In the last article I presented an overview of the Gospel of Judas, based upon chapter six of Ehrman’s book: The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot. I realize now that I should have included some kind of response and compared the contents to orthodox Christianity.
1. What does the ‘Gospel of Judas’ actually teach?
The ‘Gospel’ teaches that there are many gods-”among all those called God.” Jesus in this document makes fun of the disciples for praying a prayer of thanksgiving over their food to “their God”. This writing makes it clear that the other 11 Apostles are worshiping a lesser god who created the earth & imprisoned humanity in physical bodies. The highest immortal realm, the Pleroma, is said to be ruled by Barbelo (feminine), and the ‘Great One’ is an invisible spirit who is above and beyond “all those called God”.
Salvation comes through having special knowledge that gives one power to overcome this physical life. According to this ‘gospel’, only those humans who have a special ‘spark’ or spirit may receive the special knowledge and be saved. Judas is the only one of the twelve who has the special ‘spark’ and the only one that Jesus gives the special knowledge to. The other Apostles will continue to worship a lesser god and lead their followers astray.
2. Does the teaching square with the four NT Gospels of the first century?
No, definitely not. The content of the document does not represent the prevailing theology of Judah & Galilee of the first century. Jesus and his disciples were Jews who believed in one God & one creator of all things–they were monotheistic. Jesus and the early Christian leaders, had a high regard for the Hebrew Scriptures, and considered themselves to be a continuation of the ancient Hebrew religion. The four recognized Gospels reflect this understanding.
The ‘Judas’ document teaches that the other 11 Apostles were wrong and presents to us a polytheistic ‘mystery’ religion–a different religion entirely. Notice also that only a few ‘special’ people who have the ‘spark’ and the knowledge can be saved. The four Gospels of the NT present a ‘good news’ of salvation which is potentially for all people. This is why early Christian leaders, like Iranaeus, rejected the so-called ‘Gospel of Judas’ and called it heretical.