Truth or Fable?

Use this forum to discuss the May 2019 Book of the month, "Misreading Judas" by Robert Wahler
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Kelyn
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Truth or Fable?

Post by Kelyn » 20 May 2019, 22:29

Well, now that you've had time to read the book, what do you think? Is the author on the right track? Was Judas simply seeking to accelerate the advancement of a mystical line of prophets? Or was he, indeed, the traitor the Bible portrays him as? What is it in or about the book that convinces you (or doesn't)?

Personally, I like considering alternate viewpoints. Although I did find the book somewhat difficult to understand and had to re-read several sections, the author seems to have done his homework. However, his research seems (to me) to be somewhat biased away from Christianity. Because of this, I'm reserving judgment. A more objective point of view would have done a lot better toward convincing me. How about you?
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Post by chelhack » 21 May 2019, 23:21

There are so many different opinions who knows what is or isn't true. I feel people should believe in what satisfies them and makes them want to do and live the best way in life.
Chelsea N. Hackett

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Post by Wamakima » 22 May 2019, 03:30

I think it's true. I don't understand why the author would go to such an extent as to publish the book on such a sensitive topic.
But the path I’ve chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. :)

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Post by jlrinc » 22 May 2019, 11:57

The book is complete nonsense without any redeeming value as a work of scholarship. Consider the following: The author begins by analysing the phrase anaphasis logos meaning the unspoken word, which he assures us conventional scholars cant understand because they arent trained in mysticism. He then quotes a Hindu swami at length to try to explain it. Now by conventional scholar he means Dr Elaine Pagels, who wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Gospel of Judas. She is an atheist, female PHd in Early Christianity, one of the least conventional New Testament scholars who is publishing today and one of only a handful of American scholars fluent in Coptic, the language that most of the gnostic texts are written in. A book outlining how Hindu mysticism influenced the Gnostic authors would be interesting but there are none because Hinduism had no influence at all on the Gnostics which makes most of the first chapter irrelevant and unsubstantiated conjecture. Besides this there is actually a long tradition of Jewish Mysticism that actually did influence the gnostics and Dr Pagels is more than familiar with it. The author is way out of his depth on this book.

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Post by freakkshowx » 22 May 2019, 16:50

jlrinc wrote:
22 May 2019, 11:57
The book is complete nonsense without any redeeming value as a work of scholarship. Consider the following: The author begins by analysing the phrase anaphasis logos meaning the unspoken word, which he assures us conventional scholars cant understand because they arent trained in mysticism. He then quotes a Hindu swami at length to try to explain it. Now by conventional scholar he means Dr Elaine Pagels, who wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Gospel of Judas. She is an atheist, female PHd in Early Christianity, one of the least conventional New Testament scholars who is publishing today and one of only a handful of American scholars fluent in Coptic, the language that most of the gnostic texts are written in. A book outlining how Hindu mysticism influenced the Gnostic authors would be interesting but there are none because Hinduism had no influence at all on the Gnostics which makes most of the first chapter irrelevant and unsubstantiated conjecture. Besides this there is actually a long tradition of Jewish Mysticism that actually did influence the gnostics and Dr Pagels is more than familiar with it. The author is way out of his depth on this book.
I wholeheartedly agree. The direction of this book was impossible to decipher, and the author came off as haughty at some points and weak at others. I have no clue what the author is actually claiming, and half of the pieces of Judas he cites are missing chunks to the point that the meaning of each sentence cited must be entirely fabricated. These "parallels" don't prove anything, much less a conspiracy threaded throughout all of Christendom. I'm pagan, and even I think that this explanation is more off-the-wall than the existence of a single God.

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Post by JPalomares » 22 May 2019, 21:51

I agree with jlrinc and freakkshowx. The author is out of his depth.

Perhaps the Gospel of Judas needs a champion, but this author is not speaking as a scholar, but as a devotee of a modern religion. Any plausible defense of an ancient document needs to come along with an understanding of its place in history.

Think of it this way - when an author makes an offhand allusion to a man in a tweed suit and deerstalker, bent over a magnifying glass, we can fairly safely assume the writer is speaking of Sherlock Holmes. Now, imagine this author's work is rediscovered after two-thousand years; 1,500, we'll say, after the desolation of the culture that produced it and after new cultures and nations have risen and fallen in its place. The offhand allusion survives, but what if the thing to which it was alluding did not? What if no record survived of the Greatest Detective and the London he inhabited? What if the inhabitants of this strange world of 4019 haven't the foggiest idea what in the blue blazes a deerstalker is? - I'd wager there are more than a few people today who couldn't pull that one out of their hat - and that's hardly at the distance of a single century.

My point being, we are at a distance of close enough to two thousand years from the creation of this document; have little understanding of the context - the people, time, and pressures that produced it; and we don't even have a copy of it in its original language (the author, himself, relying on a translation of a translation).

So, to address the question of the book: Was Judas 'Savior' or 'Betrayer'? First (or maybe not even first), we have to discuss whether Jesus was fully human, fully human and a Prophet, half-human-half-God, fully-human-And-fully-God, a spirit with no physical body, a spirit inhabiting a physical body, or something else entirely - all of which were actual, recorded beliefs from the early centuries of Christ-centric religions (look into the Christological Controversies - it's interesting stuff). We also have to discuss whether 'Christ' and 'Jesus' are one and the same or separate entities. The ancient Gnostics tended towards the 'fully spirit' (Christ) or possession models (Christ in Jesus) while what became mainline Christianity eventually established the doctrine of his being fully-human-And-fully-God (and, incidentally, that Jesus and Christ are one and the same). After that, we can debate whether delivering a fully mortal man to be killed could be called 'saving' and whether a spirit can be betrayed to death.

By which I mean; it's complicated.

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Post by jlrinc » 22 May 2019, 22:41

Its even worse than it seems.The book really goes off the rails when he begins to quote Robert Eisenman as his primary source. According to Eisenman the New Testament writers substituted Judas for James, to make the stories acceptable to the proto-orthodox church in Rome. This may or may not be true, but the Gnostic texts are by definition heretical, the authors dont care what the church in Rome thinks, Gnostic writers heavily favored James already and had no reason to disguise James as Judas. Besides substituting Judas for James to make it more acceptable to the Church in Rome would be like trying to make a book about Eichmann more acceptable to Jews by changing Eichmann to Hitler. The whole foundation crumbles when you ask why the author of Gospel of Judas felt the need to disguise James in this text but in the Gospel of Thomas Jesus tells his disciples that when he is gone they are to go to James "for whom the heavens and Earth came together". My opinion is that the Gospel of Judas was never intended to be taken seriously but was a kind of reductio ad absurdum to show the logical outcome of believing the doctrine espoused by those in Rome.

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Post by Kelyn » 23 May 2019, 17:30

chelhack wrote:
21 May 2019, 23:21
There are so many different opinions who knows what is or isn't true. I feel people should believe in what satisfies them and makes them want to do and live the best way in life.
*applause* I agree. Truth, much like beauty, is often based on perception. What satisfies one individual as truth will never satisfy all as truth or as the best way to live. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
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Post by Kelyn » 23 May 2019, 17:32

Wamakima wrote:
22 May 2019, 03:30
I think it's true. I don't understand why the author would go to such an extent as to publish the book on such a sensitive topic.
It is definitely controversial, as this forum discussion is rapidly showing!! Thanks for stopping in and commenting!
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Post by SavannaEGoth » 23 May 2019, 17:43

I am honestly wary about labeling anything in a relgious text or relating to a story within as fact at all, so I apologize if I sound biased, but although I like the unqiue take on the situation and admire the amount of work put into writing the book I don't think this take on the events of Judas' "betrayal" is any more credible than the original bible story itself. If I absolutely had to choose one to stand by, however, I might favor the scenario set up by the author. I enjoy giving characters/people the benefit of the doubt and seeings things from different points of view. There's a reason behind every "fall from grace," as it were. Every antagonist has a backstory and a motivation.
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Post by Kelyn » 23 May 2019, 17:46

jlrinc wrote:
22 May 2019, 11:57
The book is complete nonsense without any redeeming value as a work of scholarship. Consider the following: The author begins by analysing the phrase anaphasis logos meaning the unspoken word, which he assures us conventional scholars cant understand because they arent trained in mysticism. He then quotes a Hindu swami at length to try to explain it. Now by conventional scholar he means Dr Elaine Pagels, who wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Gospel of Judas. She is an atheist, female PHd in Early Christianity, one of the least conventional New Testament scholars who is publishing today and one of only a handful of American scholars fluent in Coptic, the language that most of the gnostic texts are written in. A book outlining how Hindu mysticism influenced the Gnostic authors would be interesting but there are none because Hinduism had no influence at all on the Gnostics which makes most of the first chapter irrelevant and unsubstantiated conjecture. Besides this there is actually a long tradition of Jewish Mysticism that actually did influence the gnostics and Dr Pagels is more than familiar with it. The author is way out of his depth on this book.
Interesting points. Makes me want to look up more of Dr. Pagels work. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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Post by Kelyn » 23 May 2019, 17:53

freakkshowx wrote:
22 May 2019, 16:50
jlrinc wrote:
22 May 2019, 11:57
The book is complete nonsense without any redeeming value as a work of scholarship. Consider the following: The author begins by analysing the phrase anaphasis logos meaning the unspoken word, which he assures us conventional scholars cant understand because they arent trained in mysticism. He then quotes a Hindu swami at length to try to explain it. Now by conventional scholar he means Dr Elaine Pagels, who wrote one of the earliest commentaries on the Gospel of Judas. She is an atheist, female PHd in Early Christianity, one of the least conventional New Testament scholars who is publishing today and one of only a handful of American scholars fluent in Coptic, the language that most of the gnostic texts are written in. A book outlining how Hindu mysticism influenced the Gnostic authors would be interesting but there are none because Hinduism had no influence at all on the Gnostics which makes most of the first chapter irrelevant and unsubstantiated conjecture. Besides this there is actually a long tradition of Jewish Mysticism that actually did influence the gnostics and Dr Pagels is more than familiar with it. The author is way out of his depth on this book.
I wholeheartedly agree. The direction of this book was impossible to decipher, and the author came off as haughty at some points and weak at others. I have no clue what the author is actually claiming, and half of the pieces of Judas he cites are missing chunks to the point that the meaning of each sentence cited must be entirely fabricated. These "parallels" don't prove anything, much less a conspiracy threaded throughout all of Christendom. I'm pagan, and even I think that this explanation is more off-the-wall than the existence of a single God.
True, the book was often difficult to 'interpret' if you will, requiring re-reading of sections...and sometimes even that did little to help. I'm more an Omnist than anything else, and I find 'conspiracy theories', whether religion based or not, fascinating to contemplate. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us!
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Post by Dragonsend » 23 May 2019, 17:54

I tend to look at it like this, we have extensive evidence of what life was like 2000 years ago. Beliefs are a different story, but I believe that the TEXT taken at face value, backs up the story that we read in the Bible. There seems to be a consistency in the stories without all the mumbo jumbo.
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Post by Kelyn » 23 May 2019, 18:00

JPalomares wrote:
22 May 2019, 21:51
I agree with jlrinc and freakkshowx. The author is out of his depth.

Perhaps the Gospel of Judas needs a champion, but this author is not speaking as a scholar, but as a devotee of a modern religion. Any plausible defense of an ancient document needs to come along with an understanding of its place in history.

Think of it this way - when an author makes an offhand allusion to a man in a tweed suit and deerstalker, bent over a magnifying glass, we can fairly safely assume the writer is speaking of Sherlock Holmes. Now, imagine this author's work is rediscovered after two-thousand years; 1,500, we'll say, after the desolation of the culture that produced it and after new cultures and nations have risen and fallen in its place. The offhand allusion survives, but what if the thing to which it was alluding did not? What if no record survived of the Greatest Detective and the London he inhabited? What if the inhabitants of this strange world of 4019 haven't the foggiest idea what in the blue blazes a deerstalker is? - I'd wager there are more than a few people today who couldn't pull that one out of their hat - and that's hardly at the distance of a single century.

My point being, we are at a distance of close enough to two thousand years from the creation of this document; have little understanding of the context - the people, time, and pressures that produced it; and we don't even have a copy of it in its original language (the author, himself, relying on a translation of a translation).

So, to address the question of the book: Was Judas 'Savior' or 'Betrayer'? First (or maybe not even first), we have to discuss whether Jesus was fully human, fully human and a Prophet, half-human-half-God, fully-human-And-fully-God, a spirit with no physical body, a spirit inhabiting a physical body, or something else entirely - all of which were actual, recorded beliefs from the early centuries of Christ-centric religions (look into the Christological Controversies - it's interesting stuff). We also have to discuss whether 'Christ' and 'Jesus' are one and the same or separate entities. The ancient Gnostics tended towards the 'fully spirit' (Christ) or possession models (Christ in Jesus) while what became mainline Christianity eventually established the doctrine of his being fully-human-And-fully-God (and, incidentally, that Jesus and Christ are one and the same). After that, we can debate whether delivering a fully mortal man to be killed could be called 'saving' and whether a spirit can be betrayed to death.

By which I mean; it's complicated.
Yes, it is complicated indeed. This especially stood out to me in your response:
"...we don't even have a copy of it in its original language (the author, himself, relying on a translation of a translation)."
True, but the same could be said of many, many historical texts, including the Bible. Though, granted people and events in the Bible have also been documented by other cultures, such as the Egyptians 'mentioning' Moses in hieroglyphs.
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Post by Kelyn » 23 May 2019, 18:06

jlrinc wrote:
22 May 2019, 22:41
Its even worse than it seems.The book really goes off the rails when he begins to quote Robert Eisenman as his primary source. According to Eisenman the New Testament writers substituted Judas for James, to make the stories acceptable to the proto-orthodox church in Rome. This may or may not be true, but the Gnostic texts are by definition heretical, the authors dont care what the church in Rome thinks, Gnostic writers heavily favored James already and had no reason to disguise James as Judas. Besides substituting Judas for James to make it more acceptable to the Church in Rome would be like trying to make a book about Eichmann more acceptable to Jews by changing Eichmann to Hitler. The whole foundation crumbles when you ask why the author of Gospel of Judas felt the need to disguise James in this text but in the Gospel of Thomas Jesus tells his disciples that when he is gone they are to go to James "for whom the heavens and Earth came together". My opinion is that the Gospel of Judas was never intended to be taken seriously but was a kind of reductio ad absurdum to show the logical outcome of believing the doctrine espoused by those in Rome.
I had difficulty buying into the whole Judas/James theory as well. Does that mean Judas wasn't even a real person, except as an alias for James? If so, why does the Bible mention him hanging himself? Thanks for stopping in and sharing your thoughts with us!
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