This gospel is written so that all may know the truth about Judas Iscariot and the role he played in the life and tragic death of Jesus of Nazareth. Judas Iscariot was a good man. All the other gospels are wrong. Chapter 2 1.
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Matthew portrayed him as a man willing to betray his master with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver, Luke presented him as possessed by Satan, while John gave him a father, Simon, and a role, as treasurer of the Jesus movement. Each detail was a small but significant embellishment on what would otherwise simply be like more than half of the other apostles a name on a list. It started the process by which Judas has become one of the most instantly identifiable characters in Christianity and beyond, the personification of wickedness and the original fifth columnist.
He enlisted as his unlikely co-author Professor Francis Moloney, a distinguished Catholic theologian, papal adviser and priest. Hovering over the launch was the question of why a man who has, over the years, been accused of betraying his wife, his party and his own past, should now so publicly want to rehabilitate the ultimate betrayer.
Like Archer, he presents us with an ageing Judas, rejecting tales that he hanged himself from a tree as tittle-tattle, and providing an alternative perspective on the Jesus mission.
Lazarus was really just a bed-ridden weakling who needed a kick up the backside to get him out from under the duvet. Judas, the insider who was also the outsider, provides rich pickings for those wanting to debunk the claims of Christianity. Interest in Judas has been sustained by one of those wonderful historical what ifs. What if Judas wrote his own gospel to counterbalance Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, a text that was then lost for centuries but which suddenly re-emerged?
Fictional speculations like these should have ended with the publication last year by the American National Geographic Society of the real thing. One problem is that the rediscovered manuscript dates back only as far as AD. A publishing cottage industry is now growing to pick over such questions. Both books struggle with the Judas who emerges from the lost manuscript — angry, homophobic and anti-Semitic. So, in the 13th century, in The Golden Legend the Dominican priest, Jacob of Virragino,gave Judas a chilling fictional back story as a serial murderer whose victims include his father, killed so that Judas can have sex with his mother.
The link between the wicked Judas and anti-Semitism has more recent form too, as the Jewish historian Hyam Maccoby demonstrated in his book, Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil. Among Nazi propaganda from the s are depictions of Judas as a sinister Jewish figure. In the 19th century, the celebrated French adventure writer, Paul Feval, portrayed Baron Iscariot as one of the two rulers of an evil kingdom in La Vampire. Biblical characters offer an odd combination of instant name-recognition, archetypal significance but inadequately fleshed-out personal stories.
Jeffrey Archer launches The Gospel According to Judas
The Gospel According to Judas