Although scholars are divided on how Judas is characterized in the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, if approached from Preston Harold’s point of view the disputes may be lessened. These disputes are based upon how a few select words are interpreted.
Take, for instance, how the Greek word paradidomi is interpreted in the canonical gospels. Does it mean “betrayed” or “handed over?” Does it mean both? How one decides to interpret that word makes all the difference in how one interprets the character and destiny of Judas. If one takes Harold’s testimony into account, it is difficult not to interpret paradidomi the way that it was used in the first century up until the gospel accounts of Judas were written, that is simply as “handing over,” with no intimations of betrayal at all. Yet when the word is translated in the gospels in connection with Judas, it is always rendered as “betray.” Maybe that’s because Judas himself accounted his deed after the fact as a betrayal, not being able to live with himself.
In the accounts of the betrayal, there is implication that Jesus had discussed Judas’ role with him. Jesus announces that He is to be betrayed and describes the fate of the betrayer. Judas asks, “Surely it is not me, rabbi?” Jesus answers, “Is it not?” This suggests that Judas had been instructed, had not fully comprehended the implication in what he was to do, faltered when it came to him, and would have faltered when Jesus handed him the sop, save for Jesus’ command: “Be quick with what you have to do.”
This passage continues, “None of those at table understood why he said this to him; some thought that, as Judas kept the money-box, Jesus told him to buy what they needed for the festival or to give something to the poor. So Judas went out immediately after taking the bread.”
To add insult to injury to Judas, at this point in John’s gospel John tells us that “Satan entered into (Judas).” Of course this is true in the original Hebrew sense of the word “Satan,” which means not an evil entity, but rather is a title of one who initiates a trial and thus brings the protagonist to fulfill God’s calling as his true purpose. Yet Christian interpretation has heavily elucidated this phrase as a negative mark and stain upon Judas. Why this mark and stain doesn’t also pertain to Peter, whom Jesus Himself actually called Satan at one point, is beyond me. In fact, how we interpret Judas’ deed says nothing about Judas and everything about us and our acceptance of reality, for we are not really angry at Judas. He was just following instructions. We are angry at Jesus. We are angry that we need to die to ourselves. We are angry that Jesus actually did die to show us in no uncertain terms that it is truly the way. We want a king, an unquestioned ruler to confirm our biases and bless us with his undefeatable power. We want a power grab. But Jesus says “no” to this request and we hate Him for it. And so it’s so much easier just to make Judas the scapegoat for our hatred of Jesus and His way, no?
There seems no doubt that Jesus could have stopped Judas with a word, but Son of man must follow the path outlined by Scriptures….Judas appears to be the first to die in service to Jesus: Jesus outlined an action and gave Judas both the signal and the command to perform it. As Judas kissed Jesus to betray Him, Jesus called him, “Friend.” Would He have chosen this moment to be ironical, sarcastic, hypocritical?
Truth speaks truth. Jesus called Judas friend. At the last supper Jesus said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Moffatt translates Jesus’ words at the moment of betrayal, “My man, do your errand.” There was still a Scripture to be fulfilled – and Judas had an errand to do before it could be fulfilled – this Judas did before he killed himself. The prophecy reads:
…and I took the thirty silver pieces, the price of him who had been priced, whom they had priced and expelled from the sons of Israel; and I gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord had bidden me.
As the Lord had bidden me. The fulfilling of this prophecy bespeaks the interaction between Jesus and Judas. The money “bought” earth – “bought” matter.
Jesus did not have to bid Judas to hang himself. He knew he would be unable to live with himself after his act. As Judas acquits his role, a boundary is provided for Light’s action.
Until next time, peace.