), the transfiguration (9:9) or even his whereabouts whether in Tyre (7:24) or travelling through Galilee (9:30). There is a secret knowledge imparted by Jesus, "the secret of the kingdom of God" (4:10-12). "To a considerable extent the full revelation is given only to the four disciples who were the first to be called (1:16-20, 29; 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33). Teaching about the passion and resurrection is given only ‘on the road’ apart from the multitudes (8:27; 9:33; 10:32)." (Grant 1963)

On the other hand, the other canonical gospels all portray the period after the resurrection as a time when the remaining mysteries were explained to the disciples. And the theme of teachings hidden in one text but not another is more characteristic of gnostic texts. The Gospel of Judas, for example, recounts teachings supposedly given to Judas but concealed from the other disciples
Secret Gospel of Mark - Wikipedia

What, then, do these texts say, and why did certain leaders find them so threatening? First, they suggest that the way to God can be found by anyone who seeks. According to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus suggests that when we come to know ourselves at the deepest level, we come to know God: ``If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.'' This message -- to seek for oneself -- was not one that bishops like Irenaeus appreciated: Instead, he insisted, one must come to God through the church, ``outside of which,'' he said, ``there is no salvation.''

Second, in texts that the bishops called ``heresy,'' Jesus appears as human, yet one through whom the light of God now shines. So, according to the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said, ``I am the light that is before all things; I am all things; all things come forth from me; all things return to me. Split a piece of wood, and I am there; lift up a rock, and you will find me there.'' To Irenaeus, the thought of the divine energy manifested through all creation, even rocks and logs, sounded dangerously like pantheism. People might end up thinking that they could be like Jesus themselves and, in fact, the Gospel of Philip says, ``Do not seek to become a Christian, but a Christ.'' As Irenaeus read this, it was not mystical language, but ``an abyss of madness, and blasphemy against Christ.''

Worst of all, perhaps, was that many of these secret texts speak of God not only in masculine images, but also in feminine images. The Secret Book of John tells how the disciple John, grieving after Jesus was crucified, suddenly saw a vision of a brilliant light, from which he heard Jesus' voice speaking to him: ``John, John, why do you weep? Don't you recognize who I am? I am the Father; I am the Mother; and I am the Son.'' After a moment of shock, John realizes that the divine Trinity includes not only Father and Son but also the divine Mother, which John sees as the Holy Spirit, the feminine manifestation of the divine.
Elaine Pagels: The truth at the heart of `The Da Vinci Code'
Pagels: from jesus to christ: the story of the storytellers: the gnostic gospels
 
National Geographic links and resources:
The Judas Gospel Home
View the Gospel of Judas Interactive Document (download English and Coptic PDF text)
The Lost Gospel of Judas--Photos, Time Line, Maps--National Geographic
The Judas Gospel: Gnostic background
The National Geographic Online Store - The Gospel of Judas Book
 
More primary sources, manuscript history and links:
The Coptic Ps.Gospel of Judas (Iscariot)

Early Christian Writings: Gospel of Judas

The Nag Hammadi discovery of manuscripts

The Gospel Of Thomas Homepage

Noncanonical Literature
 
Heresy hunters and myths of gnosticism:
Irenaeus: Against Heresies

The Cainites

Catholic Encyclopedia: Gnosticism
 
Pedias:
Gospel of Judas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gospel of Judas - Wikiquote
About: altreligion: Gospel of Judas
 
Review:

Start with a review informed by modern scholarship and views on Gnosticism and its relationship to early Christianity. Relatively in depth consideration of the structure and themes of the GoJ. At least one of the contributors (Lance Jennott) is a Coptic scholar and translates several key words differently from the Nat Geo translation: "seed" for "divine spark" and "race" or "people" for "generation."
Scholars have commonly approached such noncanonical texts as the Nag Hammadi writings by assuming that they presuppose a particular worldview known as Gnosticism. In the newly published edition of the Gospel of Judas, Marvin Meyer and Bart Ehrman both use this approach to interpret the text. Summing up one of the basic tenets of Gnosticism, as he understands it, Ehrman writes: "This world is a cesspool of pain, misery, and suffering, and our only hope of salvation is to forsake it." The cosmos, in this view, is the evil creation of a malevolent lower being, who created humans by trapping sparks of divinity in material bodies; but not everyone has this "divine spark," and only those predestined few who do can be saved. Salvation is not a matter of faith or of ethics, however, but of acquiring spiritual knowledge—gnosis. Finally, according to this interpretation of the Gnostic gospels, Jesus' death has no part in the salvation of humanity, except as an example of how death releases the true self from the body: "In the Gospel of Judas, as in other gnostic gospels, Jesus is primarily a teacher and revealer of wisdom and knowledge, not a savior who dies for the sins of the world."

None of these beliefs is explicitly set out in so-called Gnostic texts, as Ehrman has freely admitted elsewhere,[1] nor do we have any evidence that the authors of these works considered themselves to be "Gnostics," rather than just Christians. Instead, the Gnostic credo is the construction of modern scholars, who have compiled it in part by drawing on the polemics of such critics of heresy as Irenaeus, and in part by creating a synthesis of ideas found in the various Nag Hammadi writings as well as other texts. Such scholarly categorizing can, of course, be useful, and there is no doubt that certain elements of the tenets of "Gnosticism" can be found in some of the Nag Hammadi texts, as well as in the Gospel of Judas itself. However, presupposing a "Gnostic worldview" when approaching these non-canonical texts creates several major, and related, problems. The most obvious is that much gets read into the texts that is not actually there. Another is that the differences between the individual texts become muted, while their differences from the canonical writings are highlighted. This has led to a view of the Nag Hammadi texts as a kind of "anti-canon," a mirror image of the New Testament ("Christianity turned on its head" as Ehrman describes Judas), when it is more productive to view all these early Christian texts as differing positions in the same debate, discordant voices in the same conversation.

...

The understanding that this gospel gives its readers of themselves is complex. Its theology of good and evil is far from a simple, world-hating dualism; one could argue, for example, that it presents a more nuanced universe than the New Testament Gospel of John, with its stark images of darkness and light, divinity versus the devil. The Gospel of Judas teaches its readers that they were created by inferior angels, yet in the divine image of perfect humanity; that they have the potential to reclaim their authentic heavenly identity, and also the potential to die without ever realizing who they really are. Salvation in this text is certainly related to knowledge and revelation, but it is also a matter of ethics. In fact, Judas makes it clear at the beginning that Jesus' mission on earth is to save humanity because "some were walking in the path of righteousness and others in the path of their transgressions." Specific acts are singled out as immoral throughout the gospel, including murder, homosexuality, improper ritual observance, and endorsement of martyrdom. Further, we should all aspire to be members of a race repeatedly described as pious or holy (not wise or "Gnostic").

The New York Review of Books: The Betrayer's Gospel - Iricinschi, Jenott, Townsend (6/8/06)
 
 
Media:

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so.
...
Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics, said in a statement, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was."
...
For that reason, the discoveries have proved deeply troubling for many believers. The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator.
...
Karen L. King, a professor of the history of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, and an expert in Gnosticism who has not yet read the manuscript released today, said that the Gospel of Judas may well reflect the kinds of debates that arose in the second and third century among Christians.
"You can see how early Christians could say, if Jesus's death was all part of God's plan, then Judas's betrayal was part of God's plan," said Ms. King, the author of several books on Gnostic texts. "So what does that make Judas? Is he the betrayer, or the facilitator of salvation, the guy who makes the crucifixion possible?"
"Correctly understood, there's nothing undermining about the Gospel of Judas," Mr. Robinson said in a telephone interview. He said that the New Testament gospels of John and Mark both contain passages that suggest that Jesus not only picked Judas to betray him, but actually encouraged Judas to hand him over to those he knew would crucify him.
'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years - New York Times (3/6/06)

NPR : The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot?
On Point : The Real Judas? (King, Withergton, Meyer)
Online NewsHour: Ancient Text Discovery Depicts Judas as a Loyal Disciple -- April 7, 2006

The Gospel of Judas has genuine historical value—as one of several bits of evidence showing the diversity of early Christianity, like the writings of such figures as Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons in about 180 A.D. The text's depiction of Judas as the disciple to whom Jesus gave unique mystical revelations is not itself really unique. It somewhat resembles the portrayal of Thomas in the Gospel of Thomas. Nor is there evidence that the Gospel of Judas ever enjoyed much popularity as an alternative to the canon of the New Testament or was considered for inclusion in that canon. This text reflects a profoundly elitist viewpoint, claiming a specially conveyed revelation of religious truths withheld from ordinary Christians and their leaders.
The Gospel of Judas. By Larry Hurtado: The text, the scholarship, and the scandal

The finding of the new Gospel, though obviously remarkable as a bit of textual history, no more challenges the basis of the Church’s faith than the discovery of a document from the nineteenth century written in Ohio and defending King George would be a challenge to the basis of American democracy. There are no new beliefs, no new arguments, and certainly no new evidence in the papyrus that would cause anyone to doubt who did not doubt before.
The New Yorker: Adam Gopnik: Jesus Laughed (4/10/06)

I don't think any summarizing sentence on all this could be more wrong than the one written by Adam Gopnik in the latest New Yorker. He states:
The finding of the new Gospel, though obviously remarkable as a bit of textual history, no more challenges the basis of the Church 's faith than the discovery of a document from the nineteenth century written in Ohio and defending King George would be a challenge to the basis of American democracy.
Can Gopnik not discern the difference between George III and Benedict Arnold, let alone the difference between a man-made screed and a series of texts sometimes claimed to be inerrant and divinely inspired? But never mind these trifling failures of analogy. The Judas gospel would make one huge difference if it was accepted. It would dispel the centuries of anti-Semitic paranoia that were among the chief accompaniments of the Easter celebration until approximately 30 years after 1945, when the Vatican finally acquitted the Jews of the charge of Christ-killing. But if Jesus had been acting consistently and seeking a trusted companion who could facilitate his necessary martyrdom, then all the mental and moral garbage about the Jewish frame-up of the Redeemer goes straight over the side.
Why the Gospel of Judas makes sense. By Christopher Hitchens (04/13/06)
 
Scholarly blogs:
NT Gateway Weblog: Gospel of Judas documentary
NT Gateway Weblog: Mark Goodacre: Gospel of Judas megapost

The canonization of the New Testament was a long process that began well before Constantine and ended decisively decades after him. As early as Irenaeus in the 180s, the direct precursors of the 4th cen. orthodox Christianity (whom Bart Ehrman calls the "proto-Orthodox") had already limited the gospels they recognized to the four we know today: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Constantine's political doctrines had nothing to do with the selection of the four or the exclusion of the others (many of which did not circulate widely and were not even known to the proto-Orthodox).
Hypotyposeis: Gospel of Judas in the News (4/7/06)
Accordingly, the Gospel of Judas’s explanation for Judas’s act of betrayal is more like asking a travel agent to book a flight back home than an attempt to wrestle with a puzzle of orthodox Christian theology.
Hypotyposeis: The Gospel of Judas on the Betrayal of Judas (4/10/06)

Hypotyposeis: What the Gospel of Judas Tells Us
Hypotyposeis: Detering on the Gospel of Judas

Again, no scholars are arguing that it was written by Judas. Some think that it may have been composed in Greek as early as the second century. I have my doubts even about that.

This sort of thing is irritating and one wonders how it happens. No one is actually quoted and the article speaks in generalities about "academics," "traditionalists," "sympathizers," and "scholars." Did the writer talk to anyone involved with the project or any expert on the apocryphal gospels? It doesn't sound like it. Is the piece based on a badly misread press release? I don't know.
PaleoJudaica: Judas (1/13/06)

In fact, I know of no biblical scholar who takes the view that the Gospel of Judas is a legitimate historical source for the first century. If any did, the rest of us would laugh them off the stage. The Gospel of Judas is, of course, a very important new source for Gnostic legends and theology of the second century. There were some half-hearted attempts in the media (to their credit, not very many) to try to stir up worry that the Gospel of Judas somehow affected first-century history, but scholars, theologians, and lay people declined to take the bait and insisted on appreciating the text for what it is. I would expect a professor of history to be better informed.
PaleoJudaica: Judas and pseudepigrapha (4/29/06)

I have little other to add that hasn't already been said: "publicity stunt," "we have known about the text ever since Irenaeus" (A.H. I.31), "this particular manuscript has been discussed since Rudolph Kasser delivered a paper on the manuscript in 2004," "Michael van Rijn has followed this story for ages," and "a guy named Roger Pearse has had a site on the manuscript (with images and transcriptions!) for quite some time." All right, a few of those may be new to you. I had actually poked through the images on that last site a week or two before the National Geographic site was launched.
Ekthesis: GJudas: Obligatory Gospel of Judas Nod... (4/10/06)
Ekthesis: GJudas: The Unsettling Conclusion (The Robinson Contribution) (4/17/06)
Ekthesis: GJudas: The Michel van Rijn Angle (4/13/06)

Justin Jenkins provides a nice summary with commentary of Scenes 1 and 2.
While it seems that everyone and their mom are talking about the Gospel of Judas, I’d like to examine some of the text in a rather relaxed style. This isn’t meant to be any sort of in-depth textual analysis, just some passing thoughts as I read over the translation.
Pisteuo: Justin Jenkins’ Weblog » Commentary: Gospel of Judas, Scene 1
Pisteuo: Justin Jenkins’ Weblog » Commentary: Gospel of Judas, Scene 2



Gospel of Judas: Question of authorship (Detering) and Ireneaus on the Cainites : inTerjeCted (6/14/2005)
The Gospel of Judas Redux- a news release+more : inTerjeCted (6/13/2005)
A little more on the Gospel of Judas +diverse reflections : inTerjeCted (6/12/2005
 
BW doubts the existence of earlier Greek version: loan words in Coptic text not convincing. GJ does not mitigate anti-Semitism because "various passages reflect anti-Semitic views of various sorts." "Taken on face value the Gospel of Judas does not promote the feminist agendas of Professor King or the tolerance agendas of Professor Meyer."
When all the hype dies down, what we will be left with is further evidence of an interesting split off movement from early Christianity which began in the second century A.D. and was tolerated for two centuries by the church until the church fathers and mothers had heard quite enough of these fairy tales. In short, it helps us understand post apostolic and Nicene church history better, it tells us nothing about the origins of Christianity or the historical Jesus.
Ben Witherington: The Gospel of Judas-- the NPR Discussion (4/10/06)

. My greater concern is the revisionist history being tauted by Elaine Pagels, Karen King, Bart Ehrman, Marvin Meyer and others, on the basis of such Gnostic documents, wanting to suggest that somehow, someway these documents reflect Christianity at its very point of origin--- the first century A.D.

... We have no first century evidence of Gnostics or Gnosticism. This is a movement that reacted to mainstream Christianity, and emerged from it sometime in the middle of the second century A.D. Every shred of first century evidence we have suggests that the actual physical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was at the heart of the belief of the earliest Christians --- all of whom were Jews, not Gnostics. It simply will not do to suggest that the esoteric Gospel of the Gnostics bears any resemblance to the Jewish creation and redemption theology of Jesus and his first Jewish followers.
Ben Witherington: The Gospel of Judas et al.--- Part One (4/7/06)

GoJ may not be the original Cainite Gnostic document that Irenaeus refers to.
A.J. was also in agreement with me that this document has no material which could or should shake the faith of Christians in what is said in the NT about Jesus and Judas for the very good reason that it comes from a much later source, and one that not even its advocates are really suggesting is written by the historical Judas. In fact it is just another example of the phenomenon known as pseudonymity--- documents with falsely attributed authors--- other such examples are the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, The Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Philip and so on.
Ben Witherington: The Gospel of Judas--- Part Two (4/9/06)
 
 
Other blog reactions:
...Benedict Arnold ...

The Gospel of Judas adds no historical information to the biography of Jesus, but it does provide additional information about the gnostic heresy which thrived in the mid-second century, and which has attracted many adherents today as well.
Volokh Conspiracy: The Judas Gospel

The text, one of several ancient documents found in the Egyptian desert in 1970, was preserved and translated by a team of scholars. It was made public in an English translation by the National Geographic Society.

Religious and lay readers alike will debate the meaning and truth of the manuscript.

But it does show the diversity of beliefs in early Christianity, said Marvin Meyer, professor of Bible studies at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

The text, in the Coptic language, was dated to about the year 300 and is a copy of an earlier Greek version.

A "Gospel of Judas" was first mentioned around A.D. 180 by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, in what is now France. The bishop denounced the manuscript as heresy because it differed from mainstream Christianity. The actual text had been thought lost until this discovery.

Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton University, said, "The people who loved, circulated and wrote down these gospels did not think they were heretics."
Wood Chips and Text Musings: The Gospel of Judas: Another Gnostic Gospel, Part 1

The Gospel of Judas itself has nothing to offer to ordinary Christians, except that it fills in a tiny blank on the map of Christian history. But it offers no new insights into the historical Jesus, nothing for people of orthodox Christian faith. The furor of the Gospel of Judas will be hot and heavy for a few days, and then it will die out.
The Da Vinci Opportunity: Excursus: The Gospel of Judas -- A Special Report
Excursus: Why is Gnosticism Popular Today

I suppose it bears repeating: (1) none of the Gnostic gospels, which date from at least a century after the time of Christ, have any credible claim to provide evidence about the historical Jesus; (2) none of the early New Testament canons ever included any gnostic Gospels, therefore those Gospels could not have been "edited out"; (2) any theological perspective held by grown-ups on the formation of the canon should be able to accommodate both the governing hand of God and the presence of "historical and political forces."

Sigh.
Ralph the Sacred River: Is the Gospel of Judas "Troubling"? (4/06/06)

Gnosticism's intense rejection of Judaism seems to have been overlooked in the modern revisionist rush to anoint the Gnostics as a "healthy corrective" to orthodox Christianity. If the Gnostic version of Christianity had prevailed, Judaism might not have survived.
Ralph the Sacred River: Gnosticism and the Jews (4/17/06)

What the documentary successfully shows is that the early Christian faith is rich and diverse and not "one" with a set of beliefs as we do now. There are some, like me, who would like to read more on what was NOT included and see if these do make me question or even leave my faith. I would like to be able to think for myself, believing that if my faith is strong enough to withstand questioning ("assault" is a term that others often use), then it is a faith worth "keeping."

In the end, National Geopgraphic offers that instead of being occupied in "thinking" what to believe in, one should ask oneself why we believe the things we do.
Redefining Me: Designs of Betrayal and the Sign of Faith

So, we’re seeing the rather fallacious conclusion that Gnosticism = Gospel of Judas. Now, a good number of individuals have been bending over backwards trying to prove that Gnosticism, and by proxy the Gospel of Judas, is somehow anti-semitic. I often wonder whether these individuals red the same Gospel of Judas I did, which doesn’t really come across as anti-semitic whatsoever without some interesting hermeneutic acrobatics which probably say more about the person doing the reading than the content of the Gospel. Nonetheless, this is a terribly common misconception about the Gnostics, who, on the whole, were far less anti-semitic than their canonical brethren. Lest we forget, a substantial portion of the surviving Gnostic texts were composed by Jewish Gnostics. That they were included within collections along with Christian Gnostic texts indicates an openness among at least some Gnostic groups to Judaism. In some cases, it may be a possibility that the ostensibly Judaic Gnostics were even *too Jewish* for Gentile Christian orthodoxy of the time!
fantastic planet » Gospel of Judas: Judas, Gnosticism and Anti-semitism

Hang around here long enough, and I’ll bring up fantasist and poet Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favorite short story authors. Recent discussions on the Gnostic apocryphal Gospel of Judas reminded me of a story Borges published in 1944: “Three Versions of Judas.”
Balls and Walnuts - dig the frog » Life imitates art: Borges on Judas

There will always be perversions of the Gospel by those who would proclaim another gospel and another way to salvation except through the narrow door of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That’s why we have to be on our toes. Heresies are like viruses. They never really go away. They only go into remission, waiting for an opportune time to flare up again. In these grey and latter days, we can expect the gnostic virus to flare up with a vengeance, along with every other way people have invented to deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and to scandalize the little ones of faith. Have no fear. Jesus has overcome the world and its religion. And that’s no secret.
Rev. Cwirla's Blogosphere - The Gospel of Judas?

Yawn.
Hanging the Gospel of Judas
 
Non-orthodox commentary:
The Cosmic Drama of Christ would be impossible to represent without the role of Judas; this apostle is then the most exalted Adept, the most elevated amongst all of the apostles of the Christ Jesus. - Samael Aun Weor (1973)

Judas symbolizes a very specific aspect of the consciousness. To comprehend Judas in his full symbolic depth requires Meditation. The Intellect is simply too shallow and redundant to grasp the full impact of any spiritual truth, and Judas, who on the surface appears diabolic, escapes easy definition.
Gnosis - The Practical Gnosticism of Samael Aun Weor - The Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas, as I've said above, probably contains no new information about the historical Jesus and his disciples. Nonetheless it is of great importance in the ongoing Christian debate because, in a roundabout way, it reminds us that the gospel stories in the New Testament are themselves not monolithic. But also this gospel will likely prod many otherwise incurious Christians to go and read something about Gnosticism. And when they read about the strange new Gnostic doctrine, only new in that they haven't encountered it before, maybe some small minority of them will realize that much in their accepted orthodox doctrine is strange also, and maybe this will lead them to begin the work of questioning where the truth may lie in all this. They will ask the great question at the base of all serious interpretation: What does it (all) mean?
Eric Mader: Contrarian Thoughts on the Gospel of Judas (4/06)

The public release of The Gospel of Judas is creating waves across the world, making major news headlines and causing a storm of controversy. The long-held view of Judas as a villain is already crumbling away despite the Church’s embarrassed attempts to downplay the discovery, as new sayings of Jesus come to light – sayings in which Judas’ real character is revealed …
“You will become the apostle cursed by all others, Judas, you will sacrifice this body of man which clothes me.” “You will become the 13th, and you will be cursed by the other generations – and you will come to rule over them.” “It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal.”
These incredible sayings are finally revealing that Judas actually had a divine mission – he took the role of the villain, appointed to him by Jesus himself, in an epic drama that would captivate an audience of billions. Along with the other disciples, who each played their part, they enacted a magnificent teaching in living flesh – a teaching that demonstrates the real path to salvation.

Few people realise that each of the events of Jesus’ life symbolise something far deeper and more powerful than a series of physical and historical events that happened to one person. In reality, his life is a drama that each spiritually prepared person goes through within themselves, as they walk the spiritual path – the trials they are put through, the spiritual faculties they acquire, the initiations they receive, the inner death and life. Jesus therefore, showed not only his disciples what they each needed to go through in order to attain enlightenment, but all people of the world. Jesus asked people to follow him, not worship him.
Gnosticjudas: Discovery of Ancient Gospel Shatters Long-held View of Judas: So who is the real villain?

While orthodoxy is trying to preserve the purity of Christianity from contamination by Gnosticism, John Lash defends Gnosticism from assimilation to early Christianity and Judiasm. Lash places the roots of Gnosticism in the Pagan Mysteries, especially Sophian illuminism, and questions the "Gnostic" character of the GoJ precisely because of its "body-prison-escape model."
I will merely point out that the body-prison-escape model cannot be identified as a genuine Gnostic teaching. (The refutation of this model, which I rigorously uphold, has been extensively developed by Gnostic scholar Michael Allen Williams in Rethinking 'Gnosticism'). Insofar as the Gospel of Judas underscores this model, as it seems to do, it may not be genuinely Gnostic at all.
...
People through the centuries may have been convinced by the claim that the Father God achieves his grand plan for humanity through betrayal, and some people in this confused world of ours today may also be convinced. But the Gnostic message is a true heresy (from Greek heresthai, "to choose,") that offers another choice, an alternative view. Gnostic teachings on the false creator god, identified with Jehovah, contain the explicit warning not to believe in His plan because it is a "scheme designed against us, to prevent us seeing its error and its senselessness" (Treat Seth 55.10). Faith in God's plan "is what keeps humanity going round and round seeking what it cannot find, because those who seek in this way do not know their true humanity in the first place" (Ibid., 53.12-17).

Gnostic teachings are unique in the theological exposé of the imposter god who betrays humanity—who is none other than the revered Father God of Judaic-Christian-Islamic tradtion. The Gnostic heretics were not early Christians with a diversity of Christian-friendly beliefs. They were Pagan seers and intellectuals radically opposed to Judeo-Christian salvationist faith. Above all, they were concerned about how humanity betrays itself through belief in an off-planet deity with a divine plan that demands racial and ideological segregation, an inhumane standard of perfection, genocidal aggression, betrayal, torture and murder, and supernatural retribution for evil deeds sanctioned by the very god who condemns them.

Betrayed by false beliefs in God, humanity betrays itself ...
Metahistory.org: John Lash: The Faith That Betrays (4/8/2006)

MetaHistory - Approaching Gnosticism
A Reading Plan for the Nag Hammadi Library
The Message of Judas: Gnostic Angles in the Gospel of Judas

Gurdjeiff, Fourth Way:
In Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson, Gurdjieff repeats this and takes it a little further, transforming the figure of Judas into a loyal disciple who sacrificed himself to save Christ’s mission.
An Anthology of Material on Esoteric Christianity from Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, Collin, Pogson, Mouravieff et al

Esoteric understanding, psychohistorical/developmental perspective (note point about Anthropos):
Yes, some will hold on to the hope that the surfacing of the 'Gospel of Judas', will in no way undermine business as usual on planet Earth. But nevertheless, one would have to be fairly dis-associated from reality to not see this as a triumph in the progressive undermining of the religious mind, the egoic mind and of all the organizations based on our very limited mental capacities. It is clearly a sound-byte of the Apocalypse (an uncovering of the Light). Apparently these scholars think that our current limited understanding of God and the Bible is not one of the structures marked for absolute destruction in the Apocalypse. We might do well to consider that our ongoing Apocalypse is rather bent on destroying everything about us that is organized around the absolute ignorance of our 'own star' (or soul) as Jesus put it. That should be good news right? After all the word 'Gospel' does mean 'good news'.

Encouraging Judas to betray him, Jesus said: 'But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice THE MAN that clothes me.'

People are thinking so very small when they interpret this to mean that Jesus wants to accomplish shedding his Earthly body and returning to the Light. In terms of the Evolutionary perspective, presented in its purest form by Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Patrizia Norelli-Bachlet, Jesus was talking about the MAN - as in US - as in THIS temporary phase of Humanity. Jesus (via the author of the text) basically tells us that he is playing a divine joke on humanity. He tells Judas fairly clearly that by enacting his crucifixion, he would intentionally plant the seed of the dissolution of Man (Mental Man), in order to make way for THAT Generation or the Supramental Race as spoken of by Sri Aurobindo, which Jesus knew was coming in a future aeon or age.
The Gospel of Judas from the Perspective of Integral Yoga

Zodiac References in the Gospel of Judas
Letter to the NYT
Judas, Scorpio and the Last Supper
 
General News links:
The chronological progression of the allegations is crucial. St Paul, the earliest Christian writer, never mentions Judas. The Gospel of St Mark (finished in about AD79) devotes just 169 words to him; St John’s Gospel, however, written at the end of the first century, when Christianity and Judaism were at bitter loggerheads, portrays him as a demonic criminal, in 489 damning words. Christianity needed a Jewish hate figure, a symbolic Jew rejecting Christianity, on which to hang the crime of crimes: Judas fitted the bill, and was duly fitted up.
Blamed, framed and defamed. Three good reasons to free the Judas One - Comment - Times Online (1/13/06)

Yet by 150, most experts agree, a "Gospel" said more about the group that produced it than about the facts of Jesus' life and death or even the understandings of his earliest followers. Beyond marveling at the variety of Christian belief prior to doctrinal housecleaning by the early church, an average believer should not find Judas faith shaking.
TIME.com: A Kiss for Judas -- Feb. 27, 2006

An expert on ancient Egyptian texts is predicting that the "Gospel of Judas" — a manuscript from early Christian times that's nearing release amid widespread interest from scholars — will be a dud in terms of learning anything new about Judas.
‘Gospel of Judas’ stirs scholarly spat - Science - MSNBC.com (3/3/06)

So far, only a handful of inner-circle scholars are familiar with the contents of the Gospel of Judas. Despite the enticing name, experts say it was written at least a century after Judas Iscariot died, so it's apt to be most interesting to academics who concentrate on second-century gnosticism, Robinson says. Gnosticism is a belief system, deemed heretical by early Christian leaders, that preaches salvation via self-knowledge. Some of its followers lionized biblical figures of disrepute.
A gospel's rocky path from Egypt's desert to print | csmonitor.com (3/7/06)

An ancient manuscript written in Egypt in 300AD purports to show that Judas Iscariot was not the betrayer who sold Jesus to his enemies for 30 pieces of silver, as the bible says.

The apocryphal account of the last days of Jesus's life portrays Judas as a loyal disciple, who followed Jesus's orders in handing him over to the authorities and thus allowed him to fulfil the biblical prophecies of saving mankind.
Judas did not betray Jesus, lost gospel claims - Times Online (4/6/06)

Some religious experts, like Bart Ehran (sic), believe that this discovery may show that Judas's treachery is all a misunderstanding. "This gospel portrays the act as far from nefarious, but as, in fact, the greatest thing that Judas could do for Jesus," Ehran (sic), a religious scholar at North Carolina Chapel Hill, told CTV.

"This looks like the writing of some follower of Jesus who was a dissident, in a way, who thought most of the leaders were on the wrong track. It sounds like a minority report to me," Princeton religion professor, Elaine Pagels, told CTV.
CTV.ca | Gospel of Judas casts doubt on traditional beliefs (04/06/06)

Huskisson said the Christian world is being bombarded with theories "that are intent on veering us off orthodox teachings." "It's to get us to argue and miss what the message ought to be — on Christ."
Ozark News-Leader.com Judas text: gospel or spin? (4/27/06)

Archbishop Aguer noted that the contents of the “gospel of Judas” “have been known for at least 1800 years” and the text has always been considered part of the apocryphal writings of “a Gnostic sect where Christian truths, philosophical doctrines and, most especially, oriental mysteries were all mixed together, and the Church condemned it rapidly.
Indian Catholic: Gospel of Judas’: an ideological attack against the Church (05/03/06)

Then Craig Evans, a Bible expert from Canada, said, "I don't think it tells us anything about the historical Judas, the historical Jesus or the factors at work in the first century that led to Jesus' death."

But "it's impossible to know that," countered Elaine Pagels of Princeton University, who popularizes the texts the early church rejected and emphasizes the diversity of competing Christian groups in the second and third centuries. That variety has long been known, but Pagels wants the orthodox church's choice of four Gospels to seem narrow and arbitrary.
Does 'Gospel of Judas' really tell us anything? (04/29/06)

Without question, the canon is closed and all the information needed to know God and live as He requires is contained therein. Those who either promote or embrace some extra-biblical revelation such as the Gospel of Judas betray the truth, even as the real Judas Himself did, and crucify the Son of God afresh.
The Gospel of Judas: A betrayal of the truth (4/20/06)

God the Father loves you and desires to have a relationship with you so much that he sent His only Son, Jesus who lived a perfect life, died and rose again for you so that you can have eternal life if you accept Him. This relationship is given as a free gift, not by your good works or secret Gnostic knowledge, but by simply believing in Jesus (John 3:16).
Royal Gazette Another look at the 'Gospel of Judas' (4/28/06)

There is, of course, a third possibility: Neither the Gospel of Judas nor the New Testament account concerning Judas is historically reliable. That is the position of many critical New Testament scholars. And, indeed, there are good reasons to doubt the historicity of the varying accounts of Judas' acts as described in the New Testament gospels ...

The less we're reminded of the New Testament Judas, the better. I don't mean to suggest that there is an anti-Semite under every green leaf, but for Jews there is nothing to be gained from a public focus on Judas.
Jerusalem Post | Hershel Franks: No salvation in Judas (5/1/06)

The central thrust of the gospel is that it's from Judas' perspective and reflects a gnostic view. Here, Judas is transformed from history's most famous traitor to Jesus' best-loved disciple and friend, a hero who helps Jesus return to the realm of the divine, by fingering him for arrest and crucifixion. He does so because Jesus asks him to.

New Testament believers will surely find this gospel hard to swallow. Early church leaders such as St. Irenaeus discredited the Judas gospel as heresy, and history forgot it - until today. But scholars believe that it will contribute to our understanding of early Christianity.
JS Online:Transfixed by story of Judas gospel (4/28/06)

This subject shouldn't be easily dismissed, but it's not something we should dwell on. An unproven claim is no basis for discounting the authority of Scripture.
Baylor University: Gospel of Judas discovery doesn't discredit Christianity (4/20/06)

The biblical Jesus and the biblical Gospels stand heads and shoulders above all counterfeits and cheap copies and distortions of the original. The media feeding frenzy notwithstanding, Bible-believing Christians can be grateful that the publication of the Gospel of Judas has made this even clearer than it was before.
Biblical Foundations » The Gospel of Judas: A Villain Rehabilitated? (4/10/06)

Does this gospel put in jeopardy the credibility of our four canonical Gospels? The answer is an emphatic “No!”

If Christ wanted Judas to betray Him, why is Judas guilty for doing the will of God? No, like Cain, he committed his sacrilege through his own free choice. We must not confound the prescience of God. That He knows what will happen does not diminish our freedom to chose good or evil according to our own intentions.
The B.C. Catholic Newspaper - Editorial: The Gospel of Judas ‘Much ado about nothing’ (5/1/06)

Whatever comes of the gospel of Judas, things may be looking up for the traitorous disciple ... according to a story in the Times, the Vatican is making moves to clear his name ...
Perspective: The Gospel of Judas (3/15/06)

The Christian Church limited the recognised gospels to the four in 325, under the guidance of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine. Thirty other texts - some of which have been uncovered - were sidelined because "they were difficult to reconcile with what Constantine wanted as a political doctrine," according to Roberty. The foundation's director said the Judas Iscariot text called into question some of the political principles of Christian doctrine. It could also to some extent rehabilitate Judas, whose name has often come to symbolise the accusation of deicide - God-killing - levelled by some Christian teachings against the Jewish people, he added.
Middle East Online Gospel of Judas back in spotlight after 20 centuries (3/30/06)

One of the ways in which we now celebrate the great Christian festivals in our society is by a little flurry of newspaper articles and television programmes raking over the coals of controversies about the historical basis of faith. So it was no huge surprise to see a fair bit of coverage given a couple of weeks ago to the discovery of a ‘Gospel of Judas’, which was (naturally) going to shake the foundations of traditional belief by giving an alternative version of the story of the passion and resurrection. Never mind that this is a demonstrably late text which simply parallels a large number of quite well-known works from the more eccentric fringes of the early century Church; this is a scoop, the real, ‘now it can be told’ version of the origins of Christian faith.
Global South Anglican: Archbishop Rowan Williams: Sermon for Easter Day: Gospel of Judas demonstrably late text

In the end, Judas wanted a God of his own making, an avenging God who would serve justice by tossing out the hated occupiers and restoring the fortunes of the people of Israel. What Judas got was very different: a suffering God who accepted a shameful death on a cross. Tragically, Judas didn't stick around to see what happened on Easter morning.

The Gospel of Judas will continue to be fodder for television shows, magazine covers, and lunchtime conversations. But the answer to the question raised every Good Friday remains the same. Why did Judas do it? Because Judas, like many of us, wanted to make God in his own image -- rather than the other way around.

The Rev. James Martin is author of ''My Life With the Saints."
No revelations in Gospel of Judas - Boston Globe (4/11/06)

The Gospel of Judas is linked to a group called the Gnostics, who believed that the way to salvation was through secret knowledge given by Jesus to his inner circle.

Gnostic texts include various manuscripts attributed to figures mentioned in the canonical gospels as well, such as Mary Magdalene and the apostle Thomas, as well as philosophical treatises with heavy Greek or Jewish influences. Scholars say the manuscripts were written by believers who gradually lost out as the early Christian church became institutionalized.
‘Gospel of Judas’ offers contrarian view of Jesus - Science - MSNBC.com (4/7/06)

In anti-Roman Judaea such an act was betrayal and its perpetrator was a despicable collaborator. When Luke (vi, 16) refers to Judas as a prodotês or “traitor”, instead of using the more subtle “he who handed him over” (Matthew x, 4; Mark iii, 19), he simply calls a spade a spade. It is a red herring to maintain that “betraying” is a mistranslation. In the story of Judas “handing over” always carries a pejorative overtone.
Iscariot and the dark path to the Field of Blood - Geza Vermes - Times Online (04/08/06)

James M. Robinson, America's leading expert on such ancient religious texts from Egypt, predicts in a new book that the text won't offer any insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His reason: While it's old, it's not old enough. "Does it go back to Judas? No," Robinson told The Associated Press on Thursday.
ABC News: Expert Doubts 'Gospel of Judas' Revelation: Won't Reveal Anything About Jesus' Infamous Disciple (3/2/06)

Pope Benedict XVI is trying to combat efforts to rehabilitate Christianity's most hated villain after the presentation this month of a newly discovered "gospel according to Judas".

In his first Easter sermon at St Peter's Basilica, the German pope said the 12th apostle was a greedy liar: "He evaluated Jesus in terms of power and success. For him, only power and success were real. Love didn't count."
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Pope denounces 'greedy liar' Judas (4/15/06)

Nashville, Tenn. (BP)--The gospel of Judas is helpful in understanding early church heresy but should be viewed as false writings and not comparable to the biblical Gospels, conservative scholars say.

"[I]t reminds us that the early church was built on Scripture, and that heretics like the Gnostics were a real threat to the Gospel ... and that present-day heretics will continue to use such a document to attack the very same inerrant Scriptures that God has given," McMullen said. "But the real truth is that Gnostic ideas will forever remain at an infinite distance from the truth of the biblical Gospel."
Orthodox scholars: gospel of Judas not a Christian document - (BP) (4/13/06)

Bart Ehrman, chairman of the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, theorized that maybe all Judas was guilty of was "spilling the beans" about Jesus' true intentions. "Jesus ends up being put on trial and condemned to death for calling himself the king of the Jews," an act of treason, Ehrman said. "That's interesting because Jesus never actually called himself that. Is it possible that Judas actually gave some insider information to the authorities so they can have a reason to kill him?"

Judas receives the harshest treatment in John's Gospel. There, he is portrayed as a Satan-possessed thief. Kim Paffenroth, a professor of religious studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., and author of "Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple," said Judas--whose name literally means "Jewish man"--eventually came to represent all Jews in this account.

"You can't say that the Gospel of John caused (Christian notions of anti-Semitism), but I'd say maybe it planted the seeds for it," he said. Whatever his motivation, Judas remains a type of theological Rorschach test. Looking at him, it's easy to ask what he says about us, and maybe more important, what he says about God.
beliefnet: Kevin Eckstrom: Did Judas Get a Bum Rap?

In short, the "Gospel of Judas" tells us nothing about the historical Jesus or Judas; it adds next to nothing to our knowledge of early Gnosticism or of sectarian Christianity; and it actually adds very little indeed that was not already known from texts published a century or more ago. And this is "one of the greatest historical discoveries of the twentieth century"?
beliefnet: Philip Jenkins: All Gospels Are Not Created Equal (3/06/06)

Gnostics also upheld a notion imported from Greek philosophy, one in which Hindus believe today. They disdained the physical body and thought that we needed to be liberated from it. But when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, He was resurrected in bodily form. He even invited Thomas to touch the wounds on His hands, feet, and side. The Gospel of Judas has Jesus telling Judas to betray Him, thus more quickly liberating Him from His body. Orthodox Christian faith, consistent with Old Testament teaching, has never disdained the human body, seeing it as part of God's good creation. Furthermore, we believe that one day all believers in Christ will be resurrected in bodily form under the power of the One Who made heaven and earth.

So, there's nothing new in the Gospel of Judas...and nothing particularly useful in it, beyond satisfying a certain historical curiosity.
Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels: What About the 'Gospel of Judas'?: A First, Brief Consideration (3/06/06)

Indeed, logic & common sense, serious and objective comparative document scholarship, and academic integrity are quickly thrown out the window in favor of sensationalism, an unsubstantiated and academically abject attack on Judeo-Christian orthodoxy, and an abandonment of factual reality in a world that as Jesus said is a world that is truly “in the power of the wicked one “. This is particularly true in cases where there is a quick buck to me made even at the expense of reality.

J. Jacob Prasch
The Gospel of Judas - Moriel Ministries

Rome: The Gospel of Judas was unimportant to most Christians when it was written hundreds of years ago and it is unimportant today, said a Jesuit scholar, who has convoked a series of ecumenical studies of the historical Jesus.

Jesuit Father Gerald O'Collins, a longtime professor of Christology at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University, said the text, like the gospels of Mary Magdalene and Philip, "does not merit the name 'gospel.'"
Gospel of Judas does not deserve name ‘gospel,’ Jesuit scholar says - Catholic Online (4/7/06)

The NGS special gave the impression that there were a variety of competing Christianities in the first century? Is that true?

From the very beginning, there was one Christianity. It began with the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth and became encapsulated and disseminated by the twelve apostles who spent three years with Jesus in his public ministry.
Talbot School of Theology: Talbot News: Biola Responds to The Gospel of Judas

Rodolphe Kasser, who translated the 1,700-year-old Gospel of Judas, tells swissinfo that the Church's rejection of the manuscript smacks of "intellectual laziness".

Both the Catholic and Anglican Churches have been quick to dismiss the text, which depicts Judas as one of Jesus's favoured disciples and not the reviled figure of the New Testament.

Swissinfo: Pope Benedict XVI also insisted last week that Judas was a traitor...

R.K.: It was a rather stupid response to say that this new text confirms the idea that Judas betrayed Jesus through love of power and money. That's not the case at all.

Judas is presented as someone who wants to know more. That's what Gnosticism is about: it is knowledge that brings salvation, and false beliefs that prevent man from developing. The Bible itself is not opposed to this.

swissinfo: Is the Church's reaction motivated by fear?

R.K.: It is motivated by intellectual laziness. People don't want to change what they have always believed. I noticed this reaction among people in the town of Yverdon where I live. Someone I know well told me they were against this new discovery because they didn't like the idea of Jesus and Judas plotting together.

swissinfo - Expert damns Church response to Judas gospel (4/22/06)
 
 
The dark background of the manuscript, Van Rijn, Ferrini:
Ohio.com | 04/18/06 | Worn pages tell a tale (Bruce Ferrini)
Michael Van Rijn: The hunt for the Gospel of Judas
Michael Van Rijn: The Gospel of Judas - Chronological Order
Gospel of Judas: negotiation emails 1
Papyri Sold on Ebay Oct-Dec 2005
Biblical Studies Blogs: post from Lee Biondi (ref Ferrini, Van Rijn)