Friday, April 14, 2006

How Judas Got His Groove Back

Multi-tasking journo Christopher Hitchens knows a thing or two about holy and not so holy people, having defrocked everyone's favorite saint in his wickedly on target 1997 book, "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice."

Just in time for Passover and Easter, Hitch weighs in on Judas, who is belatedly getting a second lease on life as a pal of Jesus and all around good guy based on a recently "discovered" 26-page Gospel of Judas written about 300 years after the crucifixtion.

Hitch, writing in Slate, asks:
[W]hy did the church take so long to exculpate the Jews as a whole from the collective and heritable charge of "deicide"? It ought to have been simple enough to determine that the Sanhedrin of the time, whatever it may have done, could not have bound all Jews for all eternity. The answer is equally simple: If Christianity had to excuse one group of humans from everlasting blood-guilt, how could it avoid excusing them all? Two millennia of stupidity and cruelty and superstition dissolve in an instant when we notice that even some early believers were shrewd enough to see though the whole sham. On this weekend of official piety, let us all therefore give thanks for our deliverance from religion, and raise high the wafer that summons us to the wonders and bliss of the faraway realm of Barbelo and brings us the joyous and long-awaited news that Judas saves.

When the National Geographic Society unveiled the Gospel of Judas manuscript with great fanfare last week, it conveniently failed to mention that the cast of characters involved in its "discovery" included shady antiquities and art dealers.

The New York Times tells the tale.

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