World Famous Comics > About | Columns | Comics | Contests | Features

COLUMNS >> Tony's Online Tips | Law is a Ass | Baker's Dozen | Cover Stories | After the Golden Age | Philodoxer | CyberDen

Schedule TODAY!
Thu, November 30, 2023

Anything Goes TriviaAnything Goes Trivia
Bob Rozakis

Buy comics and more at Mr. Rebates

The Philodoxer
Thoughts on writing and publishing, and the various sources of entertainment...
A weekly column by Abel G. Peña, best known for his Star Wars work.

Current Column >> Column Archives | About Abel | Message Board

THE PHILODOXER for 05/14/2006
Judas: The Honorable Traitor

I bought a copy this week of the recently rediscovered and translated second century Gnostic text the Gospel of Judas. Fragmentary, the text is somewhat disappointing, save for its inconceivable redemption of Judas Iscariot.

Gospel of Judas

The man's story is short, and known to most Westerners. According to the New Testament, Judas was one of the 12 disciples chosen by Jesus Christ. He betrayed Christ, (a.k.a. God) to Roman authorities for a couple of bucks, resulting in the torture and crucifixion of Christ, and the redemption of mankind.

Intelligent persons of the empathic and dispassionate dispositions have long tried to expiate history's most notorious traitor, but not even the rediscovered Gnostic text, of a class known for its Platonic quality and emphasis on salvation via knowledge, can come close to the bitter perfection of Jorge Luis Borges' defense for Judas.

While the Gospel of Judas offers such blatant justifications for Judas' actions as the all-knowing Christ condemning/exalting Judas with the words, "You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me," Borges exonerates the man with far less than a divine pardon.

In "Three Versions of Judas," a story written by Borges in 1944 (found in the short story collection Labyrinths), the religious scholar Nils Runeberg puts forth several blasphemous justifications for Judas' betrayal of the messiah, all improbable yet disturbingly plausible. The five-page story itself is essentially a summary of the fictional Runeberg's heresies, and my brief summary will be thus more heretical still. In one version, Runeberg tells us that Judas was a good man, perhaps the best man, who understood what Christ was and his purpose; he therefore voluntarily sacrificed his principles and became a snitch to pay for God's sacrifice of Himself. In the second hypothesis, Judas is not only perhaps the best man, but rivals even the Christ in terms of humility: Judas was so devout, so good, he believed himself unworthy of the divine gift of happiness. In his piety, Judas methodically seeks his own damnation for the greater glory of God.


Runeberg's final and inexorable proposition perhaps explains this quote by Jesus from the Gospel of Judas: "You [Judas] will be cursed by the other generations--and you will come to rule over them." Runeberg concedes that Judas is squarely evil; in which case, he continues, God, the omnibenevolent, not only miraculously debased himself to the point of becoming human, finite, but to becoming the vilest man in all humanity, and spend eternity in damnation. Jesus is not the Christ, Runeberg reveals, Judas is.

Borges' Judas demonstrates the power and even inevitability of logic to transcend or annihilate itself, the invaluable trick that more famously made Nietzsche and Derrida frustratingly injudicable. Judas, like God, is ultimately inscrutable.

Happy Mother's Day, folks! See you next week!

-- Abel

<< 05/07/2006 | 05/14/2006 | 05/28/2006 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum and at Pop Culture Bored.
Also, visit my website at

Recent Installments:
NEWESTMany September 11ths (09/09/2007)
08/26/2007Madness? This-is-Reefer!!!
08/12/2007D'oh! I mean, Woo-hoo!: The Simpsons Movie
07/29/20075 Essential Self-Promotion Practices and "Closing the Circuit"
07/15/2007Spaceballs: The Book Review!
07/01/2007Kill Bush, or Death of a Perfectly Good Idea
06/17/2007The Cold War Comes to Iceland
04/15/2007Grindhouse: The Art of the Twofer
03/11/2007Of Vulgar Eloquence
02/25/2007Michael Wilson Vs. Michael Moore
02/11/2007The Last Weasel of Scotland
01/28/2007Don't Go Bush Before Having A Good Piss, Mate!
01/14/2007Labyrinth of Similitude
Archives >>

Current Column >> Column Archives | About Abel | Message Board

COLUMNS >> Tony's Online Tips | Law is a Ass | Baker's Dozen | Cover Stories | After the Golden Age | Philodoxer | CyberDen

World Famous Comics > About | Columns | Comics | Contests | Features

© 1995 - 2010 World Famous Comics. All rights reserved. All other © & ™ belong to their respective owners.
Terms of Use . Privacy Policy . Contact Info