Re: The discovery and subsequent translation of -a- Gospel of Judas (Iscarioth).
The I-News Wire recently released a press release about the find of a hithero unknown Gospel of Judas in Coptic, in Basel, Switzerland.
It is the first official “word” on the status of the Gospel of Judas whose rumoured find in Egypt and covert witholding from public and scholarly notice have circulated over the internet the last few years.
According to the churchfather Ireneaus of Lyons a specific group among the ancient Gnostics venerated the person of Judas of Iscarioth, along with Cain, Nimrod,Esau, Koram and a score of such persons who in the Old Testament were the enemies of the friends of God; Prophets, Patriarchs and Kings. These Gnostics, if they were, were nicknamed Cainites and appears to have held a very strong antinomian ethic which basically made it a virtue to transgress against the Commandments, no transgression evaluated baser than another.
These Cainites, in my view, could very well have been the group of Christians who according to the polemic of the 4th century Coptic Gnostic text Pistis Sophia were accused of performing Masses wherein female menses and male sperm were mixed with Barley and ingested in the name and to the glory of Esau and Koram. The resentment and revision of myth found in the system of Menander, a supposed disciple of Simon Magus, along with a certain Saturninus or Satornil – wherein the God of Israel are specifically referred to as a fallen angel, has found a ritual expression, perhaps, in the breaking of the commandment, by partaking of the impure with the pure(sic!), and invoking the name of enemies and villains of one’s own cultural and religious history and mythos.
The Cainites were also known to celebrate their functions called by them Agape, as did the early Judeo-Christian groups in Palestine in the nude, while holding all property, including women (…) in common. A very controversial bit this, but the Cainites have been subject to, and prototype, for many accusations past and contemporary. These views and practices have not found a passive audience, they are indeed subject to much polemic, also among Gnostics proper, as was seen in the inclusion of a specific condemnation ascribed to the Saviour himself in the 4th century text
Pistis Sophia and obliquely in the Books of Ieou.
To wit, a very great divide existed between the Gnostic groups represented by the first-hand accounts we have from the Chenoboskion (Nag Hammadi) find, as well as the Codex Berlin, Codex Bruce, Codex Askew and so forth. What these shared where at the very least a redaction with a very strong ascetic or encratic orientation – and these Cainites, or others like the Phibiontes (named after “dirt”, according to Epiphanius of Salamis these had so uncouth habits about their persons that ordinary pagan citizens in their townships refused to have anything to do with them..a very Tantric-sounding group, if for anything but association with taboo-restricted areas in their respective cultures), contrary to the general confused image of the Gnostics en generis – there are no actual cult of Cain, apart from Ireneaus and Epiphanius report on the rural “Cainites”, in Gnostic literature which has found its way to us. Neither are Judas of Iscarioth counted in the canon of Apostolic age saints among any known Gnostic group. With the exception, of course, of these Cainites. Both the Cainites and the legend of their veneration of both Cain and Judas of Iscarioth has featured prominently among themes chosen by modern authors who have written with reference to the ancient Gnostics – one should mention Swiss author Hermann Hesse, who in his novel Demian lets his protagonist, a certain Max Demian, teach his friend Emil Sinclaire, the hero of the story, about the famed “Mark of Cain” and its soteriological and existencial implications – this type of person is always a stranger, in any company, an enigma, someone shunned by the good people of any town. This situation is replayed in Count de Lautramont’s Maldoror, in the work of Lawrence Durrell, who puts the “Ophite” ritual of the serpent “blessing the sacraments” in the post-world war 1 Egyptian colony of more or less decadent British, Belgian and French intellectual functionaries of the Colonizing powers.The same with certain other French poets of the Romantic area. Above all, to persons with a liberal, libertarian and perhaps even libertine sentiments and orientation, feel at home with the briefly described heretics with the strongest controversiality with conventional Christendom,or Judaism for that matter. But little has been heard from them.None of the Nag Hammadi texts hint at the practices, or even the attitudes, of these ancient antinomians, the closest we come are the 17th century Antinomians with a prophetic penchant in Cromwellian Great Britain, or Utopian experiments in the wilderness of America, such as the Oneida Creek Community lead by the visionary and somewhat ambigious character John Henry Noyes.
Now, the first page translated into English from what appears to be an authentic Coptic codex containing the Gospel of Judas(Iscarioth – not Judas Didymos Thomas) make use of the very name, in Coptic – Allogenes,predictably as the name for Jesus.
The first fragment translated by Charles W.Heidrick (No less) appears to speak about the humiliation of Jesus, which is more or less a taboo in itself – to the ancient Gnostic Christian groups we know of that is – and a more desperate invocation of aid from God than we are used to. I will look closer into this later.. so this is the first of several posts on this press release.Share on Facebook