The name of Judas has been associated with betrayal. He was one of the twelve close disciples of Jesus Christ and as the story goes he betrayed his teacher for 30 pieces of silver. Judas is considered as one of the worst villains that tread on this Earth. According to the New English Bible “Alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born”. Other Biblical writings sight the reason for his betrayal as the lust for money or Satan’s influence upon him or because of his love for the country where he felt that Jesus let them down. The Biblical stories claim that Judas conspired with the High Priest in exchange for money to lead the way to Jesus’ hide out and revealed the identity of Jesus with a kiss. This kiss is also known as the kiss of death and one that symbolises betrayal to the highest extent. But was Judas Iscariot really a villain as bad as described in the Biblical accounts?
The Gospel of Judas which is a Coptic language Codex found in the 1970s in Egypt revealed a series of conversations between Judas and Jesus. This Gospel throws a different light on Judas. This text had been hidden for long in fear of it being destroyed by the fanatics. According to this Gospel Judas was not a betrayer, he rather followed the orders of his master by delivering Jesus to the authorities that led to his cruxification. The document states how Jesus planned the course of events that would finally lead to his death. It is an intimate discussion with between the master and his most obedient and best disciple. Jesus wanted to shred off his earthly body and tread in heaven over again. He also wanted to pay for the rising sins of the worshippers, thus he took help from his best disciple Judas Iscariot. Many scholars had raised doubts in the past as to why Judas who has been defined in many writings as the best and closest disciple of Jesus would suddenly betray him. The Gospel tells the readers at the frustration Jesus had with all the other disciples.
According the Gospel of Judas, Jesus tells Judas that he has failed in teaching the true meanings to other disciples for they still engage in worldly rituals such as sacrificing animal to suffice the gods. Other disciples do not understand the meaning between soul and body. He praises Judas as “you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me. Already your horn has been raised, your wrath has been kindled, your star has shone brightly, and your heart has been hardened”. Judas knew what would follow his apparent betrayal. But he was the chosen one. He was the bravest and strongest among all the disciples and thus he was provided with the task of handing Jesus over to the Romans. Scholars feel that the ancients had mistranslated the word handing over to betrayal. In this Gospel, Jesus tells Judas “You shall be cursed for generations” and still Judas decides to undertake the infamous task.
Though some scholars feel it was written by Judas himself after the death of Jesus, but there are others that state the text was actually written by one of the close associates of Judas. The radiocarbon dating conducted on the pages provides evidence that the text was written sometimes during or just after the period in which Jesus lived and died.
Some scholars have also opined that Judas was a righteous and scholarly person. Other disciples conspired against him as they were jealous of his closeness with the God son. Jesus used to take special sessions with Judas and he thought Judas to be the only disciple to have truly imbibed his teachings. According to the recent studies labelling Judas as a traitor was a huge hoax in history!