And I was sick all day today, and after getting some more of Tolkien’s Nar Ni Hin Hurin (his best work, in my opinion; it’s in the book Unfinished Tales if you are interested) what do I pick up to read but the Gospel of Judas, within the book Judas: A Definitive Collection of Gospels and Legends about the Infamous Apostle of Jesus by Marvin Meyer, which has been sitting on my shelf for years now.
I got about half way through it, read the whole of the Judas gospel writing and a LOT of explanation by the author which was mostly him repeating himself on why Judas was likely the good guy in the story, not the bad guy. Personally, I totally agree. It makes more sense to me that Jesus was in on it with Judas. For a guy who followed and believed in Jesus as long as the rest of the apostles, it is not likely that he would fall so fast to give his closest friend up for execution, especially with the whole ‘Son of God’ thing going for Jesus. But if Jesus ASKED Judas to turn him over (not betray, by the way; Meyer goes into paragraphs about how the original word used in the four gospels as well as Judas’ gospel means ‘to hand over,’ not ‘to betray’), Judas must have had some mucho balls and some mucho love for his friend to basically unconditionally do what his friend asked. I feel the same about the story of Pontius Pilate. He did nothing to directly harm Jesus. In fact, in all the four used gospels he basically says he considers Jesus an innocent man. He knew little to nothing about Jews except that they paid taxes. So why get his hands into the mess? They have their punishments, let them deal with the guy as they want. How was he supposed to know they would decide to kill him? Frankly, in the end, he avoids all blame from them, and that is a very safe thing to be in those times when it came to the Jews. (Nothing against Jews today, they are quite nice people. But everyone has their dark past, so you know.) Both Judas and Pilate are used as scapegoats of evil or even demonic inference in the story of Jesus. Once again, human emotion used as tools to command the masses which followed the church in more manipulative times. So why do people still hold to these old stories?
In fact, why do people still follow the basic format of the Bible at all? Pardon the bouncing thought process, but I’m going back to the point that this story of Judas as the closest follower and loyal friend of Jesus is titled as a gospel. There is the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and many more less known which were all used in the beginning of Christianity. Eventually all the different sides got too much to take, so the Catholic authorities in Rome took charge and decided to vote. Hurray for democracy at work in history! They claim that the Holy Spirit helped them decide the proper pieces of their biblical puzzle. But in a time when women were still considered (despite Jesus’ teachings) under men and should have no opinion of their own, and a world where fear of the unknown (aka the afterlife) was rampant thanks to disease and war, some gospels were considered more attractive than others. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is not so completely different from the other four known gospels, but since it was written as a woman’s perspective and illustrated the love and respect Jesus had for women, they nixed it. Since the Gospel of Thomas did not so closely follow the stories of Jesus as Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, they nixed that too. And to a point, I can understand the want for unity in teachings. But even the current four gospels have many deviations from each other which are not explained. The concept of Judas as an all-out traitor is only illustrated in two of the gospels, and nowhere in Paul’s letters, a very core part of the New Testament, does mention Judas, let alone condemn any man for handing Jesus over. He actually goes to say that Jesus handed himself over, and even that ‘God’ handed ‘his’ son over directly. Perspective people, it’s all about perspective.
I have had people tell me that Catholicism is not a form of Christianity… and I still don’t know where the hell that comes from. They both use the same books in their bibles; different wordings and interpretations, but the same books. They both believe in the Trinity; again, they have different interpretations of what the Trinity means, but the symbol is there, to include the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit. If any of this is a reflection of the truth of the world, I vote for the Spirit.
My point of all of this is why are there no religiously inspired people taking these old gospels to heart? And don’t tell me it is because the actual scripture is divinely inspired, and so these books do not inspire the soul and spirit the way the Bible does. If that is the case, than you have no argument against the Quran, Buddhist Scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita, or any other religious text of other religions. Are we still so shut off from exploring our faith that people do not venture into the ‘forbidden’ realms of old? Or are people just so lazy that they do not question, but simply follow the flock off the cliff?
People say that religion is of the spirit. Well, I say it is the beautiful melding of the spirit and the mind, the finite place where they mingle together into something beyond each of them separated. Exploring and experiencing the spiritual with the mind open is what faith is all about. Our faith should not be blind, and we should not follow it with blinders on. Open your eyes, people. Open your minds and spirits alike, and see what is really out there. You do not have to doubt your faith to expand it. Get out there and see the world, all of it, all of god’s gifts to you, and take it all in, even if it hurts. That is true love, isn’t it? So for Valentine’s Day, do yourself a favor and love the world. For one day, have no blinders on, feel no judgment, and just experience everything. Give a nod to Judas and Pilate if you are Christian (Catholics included), because without them, Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified for you, now would he? So have a day without blinders, kids. And Happy Valentine’s Day to all.