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Friday, February 18, 2011

Was Judas really the bad guy?

We all know the story. Jesus was betrayed by Judas to the authorities. That, of course, makes Judas the bad guy. Jesus gets to wear the white hat in this storyline. However, let's think through the elements of this story. Jesus, according to Christians, is God. He is an omnipresent, all knowing, all powerful deity. The concept of an all knowing god gets glossed over by many. If Jesus is truly all knowing, he knew Judas would betray him. In fact, the story makes that very point. However, since Jesus knew Judas would betray him, all he had to do was be somewhere else when the authorities showed up. In fact, if Jesus never wanted to be found, he would know where the perfect hiding place to hide out every day to avoid capture by the authorities. Therefore, obviously, Jesus wanted Judas to betray him. He needed that so he could die on the Cross. All Judas is doing is fulfilling his part of the master plan. How does that make Judas the bad guy? He is actually crucial in making sure Jesus dies for Mankind. This also shows us that Judas had no choice in the matter. He HAD to betray Jesus. Which of course, completely destroys the concept of free will. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, then Jesus would not have died for our sins. If Judas had no choice in the matter, why do we blame him? I would say Judas is not the bad guy in this story. He is the patsy.

Now that also opens up an interesting line of questions. Why did Jesus have to die on the Cross? The point is that he died and then comes back. So, why couldn't Jesus die of old age and then come back? What is the difference in how he dies? The point is not how he dies but that he is resurrected. If Jesus lived a full life and dies of natural causes, and then comes back three days later in his 20 year old body, does that not make the same point about his defying death? Now, obviously it is not as visually compelling as the whipping and the nails through the wrists and ankles, but it still accomplishes the same ultimate end. Jesus is all knowing. Therefore, he knows everything that is going to occur. He knows he will be resurrected. He knows he will be back on Earth in three days after he dies. So, why does he have to go through with the pain of the crucifixion?

Simple answer. It makes for more interesting storytelling. People are not as involved with the story if he dies in his sleep. He has to die in agony in order for the story to generate sympathy. The more detailed answer is that the story was borrowed from other god-man myths and the writers were not creative enough to come up with a new concept.

This is sales, showmanship, making sure the audience gets its full value. But it is not real history.

If the Jewish authorities, with their own agents, really had wanted to arrest a Jesus, supposedly a guru drawing vast crowds, they certainly would not have needed to hire an inside informer to identify the charismatic leader. Nor is it creditable that 'big money' would have been paid for (of all things) a kiss of the doomed messiah (Mark 14.44). The theological symbolism is as apparent as the history is bogus.
The mythic "Judas" was a Gentile/Hellenistic creation of the early 2nd century, an eponymous focus for the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism of the early Church. "Iscariot" appears to have been taken from the name of a rebel group called Sicarii, Jewish assassins who used sicae (small daggers), who were largely exterminated shortly before the first Jewish war.

Ignatius, writing his epistles about 115, made no mention of a Judas Iscariot, but then, nor did he mention any 'disciples' (Paul and Peter are called 'apostles', that is, missionaries – like himself).

But with a theologically necessary betrayal by 'a Jew/the Jews' the divine saviour passes, body and soul, into the possession of the Gentiles.

In their disposal of Judas, the hapless traitor of the Lord – how could he help it, he had been entered by Satan?! (Luke 22.3) – the Christian scribblers get quite carried away.

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