Judas the Misunderstood
Vatican moves to clear reviled disciple's name
JUDAS ISCARIOT, the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, is to be given a makeover by Vatican scholars. The proposed "rehabilitation" of the man who was paid 30 pieces of silver to identify Jesus to Roman soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane, comes on the ground that he was not deliberately evil, but was just "fulfilling his part in God's plan".
Now, a campaign led by Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, head of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Science, is aimed at persuading believers to look kindly at a man reviled for 2,000 years.
Mgr Brandmuller told fellow scholars it was time for a "re-reading" of the Judas story. He is supported by Vittorio Messori, a prominent Catholic writer close to both Pope Benedict XVI and the late John Paul II.
Signor Messori said that the rehabilitation of Judas would "resolve the problem of an apparent lack of mercy by Jesus toward one of his closest collaborators".
He told La Stampa that there was a Christian tradition that held that Judas was forgiven by Jesus and ordered to purify himself with “spiritual exercises” in the desert.
The move to clear Judas's name coincides with plans to publish the alleged Gospel of Judas for the first time in English, German and French. Though not written by Judas, it is said to reflect the belief among early Christians — now gaining ground in the Vatican -- that in betraying Christ Judas was fulfilling a divine mission, which led to the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus and hence to man's salvation.
Mgr Brandmuller said that he expected "no new historical evidence" from the supposed gospel, which had been excluded from the canon of accepted Scripture.
Some Vatican scholars have expressed concern over the reconsideration of Judas. Monsignor Giovanni D’Ercole, a Vatican theologian, said it was "dangerous to reevaluate Judas and muddy the Gospel accounts by reference to apocryphal writings. This can only create confusion in believers." The Gospels tell how Judas later returned the 30 pieces of silver -- his "blood money" - and hanged himself, or according to the Acts of the Apostles, "fell headlong and burst open so that all his entrails burst out" (Owen, The [London] Times, January 12, 2006).
[TBC: The mix of tradition, dubious scholarship, and unbiblical methods is yet another reminder that we must not forget recent Catholic pronouncements that "they should not expect total accuracy from the Bible" http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1811332,00.html.]