A little more on the Gospel of Judas +diverse reflections

I forgot to mention that it is Ireneaus of Lyonswho identifies the Gospel according to Judas as the product of the Cainite heretics.

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1913,no less) has this to contribute about the Cainite heresy:

They regarded all characters held up to retrobation in the Old Testament as worthy of veneration, as having suffered at the hands of the cruel God of the Jews; hence Cain, as the first man cursed by Hysteraa, the Demiurg, claimed their special admiration.

The author of the article also makes a point of mentioning that Hippolytus thought them of so little consequence and threat that he only mentions them.
Which is well and good, only that there are entire books missing from the only copy, a 14th century Greek transcription – of his Philosophumena,discovered at the middle of the 19th century. One may well argue, as one would, that the extant Summary would cast light on which heresies his missing books addressed; had it not been for that the aforementioned summary also are curiously fragmentary. With regards to the Naassenes, who nevertheless get an unaccountable large space in the Fifth Book, Mark L.Gaffney, in his The Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes (I will review that particular book later, time permitting.) makes a lot out of this curious correlation between missing portions of the Summary and the books which those portions would cover, perhaps too much, given we are in no position to know anything about the contents of the missing parts of Hippolytus Philosophumena before a complete manuscript lands in our hands.

Nevermind all that. I messed up the prior post by not giving the cognitive link between the Cainites and the Gospel of Judas and explicating what all that Jazz was about.I should hope that has been cleared up now. An additional commentary viz. the name of the heretical sect and the “offspring” of the elder son of Adam, Cain – the conspiracy buffs of the far-further-furthest right wing oriented Christian fundamentalist kind have cherished the fact that an important character in Masonic lore is Tubal-Cain, i.e. he has an ancient semittic name which makes reference, at least superifically, to the Patriarch of the “wrong kind”. If we look at the various answers these conspiracists, you will find they are always barking up some genealogical tree which has a racial and etnic connotation attached. Perhaps more than anything, Hesse’s use of the concept of “Mark of Cain” upon certain human beings, whose destinies appears to be attached to be forever the travelling stranger, points towards the problematic of this very seed. Some Gnostic systems divided Humanity into three; A Hylic (material) or Sarkic(fleshly) humanity; a Psychic (soul’ish) humanity and a Pneumatic (spiritual) race – all these were usually associated with the three “sons” of the first nuclear family: Cain the elder, Abel the middle and Seth the youngest. There are many ways of reading and understanding this tripartition and apparently the three are sometimes viewed as present as potentionalities within each individual human being. Doubtless, with our “psychological sophistication”, being “Contemporaries” – modern Gnostics have a proclivity towards viewing humanity as such as unitary, while the characteristics of the true spiritual man are the product of some exertion, developement and divine assistance. My comment here is that the Nomadic peoples, since the “triumph” of agrarian civilization while forever travelling “strangers” to city-dwellers and rural peasants (or Pagans if you must) alike, with their usual lifestyle and means of sustaining themselves more properly correspond to the first martyr of the Old Testament, Abel – not Cain. The kingless (because each is accounted a King when they have become “men”, women and men alike), ummovable, individuated and never-fading “race of Man” – the Pneumatics, the offspring of Seth, forever the Stranger, Allogenes, however, is the Gnostics.
In a English language summary of the German scholar Herman D. Detering on the Gospel of Judas , courtesy of Klaus Schilling at RadikalKritik –

Detering observes that through the Patristic sources there are scant to go on with regards what the Gospel of Judas used by the Cainites

contained.The scripture is only named and called spurious by Ireneaus.

Henry-Charles Puech apparently viewed Ireneaus report on the Cainities as associated to the particular soteriology of Marcion of Sinope – wherein some Patristic sources on Marcion asserts that according to his heresy – Jesus descended into Hell explicitly to save the “villains” of the Old Testament, a flipside of the early Christian redaction of the Pseudepigraphic Ascension of Isaiah where the prophet is given a vision of the future death and descent into hell of the Saviour, in order to save the Old Testament heroes, who were damned to hell for not acknowledging the Messiah before his coming(sic!).

In the newly discovered Gospel of Judas, first chapter, a great deal is made out of the amount the priests pay Judas for the delivery of his teacher, and also that the priests think Judas is a true disciple of Jesus and fear he will deceive him. It also appears as if this is what Judas wants to do, i.e. not tell the truth to the priests, but he is encouraged to go continue his task by a vision of Jesus himself, whom he addresses as Allogenes.Since the first translated fragments of the manuscript in question deals with events before the crucifixion, we are left hanging with regards to the salvific ministry of Jesus, perhaps, to the villains of the Old Testament. The insinuation puts me in mind of the “universal salvation” brought by Jesus according to the Gospel of Philip – he came, from the beginning of time, to redeem and save, not only the good, but the evil with the good. And that, apparently, the Apokatastasis Panton, is the greatest stumbling block of all – anathema to the Hebrews and foolishness to the Greeks.

Hermann Detering’s current work “Judas und das Judasevangelium” available in German on http://www.radikalkritik.de/judev.pdf

4 thoughts on “A little more on the Gospel of Judas +diverse reflections

  1. This all reminds me of Kazantzakis’ use of the idea of Judas as Christ’s own saviour, in “The Last Temptation of Christ,” which is how I’ve always perceived Judas Iscariot. It makes no sense to me that the Logos would not have planned its own betrayal as a necessary aspect of the mythical salvation story.

    Are you aware of any other tradition that holds that Jesus essentially asked Judas to “betray” him so that the prophecies could be fulfilled? Kazantzakis is the only reference I can come up with, but there must be more out there . . . .

  2. This is all wonderful stuff, Terje, keep up the excellent work. I wonder what it’d take to find a photographic reproduction of the text? Pray for a leak.


  3. absolutely!

    if they leak the original (since nobody knows coptic, right?) i could do a bit of translating myself . . . . 😉

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