A copy of the Gospel of Judas has been translated and released. The Gnostic text claims that in the week prior to his crucifixion, Jesus told Judas that he was the only disciple who understood the true nature of Christ, and asked him to betray him to the authorities. Thus, in this week before Easter, Christians face a new interpretation of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the potential rehabilitation of a loathed figure in history.
The document dates from about 180-250AD. No one knows for sure if that is when the actual ‘gospel’ was first written, or who wrote it. One observer noted that, if those dates are original, it is as if someone wrote an eye-witness account of George Washington’s inaugural in 1940 and passed it off as history.
But no matter. This gospel, when combined with other texts discovered in the last 50 years, add to the historical record of the time period, skimpy as it is. These documents bring real people to life. They describe conversations and daily life that separates them from the tainted versions we have created in movies or television. That is the most fascinating part of this discovery: history, the recorded actions and words of real people, explained in the written word. From this history, we have derived a religious faith in something that cannot always be explained through the written word: God, Yahwe, the word that cannot be spoken because it cannot be fully comprehended in human terms.