Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.
Judas - My Favorite Apostle
So not many people these days like Judas. I mean there was the whole 30 pieces of silver thing, and the betrayal, and of course the moral obligation not to kill off the messiah... but was he really that bad of a guy? I admit, I've always been far more interested in villains then heroes in any story from the fairy tales I grew up with to the modern literature that eases my nerves today. They just seem to be more layered as individuals, more psychoses, more motivation, more delicious details. However I was surprised to find on my wayward travels that Judas didn't fit this profile at all. Far from being a villain he seems, at least in my opinion, to be a misunderstood hero of sorts. Before you start sending hate mail let me explain and at least give the poor guy a chance. Christian love mandates you should.
The Familiar Story
Most Catholics and Christians are undivided on how to take the story of Judas. For those of you who have lived under a rock for your entire lives and have not heard the story I'll reiterate. Usually the good part of the story starts when Jesus is at the last supper, surrounded by all his male apostles, with no one else in the room, and everyone seated bizarrely on one side of the table (OK so the Bible doesn't say that but the popular art seems to.) They're all eating their dinner, the prefuneral game if you will, when Jesus throws a bomb into casual conversation, claiming someone at the table will betray him. I'm sure everyone probably stopped chewing at this point, looking up and wondering how he'd know this. Because he's a God-man, that's why. Makes total sense.
So Judas took a brisk walk that evening until he comes across a soldier. He says, "Yo soldier! I got someone for you!" after which he walked away with 30 new shiny pieces of silver.
The rest of the story is history. We all know what happened to poor God-man. It wasn't pretty. Meanwhile people back home are getting a bit fidgety about Judas. They want his blood. And dangling from a nice big tree Judas is finally found, swaying in the breeze. Forever after he was damned for all eternity the traitor! But did he really deserve it?
The Historians Take on Judas
For a long time historians, who generally are booed and hissed at by "real" Christians, have said there's a lot missing in the last supper story. Many have claimed for decades that Judas was probably Jesus' brother. Brother, you say, how can Jesus have brothers from a virgin mommy? Simple, once a virgin does not mean permanently a virgin. The Bible says Jesus had four brothers and doesn't mention any sisters (but since women and girls are inferior creatures they wouldn't have been mentioned even if he had eighty of them.) One of his brother's name was indeed Judas. This is where Historians start bickering. There's no passage saying, "Oh, and by the way Judas the traitor is the same as Judas Jesus' brother." But it's not that much of a stretch to think, "hmmmm Judas... Judas... They're probably the same dude, huh?"
So if Judas was Jesus' brother why then would he go third-person homicidal on him? Could this be the worse case of sibling rivalry ever? No, nothing beats dear old Cain and Abel. So what then? What was it?
The Gnostic Take on Judas
Not so long ago some very lucky people stumbled upon a lost text, The Book of Judas. This is where the story gets really interesting. Historians tell us the Bible was actually a whole bunch of different texts that was edited to a fraction the size it was originally. One of the lost pieces was The Book of Judas, a whole book that the early church decided wasn't good for their congregation to know about. However there was a small branch of Christians, the Gnostics, who were the radicals of the Christian world. They kept the text and taught it through the generations until it was lost (due to the Catholic influence at the time.)
So what was in the Book of Judas? A totally different look at the last supper story. Not only does it say Judas wasn't history's worst bastard, it actually says he was the most important apostle, not Peter like the Catholic church (which he created) claimed! The new version of the story goes something like this.
One night Jesus brought Judas outside under the evening stars and he says, "Judas, you really grok me. The rest of my apostles are idiots. They get some of what I say but only you get the message within the message. Yours is the only mind which can hold all I have to say and get it!" To which Judas probably humbly nodded. "Judas, I am going to ask you do something. Something horrible that will damn you for all eternity."
"Oh?" Says Judas a bit startled.
"No one's going to join my religion if I die of old age in a hut somewhere."
"No, what my religion needs is something that packs a more powerful punch."
"Like a martyr!"
"You're not going to ask me to be a martyr are you?"
"Well yes, but no. I'll be the first martyr and you'll be the one who'll turn me in! Because you get me. I would have no one else to be my killer."
"You want me to have someone kill you?"
"Yes. And then I will be free of this goddamn body that chains me to this world and so will you."
"You. You'll have to ditch your body as well."
"Yes, you'll have to hang yourself and since the other apostles are idiots and will never get that this was all planned you will be considered for all history the betrayer of God's holy son."
"Weeeeell, I suppose. I have nothing better to do." And just like that history was made. Christians spread across the earth like a plague and Jesus and Judas both got to ditch their earthly bodies (which in Gnostic terms was a good thing.)
Now, I admit my retelling of the story is very loose as I'm pretty sure Jesus never used the word grok or dispelled his plans for world domination after death, however the rest is indeed in there somewhere. Judas really was the chosen one, really did get Jesus like no one else did, and really was only doing what Jesus asked him to do. Does that make him a bastard or the most loyal follower of them all? I think poor Judas has gotten a bum rap for way too long. Personally, I like the guy. He had pluck.
For those of you who are intrigued (or who think I'm making this all up) feel free to read an article on the real translation of The Gospel of Judas.
More from this Author:
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Deranged Thoughts from a Cluttered Mind - For funny personal anecdotes
Pedro Morales on April 19, 2018:
From my understanding the Gospel of Judas was written about 300 A.D. By that time it is hard to give a credible testimony to the live of Jesus. Moreover, by that time many different groups came up with strange ideas of who was Jesus and what he came to do.
To me the book of Judas answers the question of why, if Jesus came to die, the disciple who hands Jesus over to the authorities is perceived as evil? He would have been the only one trying to help Jesus accomplish God's will.
But that argument only shows that we need to question the very assumptions we have had about the crucifixion of Jesus. Did he really come to die? In that case not only would Judas would have been the best disciple but he would have more obedient than Jesus himself. Why? Because throughout the entire first year or two of his ministry Jesus only worked trying to have people believe in him.. In fact in the gospel of John Jesus says that the works of God is to believe in him whom God has sent: Jesus. Had people believed in Jesus they would not have crucified him.
Deborah Sexton on July 15, 2014:
Jesus could see through the traitor Judas from the start. He was a thief and a liar and followed Jesus for the money.
Judas Iscariot “was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it”.
John 12:4, 5, 6
4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him,
5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
He listened to the voice of Satan, but he was a good guy,
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
rick on May 28, 2014:
Maybe people on this site can do what no one else has been able to do: understand that Judas is (the) Messiah. For just as he belonged to a brotherhood of 12, and then became separated from the others who hated him, so too it befell the patriarch, Jacob's favorite son, Joseph. But in the case of Joseph, God ended up by turning to good the evil that his brothers had thought to do him, so, as it is written, that many people could be saved alive. And when God turns to good the evil that the 'brothers' of Judas have thought to do him, The Messianic Age will begin. And you can help hasten the day.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 05, 2013:
I am not mad at anyone, not even the Bible, just curious and perplexed as to why you would have started this comment thread if it was just going to wind around into seeming nothingness... but that's nothing to be frustrated about. It happens sometimes. I'd also like to note this article is educational, yes, but I wrote it in satirical tone. It was meant to make people laugh, not scream. An observation.
Deborah Sexton on October 04, 2013:
I was posting scripture. If that scripture judges him or causes you to, well that's not me.
Everything I posted was scripture so you'll have to be mad at the Bible for saying what it does because I didn't write it.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 04, 2013:
...And if you are not supposed to judge either way then what was the point of commenting? You obviously judge him as evil. I judge him as human, neither good or evil, just.... human, capable of mistakes and misunderstanding just like all of us.
Also I am not a Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or any other monotheistic believer. I do not regard the Bible or any of the scriptures, new or old, as anything more than fables written by men a long long time ago to illustrate the ways in which they believed we should live life, no different than say Aesop. Sure, his stories were about animals who talked, that no one believed actually existed, but they provided valuable moral lessons we carry into our adulthood. Judas... he may have been real or a complete work of fiction. I'm not one to say and to be perfectly honest I don't really care either way. I put no more emotional investment in Judas than I do the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Sincerely yours in blasphemy and disbelief.
Deborah Sexton on October 04, 2013:
I am Jewish and don't even believe in the N.T. I was correctly interpreting scripture.
When you say judge not what you are saying is don't judge if it is negative.
You are not suppose to judge someone as "good" either, it's still judgement.
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 04, 2013:
You do not seem to realize the scriptures were highly edited - by mortal men with political desires. They cut a large swath of stories down to whatever they deemed useful to them and banned all other scriptures that they felt might be threatening to their power. That's why we have scriptures hidden away like the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Judas. People at the time still wanted to keep believing in ALL the scriptures, not just the ones the men in power wanted them to know.
Mathew 7. Judge not lest ye be judged.
John 8:7 - Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Deborah Sexton on October 03, 2013:
Let's see what the scriptures say about him.
He was a thief
6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.
Jesus Rebuked Judas and he became angry
7. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always
He then went to betray Yahshua
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him
According to scripture
After Yahshua (Jesus) rebuked him he got angry and went out to betray him, he wanted him dead just because he rebuked him... which led to Yahshua’s death and you all feel bad for him?
Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on April 10, 2012:
Judas and James are two of the four brothers Jesus had.
We seem to forget that Mary the mother of Jesus was married with Joseph. They we husband and wife. And you're right, just because Jesus was an Imaculate conception by God, it doesn't mean that she had to remain a Virgin all her life.
As for your take on the Bible, The Roman Emperor Constantine who is known for persecuting Christians and ordering them crucified and or martyred in the arena of Rome, realized that Rome was declining as a nation and desiring to be remembered as famous instead of infamous, actually became a Christian. It was through Emperor Constantine that the Roman Catholic Church gets started and the Catholic version of the Holy Bible gets written which includes the sixty-six books as we know it, plus seven more books in the Old Testament. Roman Catholicism is a man invented "Religion" not God Created "Religion" and Catholicism borrows the Bible and Teachings of Christianity and adopts it as a part of itself.
The proof of this is that the Religious Dogma and teachings and regulations of Catholicism have absolutely no scriptural basis whatsoever, plus they choose to take scripture and twist it saying this is what scripture says and means, when it doesn't.
twentyyearmom from Kentucky on November 19, 2011:
Just watched the National Geographic special on the Gospel of Judas, and searched for it here on HP. Awesome hub! Loved it!
Chaplain Bernell Wesley from Jonesboro,Georgia on January 12, 2011:
It is quite common for a people to take a subject they don't understand or that they disagree with and turn it into a joke. The Greeks and Romans really have been the instruments of the anti-Christ and that legacy is evident whenever I read articles like this. The danger in this is that many who don't know any better can be misled. The earliest copy of this purported "gospel" is AD 280 from a supposed earlier "Greek version" and was not published until 2006 by National Geographic. Anything that the Greeks did or is said to have done cannot be taken seriously anymore. The ancient Greeks invented "myths" to embellish their history. They were great story tellers who in many cases took oral history and rewrote it so that they were afforded central importance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas
BRANCH66 from Pittsburgh on July 31, 2010:
Hey I just started to follow you I like this article. Keep It 100! Keep Hubbing!
days leaper from england on July 28, 2010:
Hi. As I like much of what you have to say, I -a self confessed Genius!- please allow me to offer a few pointers on the subject, where I see you've been mistaken.
1. The term brother is correct only in the Spiritual sense. See the part where JC has to leave his material family behind in his quest to get back to God.
2. Jesus (JC) is not God but sent from God, The Spiritual Father. Judas therefore is brother only in the same way as the other appostles.
3. Judas was fishing with Peter, when Jesus met them. That is plain to see. Judas seems to have gone a bit hypo when meeting JC. Whether this is due to the old testament prophecies that they were best of friends, or simply equals among the Heaven World. We won't know until it is time to return to that World/realm.
4. Jesus did not ask Judas to betray him. He did say "be quick about your work!" he was referring to the work that was handed down to him by God that all mankind would know that God exists and so look to return when leaving this mortal coil (ie. "dying") and that way may be saved from other places that exist in this and that realm/s. And in the meantime might help the work by having thought for others -and the rest of it.
And therefore JC wasn't trying to rule the world, this was Judas' misconception, which perhaps had to be so that he would and could carry out that assigned work. So when people ask is he forgiven, I ask is that the question? Wasn't he commended for his role on his return?
Finally, if God had wanted to get this world back from the devil/s then he would more likely to have given Judas the job. As he didn't He bade him "return home" as death is something mankind should not argue with, nor disobey.
hope that helps.
You have corrected me, as I formally thought Judas wasn't paying attention in class, it now seems he was except for that very necessary "mistake".
Wayne sr. on March 30, 2010:
That was an interesting read.And I am with you on how Judas is always viewed as the bad guy.I do not believe he was as bad as people thinks he was.However lets not forget scripture.It says in the old testament that Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.And it just came to be Judas's fate.Now it is possible it could have been his brother,but I think he was just an apostle.But it does raise debate.But we will never really know until we meet up with Lord Jesus. Good and interesting read.
Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on February 18, 2010:
THEOPHANES Hello I'm Brother Dave Mathews.
I love this hub and agree with all you have to say.
If you check out my Hub Judas Iscariot Sinner or Saint, I too represent and defend Judas in his trial by humanity. I also love the fact that you actually point out that Judas and Jesus were brothers.
Your humouristic approach to the Martyr bit was simply brilliant and in effect, I believe that such a conversation actually took place in heaven before both arrived on earth to live as humans. This is the Pre-destination part of my defence.
Thankyou for this one.
Brother Dave Mathews
SamAntone on February 09, 2010:
I wrote an article on my home page with a similar flavor, though not about Judas. You may be interested. I found your article when the box of "related topics" appeared after I published that hub.
Jairald on October 10, 2009:
It's been a long time since I left the farm, but this pile of manure really takes me back!
pj on March 12, 2009:
theres so many "books" about the same story from the same era that were left out of the bible. the people who put the bible together formed it in away to make woman not have any place of authority in the church and set it to where their priests couldn't marry and set sex as an evil thing. mainly the catholics. not to say any is more important then the next but theres so many others to read and learn from. theres a book were peter looks down at the souls burning in hell and tells jesus he cant bare to see this and jesus responds fear not for if they are loved and someones asks they shall be set free, so this ones out because now hell isn't permanent, and you cant control a populous without a bad thing to happen. if judas never betrayed jesus then he couldn't have fullfilled his destiny. he told the priests tear down this temple and i shall raise it up again in three days. he knew from the get go how it was going to play out, therefore he couldve at any time removed judas, but he needed him. judas was the treasurer, the most important role in the disciplship, he was not evil, he was the #1 in jesus's eyes, that's why he trusted only him to do what he did. read more, but know this, knowledge is the enemy of faith. we weren't meant to have that anyway, that's why the whole apple thing came in, which they now think may have actually been a fig. but if God knows everything he knew when he put the tree there way before he created man she would bite the apple and have you ever meet a man who didn't do something a woman asks? especially when its the only woman on earth? or was it? it does say on the 6th day he created man and woman from the dust of the earth, then he doesn't make eve til chapter 2, hmmm? one more, if the first thing God did was say let there be light, why is it he dont make the sun til the 2nd day? plz respond with ur answers or ?'s here and i will check'em out regulary. if you intrigue me i may give you my email and we can ponder and discuss further. pj
Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on December 25, 2008:
Yes, I agree, the Church, whatever it may be, should be open-minded and evolve with the people as time progresses.
michele7350 on December 17, 2008:
Jesus was a man, he felt happiness, anger, sadness, he laughed, he cried, he loved. I don't believe Judas was the bad guy, I believe he was asked of Jesus to betray him. I believe he was Jesus' best friend and possibly his brother, just as I believe Jesus loved Mary Magdeline as a man loves a woman. If he was able to feel all these others, why would he be denied the love and touch of a woman. I passed one day a Church and on it's outside bullentin board it read "God does not listen to sinners prays," and I thought then he's not listenening to any one. God does listen to sinners, and I believe that God is kind, loving, caring but also cruel. That there are reasons for everything that happens and it's up to mankind to make a difference. I think the Catholic Church and others Churches need to open there minds and change and grow as people and society does.
Deeperpoet from Lexington, SC on March 11, 2008:
March 10, 2008
I saw the Sun and the Moon take a stance in the universe.
And an unknown Star placed over them was put in charge.
The whole entire inhabitants scattered themselves at large.
And all the lands and seas became separated by a diverse.
The Sun Shined brightly in the west never to set in a curse.
The Moon gleamed fully bright to the east as the surcharge.
The door had been widely opened and many came by barge.
The stress was great because the world went into a reverse.
Fate and destiny was being dished out like a deck of cards.
Skies lit up and the Stars came back out like never before.
And the palm trees took up to the seas like standing guards.
And from this stemmed growth from that one opened door.
The Sun and Moon are exalted above and beyond you all,
And so is the Star in charge of those that flaw in its thrall.
© Copyright: Ann Rich 2008
sandra rinck on March 07, 2008:
I am really glad you are one of the few to see past the lie and redeem Judas as a lover not a hater. Congradulations!
Woody Marx from Ontario, Canada on February 03, 2008:
really stimulating and thought-provoking!