INTRODUCTION by the Rev. Dr. Richard Kirby
It is a solemn responsibility but also a luminous privilege for me, as a coordinating scholar in the field of religious-future studies, to he asked to write an introduction to this remarkable book. The new Gospel of Judas is much more than a curiosity. It is a unique document whose publication at the beginning of the twenty-first century is no accident. Spirited examination and debate on the validity and meaning of this Gospel are opportunities for a new dialogue between Christians and Jews on the fundamental relationship between the two religions.
The book you hold in your hands can serve as a catalyst for this debate and as such has value far beyond its intellectual contributions alone. The relationship between Christians and Jews has been basic to the development of Western civilization as it has evolved over the past two thousand years. The possibility that Judas may in fact have been Jesus' closest friend and not at all, turns on its head the myth from which anti-Semitism developed.
At this critical moment of world tensions, especially in regards to the Middle East, it is a Godsend to have an opportunity to reexamine the fundamental beliefs that have stirred negative rather than positive passions. It is in this context that the Gospel of Judas, is indeed, as all Gospels have been, "Good News from God."
In reading this book you as reader and student be open to some of the unexpected and controversial findings of author ῌayut-Man, who is not only an esteemed colleague but also one of those rare scholars who dares to explore the largest of human questions, those dealing with the future relationship between the Creator and the human family.
The Academy of Jerusalem, Dr. ῌayut-Man, and his book are an inseparable trinity. The mission of the Academy of Jerusalem is to bring healing, hope, and a new spiritual vision of planetary citizenship to the beleaguered family of humankind. In the past such people as Dr. ῌayut-Man were called prophets, and their job was not so much to forecast the future as to foretell the will or message of God to the people. Dr. ῌayut-Man is such a foreteller, though he is assuredly a normal man, who is also clearly a dedicated religious scholar, and indeed the most morally earnest man I have ever met. He personifies the will of scholars everywhere to discover a truth so profound that it will bring infinite hope back to the human race. Dr. ῌayut-Man is concerned with the global community of humanity. He has a fresh word of hope, and, although he finds this hope through his reflections on recent discoveries of so-called apocryphal documents such as the Gospel of Judas, his majestic hope is not necessarily tied to this particular text but has broken free of it and has become a new transcendental hope for all peoples.
The heroic paradigm, in Greek and other legends, permeates the thinking of Dr. ῌayut-Man. In his case, the hero is not the individual; it is the human race as a whole. To think along such lines is to be consistent with the genius of Hebrew thought, as we read in such commentators as Stephen Caiger in his book written approximately seventy-five years ago, Lives of the Prophets, and in many other expositions of the prophetic tradition - whether from Christian or Jewish viewpoints. Some illustrious examples include J. Lindblom in his Oxford work, The Prophets of Israel; Klaus Koch and his two-volume work on the prophets as thinkers published by London SCM; and many others who could be mentioned.
The new hope that Dr. ῌayut-Man brings is indeed a remarkable one. It implies that there can be what Abraham Lincoln called in a different context "a new birth of freedom" for religious thought, for religious community, and for global peace. In keeping with the prophetic tradition, Dr. ῌayut-Man believes that this birth of freedom can begin in Jerusalem and be a series of events that will be a kind of healing for the three Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His work is not only a vision but also a call.
It is an ineluctable fact for statespersons that the world is looking for supreme science. In reading Dr. ῌayut-Man's book, one has a feeling that this hope has been fulfilled. The consummation of all political science has been thought to revolve around the idea of the end of the world. This notion sometimes has been associated with the coming of the Messiah. All too often, these Messianic futures are associated with a kind of frenzy of human suffering. No more. Dr. ῌayut-Man gives us another way of reading not only the science of the time but the scriptures as well. He gives us a new way of thinking about Jesus and the Jews, about Judaism and Zionism, and about humanness and hope.
In fact, his work creates a new paradigm for comparative religion, which we might call "spiritual public health science." Dr. ῌayut-Man's allusion to such notions as the "laughing Jesus" is part of his compendious thought in which he shows a new way forward for softening relations among nations. The new Messianic future that Dr. ῌayut-Man envisions portends a wonderful new era for Jewish-Christian relations. It heralds and adumbrates a marvelous healing of the anti-Semitism that has besmirched Christian history and tormented Jewish history, and instead it inaugurates a new and marvelous era of Jewish-Christian cooperation. This cooperation means none other than the healing of nations. We can all rejoice at the coming of a new community of sacred social science and therefore a spiritual path for global citizenship.
Reverend Richard S. Kirby, PhD
President and Chaplain, Kepler Academy
Chaplain and Former Chairman, World Network of Religious Futurists
Executive Director, Stuart C. Dodd Institute for Social Innovation
Former Director, International Administration, International MENSA
Co-Author, "Christianity in the Age of Computers" and "Temples of Tomorrow".
See below for the surprising and uplifting
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