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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Judas the demon

APRIL D. DECONICK is the author of a book on the Gospel of Judas.

In her op-ed piece in the New York Times, she notes that the National Geographic Society's trumpeting of this find involves some hasty and inaccurate translation.

The reinterpretation of Judas as a trusted disciple who was asked by Jesus to turn him over to satisfy a grand plan doesn't seem to hold up in re-translation. Judas is a "daimon", which should be translated "demon", not "spirit". A "not" was left out, so instead of getting a place in heaven, Judas will “not ascend to the holy generation.”

"Judas is a specific demon called the “Thirteenth.” In certain Gnostic traditions, this is the given name of the king of demons — an entity known as Ialdabaoth who lives in the 13th realm above the earth. Judas is his human alter ego, his undercover agent in the world. These Gnostics equated Ialdabaoth with the Hebrew Yahweh, whom they saw as a jealous and wrathful deity and an opponent of the supreme God whom Jesus came to earth to reveal.

Whoever wrote the Gospel of Judas was a harsh critic of mainstream Christianity and its rituals. Because Judas is a demon working for Ialdabaoth, the author believed, when Judas sacrifices Jesus he does so to the demons, not to the supreme God. This mocks mainstream Christians’ belief in the atoning value of Jesus’ death and in the effectiveness of the Eucharist. "

So, the Gospel of Judas is still a great story -- just not the one that the first translation said it was.

Disclaimer: I'm not qualified to evaluate Deconick's claims.