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The Gospel of Judas: Its Polemic, its Exegesis, and its Place in Church History

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

The Gospel of Judas is a Sethian gnostic revelation dialogue which contains an unusual amount of narrative movement and casts Judas as recipient of the revelation. It is in large part polemic and is comparable to other early polemics, both of the gnostics and of their opponents. It inveighs against the eucharist and the clergy who celebrate it, attempts to substitute, for the supposedly inaccurate passion narrative of the four gospels, an account of the events as they really transpired, and sharply contrasts the character and fate of gnostic with those of catholic Christians. We treat first of its attack on the eucharist, next of its handling of the gospel narratives, and then of its polemic stance, comparing this with that of three other gnostic polemics, The Testimony of the Truth, The Apocalypse of Peter, and The Second Treatise of the Great Seth. In the light of this comparison we conclude with suggestions concerning the sort of situation our document might reflect, and the reasons for the selection of Judas as its protagonist.

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