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Stop Sacrificing! The Metaphor Of Sacrifice In The Gospel Of Judas

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Chapter Summary

The metaphor of human sacrifice is not only applied to the crucifixion of Jesus. It also appears in the third scene, where the apostles describe their dream to Jesus. But what is meant with this metaphor of human sacrifice? Elaine Pagels and Karen King argue that it refers to martyrdom. They see the incitement to martyrdom by church leaders as a central concern of the author of the Gospel of Judas, which would explain the anger and polemics of the author towards apostolic Christian leaders. This chapter casts some doubt on this interpretation, which is called the martyrdom hypothesis. It argues that there are better grounds to interpret the Gospel of Judas as a polemic against apostolic Christian sacramental practices, with baptism as a re-enactment of Jesus' own "passover". The chapter concludes with the implications of this alternative interpretation for our understanding of the text's narrative.

Keywords: apostles; baptism; crucifixion of Jesus; Gospel of Judas; martyrdom; metaphor of sacrifice; Passover

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