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My Obsession with Judas

Dr. Yitzhaq Hayut-Man 26.07.2018 05:02
My Obsession with Judas - Bible study - Jewish-Christian

Preface to my book "The Truth about Judas - The Judas Code Revealed". The larger part of which is about personal spiritual experiences I had that led to writing the book

My Obsession with Judas
Preface to the book "The Truth about Judas"

It is fair to ask me (the author of the book "The Truth about Judas"), where I stand on the issues of Judas, and perhaps even why. To answer the why question I need to explain why I became obsessed with Judas, about the decades of struggling with these issues and the surprising turns and seemingly providential clues received along the way, including highly inspiring literary works.

I was born in Israel – then Palestine – to parents who had also been born there (my father’s father was one of the founders of Tel Aviv, “the First Hebrew City,” in an exclusively Jewish-Israeli milieu. Christianity was something utterly foreign, briefly mentioned in classes on Jewish history, and the only Christians I knew in my early childhood were our old Arab gardener and the British soldiers who disappeared when I was five years old and “Palestine” became “Israel.” When, after my military service I studied architecture in England, I had no problems with, for instance, going to churches for concerts, but religion had never been an issue for me. Nor were there Christian-Jewish issues when I continued my studies in UC Berkeley in the exciting years of 1967-69, though the many cultural issues of “the sixties” were of course present.

My dramatic, perhaps mythical, encounter with Christianity came in a very special setting – in Catholic South America, at the highly folkloric and quasi-pagan Carnival of Bahia, Brazil in 1974. It came when after three days and nights of dancing and living in the body, I found myself in a native church almost bursting with all its candles, images and statues (idols, according to my Jewish upbringing). Something happened there and, rather than feeling alienated by the seeming paganism, I took it all in and entered into its mythical world. Memories of the movie “Orfeo Negro” came to life, and indeed I seemed to see the Angel of Death walking the streets among the heaps of exhausted humanity. He (or it) came following behind me from the left, and for the first time in my life, I realized my own mortality and the urgency and poignancy of the passing moment. I then retired to the seaside village of Itapoã, where I started furiously writing a journal of what was passing through my mind, and there I soon experienced some divine visions, which eventually made me put away my professional career (urban planning) and dedicate my life-work to “the New Jerusalem” and the issues of the Temple of Jerusalem.

So I started a journey through the Americas, writing a personal journal, and one hitherto-unconscious theme that came out strongly in my wanderings there was the historic Jewish-Christian conflict. Bogotá, Columbia, was the first Spanish-speaking place I came to, and there I spent a few drizzly days in a cheap hotel room, reading a book that a friend had happened to give me in Brazil (I guess he thought it might deepen my encounter with South American culture.), the English translation of Jorge Luis Borges' “Labyrinths.” I was utterly amazed that anyone could write so well. The one excursion I made in Bogotá was to the top of the hill overlooking the city; there I entered a church and felt the strongest revulsion at the sight of people walking on their knees all the way to the altar. It was right after that event that I read the “Three versions of Judas,” which must have made an indelible impression on my mind, and which came to a head a year later.

During that year (in which I had been working as visiting professor in Brazil and  the USA), my copious journal notes led to a rather naïve book outline: “The Architect’s Guide for Building the New Jerusalem.” I embarked then in England on doctoral studies in cybernetics, under the guidance of a most remarkable and eccentric teacher, Professor Gordon Pask. There I was to discover that privately the world’s leading cyberneticians were nothing short of a modern version of the Gnostics, holding to various spiritual leanings (including Buddhist, Sufi and Christian mysticism), and that my own adored teacher was a genuine Christian mystic who saw his work as a contemporary reiteration of the work of the Catholic mystics Saint John of the Cross and Ramón Lull. When it came to discussing the topic of my doctoral dissertation, Pask was ready to consider my writing “The Guide for Building the Heavenly Jerusalem” as my research work, but then he brought literary reservations about what I presented (“too much coffee chat, Isaac” was his verdict).

The next morning I sat to meditate when I heard a voice inside my head, and the voice clearly said – "Write the Gospel of Judas Iscariot!" I was puzzled, but set out to write an outline and presented it to Gordon – who then agreed this would be it. For the next few years, I dedicated my creative moments to trying to comprehend the mind of Judas Iscariot. Recalling it now, I can’t escape the thought of a connection between finding the Gospel of Judas, in the Egyptian desert, and my experience of hearing the voice, which happened both during the mid-70's.

Three events in that long process were so outstanding or emotionally charged that they merit recounting.

One was soon afterward when I decided to return to my motherland, Israel, to work there on the dissertation. An English Sufi teacher whom I had met back in California in 1974 (Reshad Field) had advised me then (in a semi-trance state) that I should go to Patmos, Greece. So I decided to go there on my way from London to Israel, to start writing “The Gospel of Judas Iscariot” (I was unaware at the time that Patmos was where St. John had reputedly written the Book of Revelation). Traveling to Patmos overland by train, I reached Rome on Christmas night. This was too good an opportunity to miss for observing Christianity, and I drifted with the crowd to the Vatican and into Saint Peter’s cathedral, impressed with its architectural size, style, and pomp, even while classifying it in the back of my mind as idolatry. Then came the midnight hour, and the Pope was led through the passage, with the high priests by his side, delivering the Host to the people, who were scurrying to ingest it, evidently as a high point in their life. It was then that something in me seemed to burst. (I was not aware at the time of the meaning of the Host, and only now, writing this book, I have looked at the book Christianity in Perspective by Robert Wolfe [1987], which regards Christianity as heir to pagan mystery religions, whose main rite is of a mystic unification with Jesus by symbolically eating of his body and drinking of his blood, in Wolfe’s even more extreme expression “ritual cannibalism.”)

I looked at the Pope, who appeared to be a decrepit old man, and, sensing the weight of the countless Jews who had suffered because of Jesus’ Church, I let my mouth utter some invectives in Hebrew. Then the ritual was over, the crowd was leaving, and I spent the rest of the night standing by the Castello Saint Angelo, cooling my rage in the drizzle – again, still unaware of the Jewish legends of the Messiah dwelling right there, among the lepers. Years later, I found out that the Pope died within that year of my visit to the Vatican, and that his successor survived - after being appointed – only 33 days. I did not, however, become an enemy of Christianity – in Patmos I frequented the great monastery church, listening to the chanting, and in Israel I started writing the “Gospel of Judas Iscariot” at the Catholic Monastery of Ein-Kerem, while participating in an interfaith “Hope Seminar.”

Then, I happened to go to a Shabbat morning concert of Mozart and, at a moment when I felt completely melting with that angelic music, suddenly came to me the realization of how painful it can be, and has been, to be a woman. My accumulated sympathy with the poor Judas, reviled and victimized for so many generations, suddenly shifted to all womankind, and I found myself suddenly in tears. I did not hear any voices (apart from the Mozart music), but it was suddenly clear – I should be writing it not about Judas Iscariot, but about Judith (the female form of the same name). About the essential, but overlooked, involvement of the feminine.

In the end, I turned into writing a more ostensibly conventional doctoral dissertation, which I finished within a year. -- Y. Khayutman: “The Cybernetic Basis for Human Reconstruction: An Application for the Middle East.” Dept. of Cybernetics, Brunel University UK, 1981. Then I returned to the original task and eventually finished the play "The Gospel of Judith Iscariot.” I had accomplished what the voice told me to do. The voice never related to success in the market-place, though.

I came upon the writer Jose Philip Farmer in an entirely providential and propitious manner. I was advised by two different teachers to go to Scotland – to Edinburgh and somewhere farther north to the Findhorn community (the New Age capital of Europe at that time). Traveling by train for most of a weekend, I had just one night at Findhorn, where I felt unwelcome. The one thing I did there was to go to its bookstore and, stretching my hand and passing by the bookshelves with closed eyes, I picked off a top shelf one book that somehow felt right. To my surprise, it was just a Penguin Science Fiction novel by a writer unknown to me, something I might have easily found back at a Charring Cross Road bookstore in London. I read it later, and until the last page could not see any reason why I had been drawn to pick it. It was only on the very last paragraph that I found out that this book - The Night of Light by Philip Jose Farmer (1966) - was a most original futuristic re-telling of the story of Judas Iscariot. It seemed like an omen that I was on the right track.

I discuss Farmer in a later section of this text. My encounter with him proved to be one more milestone in what became my complete dedication to the Gospel of Judas, and to the book you see before you. The actual release of the translated Gospel of Judas provided me with the final impetus to bring my years of fascination with Judas to fruition.

The search for the Truth about anything is not simple. The search for the truth about Judas Iscariot, the odd man out among Jesus’ Twelve Disciples, is a demanding and delicate task. The journey taken by this book entails examining critically what hundreds of millions of people regard as The Truth, the Whole and Absolute Truth and Word of God – namely the New Testament. Perhaps even more daunting, this investigation is made not by a Christian, but by a Jew. So let me please comfort the reader and declare at the outset (paraphrasing what another Jew, whom every Christian knows and loves, has said - Matt. 5:17): Do not think that I have come to dismiss the Gospels or the Passion of Jesus. The intention is not to dismiss them but to help fulfill them. But to do so, we shall look at many directions and examine carefully that apparent antithesis to the canonical gospels, the so-called “Gospel of Judas.” Throughout, we use as our text The Gospel of Judas, Published by the National Geographic Society, 2006.

Our investigation will gradually show how this “Gospel of Judas” could change, and deepen, the knowledge already gleaned from the Gnostic writings about the sources and original intentions of Christianity, and how it might in due course influence world events.

In the traditional Christian reading of the events, as everyone knows, Judas is a traitor. Says the book of Matthew, 26:47, “While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’” Dante, in his Inferno, places Judas in the ninth (innermost) circle of Hell. Suffering in Hell more than the lowest, most despicable of other creatures, Judas in the Inferno lives condemned for eternity with his head inside the central of Lucifer’s three mouths while the devil’s claws skin his back.

The Gospel of Judas affords nothing less than a complete turnabout from the longstanding view of Judas as a heinous traitor. Judas is holier than the holy. Judas is supremely knowledgeable. Judas is a savior, of Christ, of himself, and of mankind.

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve apostles who were selected by Jesus as his close confidants and missionaries (Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19, 6:7-12; Luke 9:1-6), but he was unique among them in many ways that this book will show – was he a villain or a saint?

The name “Judas” is a Greek form of the common Hebrew name Yehudah (יהודה, Yehûdâh, meaning in Hebrew "thanksgiving" and “confessing”), which first appeared in the Hebrew Bible where Yehudah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob-Israel. Here, Yehudah-Judah came to seniority and leadership among these twelve. At Jesus’ time, most of the tribes had been exiled, and of the twelve-tribe confederation of Israel just the state of Judah, or Judea, was left, and its inhabitants were called “Judeans” or Jewish. Jesus’ own pedigree and status derived from his being of the line of the Judaic House of David, the expected kings of all Israel, making him a brother tribesman of Judas.

In the Greek of the New Testament, Judas Iscariot is called Ιουδας Ισκαριωθ (Ioudas Iskariôth) and Ισκαριωτης (Iskariôtês). In English translations of the Bible, the name Jude is also found. The name “Iscariot” (spelled more correctly “Ish-qrayot”) can be interpreted in several ways. First, it could designate that he came from the town of Qiriot in Judea, making Judas Iscariot the only Judean in the group of Jesus and his twelve disciples, since the others were all from Galilee (a rustic region north of Judea, with a different culture, and even a different accent). The Hebrew word Qrayot also means “cities,” and Iscariot can mean “of the cities” or “urbane,” creating a city-versus-country dichotomy with the rustic Galilean followers of Jesus.

However, “Iscariot” may instead derive from “Sikkari” the name given at the time to the more extreme zealots who opposed the Roman occupation of Judea and carried a small hidden dagger – called a Sikkah – to use against their opponents. The zealot leader Judas of Galilee founded the party of the Sikkari, so it is possible that all the Sikkari were in some way associated with Judas. Among Jesus’ twelve disciples there was another, Simon, who was called “the Zealot” (Matt. 10:4). The Zealots were looking for the Jewish Messiah who, they believed, would liberate Judea from the Roman occupation.

Now why is Judas worthy of mentioning and enduring recollection for the many? In the recently-announced ancient manuscript The Gospel of Judas, Judas Iscariot is portrayed as the closest and most exalted of Jesus’ disciples, he who faithfully fulfilled Jesus’ command and was destined to ascend to the greatest height in the Kingdom of Heaven. With the publication of that Gospel of Judas, the truth of the canonical gospels comes under scrutiny. By finding the truth about Judas, we may well find the truth about Jesus or, in even more ambitious thinking, The Truth in itself.


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