The Judas Variations

The newly-discovered Gospel of Judas is exciting for all kinds of reasons.

First off, it shows how flimsy doctrine is. If Judas is a good guy, then all the teaching is out the window, and the official interpreters have to rebend the rules to explain how early Christians believed this about Judas. My point is that doctrine is never especially interesting or helpful. Religion is the sum of organized thinking about spiritual matters, and it’s calcified and bureaucratized, while a thoughtful person’s ideas about spirituality are always changing, evolving, and new institutions are arising. In the same way that thinking about biology or architecture evolves. Sam Harris argues in The End of Faith that Islam has too many backward ideas to play ball in the modern age, and he’s got a point. But what about the Catholic idea of an all-male priesthood. That’s plenty backward, too, and is obviously connected to pedophilia. Why should Catholicism survive?

Another exciting thing about the Judas revelation is the spiritual challenge the apostle now represents. Was Judas the most selfless man who ever lived? Per the new gospel, he was willing to do anything for his good friend Jesus, even when Jesus asked Judas to condemn him. So Judas did what no ordinary person would do, willingly blackened his own name and became in the eyes of all humanity the greatest villain of all time. Played the snitch, and as we all know a snitch is worse than anything, worse even than a murderer. He took all that on selflessly for his friend and his idea of god—now that is spiritually evolved.