Gospel of Judas Arguments One at a Time; DAIMON Dec 20

Darrell L. Bock's picture

We are going to work through the disputed elements on the Gospel of Judas one at a time. The first is whether DAIMON should be translated neutrally as "spirit" or negatively as "demon". Is Judas a thirteenth spirit or a thirteenth demon?April DeConick states in her book The Thirteenth Apostle (pp. 48-51) that this term is a loan word from Greek that has a predominantly negative meaning in Christian contexts. This is certainly correct. It does mean that on this point, the evidence is on her side of the debate.  Judas would be seen or expected to be a negative figure in light of this identification. The association is likely to involve Judas tied to the underling gods (the gods who created this earth, something DeConick notes on p. 101-13). One of the issues here is that any creature of this world with a physical element can be associated with this dimension, since it is the realm of created beings. At the least, Judas in this gospel seems to be working in light of these hostile spirits' influence.  Whether he is the representation on earth of the demiurge is a more complicated question that requires that Judas be like other Sethian Gnostic books, which is one of the questions that surrounds this book and feeds the debate, since some read this as a type of Sethian Gnosticism distinct from other such works.Yet another issue is whether Judas can have this evil association and still be seen as in the divine will and expectation-direction (i.e., it is evil in intent, but still within the plan-- and thus, ironically, good, as Irenaeus suggests). Thus it may be that DeConick is right about the translation, but that it does not turn the discussion as much as she suggests. These questions lead us into other parts of the dispute.

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