Cariño: Of Judas

Linda Grace Cariño

"THE Gospel of Judas." It’s a National Geographic Channel (NGC) documentary that’s been playing for a long time now on cable TV. To the Catholic world, perhaps the title itself is blasphemous. But hey -- it’s 2016. Maybe we ought to be able to react to both the title and the video itself with more sense.

Paraphrased: A papyrus document is found in the mysterious sands of Egypt in the 1970s. From then, it journeys the antiquities market, is bought, to be stolen, lost, found, lost… Until it finally finds its way in 2000 into the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, in Basel, Switzerland, that sets it on the road to archeological study. The big guns come in to restore it, carbondate it, translate it from ancient Coptic, what is called the language of the Pharaohs.

In 2006, this document was determined to be the Gospel of Judas. Like so many other gospels outside of the Bible’s chosen four, it is a book that presents a picture of Jesus that many Catholics and other Christians may find uncomfortable. My take: so what if it’s uncomfortable? Discomfort can be a good thing. Often, it marks significant turning points in paradigms, of which we have many that still need reexamining.

The documentary reminds me of a book I read sometime in the early 80s titled I, Judas (1977). It’s by Taylor Caldwell, an author quite known not just for her bestseller track record, but also for her psychic leanings. She has been known to write under trance/regression sessions, convinced that some of her work directly results from seeing into past lives. Such is her Judas book, among a number, in truth.

Like the NGC documentary, I, Judas presents a picture of Judas as hero, not villain. But the Caldwell book fleshes out the character more than the documentary does. Caldwell establishes him as the treasurer of the Apostles, a very rich man, with total faith in Jesus, which is why he is the one Jesus chooses as an accomplice to the “betrayal” plot. I can just hear you: whaaaat?!

Oh yes. So if you’re a Church history buff like moi, check it out, the book. I was recently at Booksale in that city on the hill, and came across a copy, which I promptly snapped up to replace the one I read decades ago, which had gotten misplaced. Just got done reading I,Judas again, and it still reads well.