The Trouble with Judas

The trouble with Judas is that if he was carrying out God’s plan, was he really evil? The point has been made everywhere from seminaries to Jesus Christ, Superstar, but it suddenly became more urgent with the rediscovery of a putative Gospel of Judas in 2004. Religious scholars Elaine Pagels and Karen King have a new book out on the subject (reviewed this week in the New York Times). Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity seems to take a middle-of-the-road approach, arguing that the gospel (written in the third century AD, not by Judas himself) takes a critical position against the hegemony of the early Christian church. Whether that vindicates the most famous betrayal in narrative history is a tough one–Pagels and King argue that it all depends on how attached Jesus really felt to his body. To find out more, check out this podcast Pagels and King gave at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, or listen to their interview with Terry Gross on NPR.

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