of The Secrets of Judas, by Dr. James M. Robinson |
Dr. Robinson probes a long-held belief that probably isn't true. He begins by looking at Judas Iscariot in light of the New Testament, and he shows that the idea of Judas as traitor conflicts with the Gospel accounts. This shows an inconsistency between dogma and Scripture. But, he doesn't stop there. Dr. Robinson does the same analysis from secular history, resulting in a fascinating and convincing case in defense of Judas.
Then, Dr. Robinson looks at a third resource: The Gospel of Judas. Once he introduces this document, he devotes the rest of the book to discussing it and its implications. And what implications there are!
Scholarly pursuits, especially history and archeology, strike most outsiders as dull. But Dr. Robinson's account of the cloak and dagger world of obtaining rare historical documents from shadowy sellers would have made for a good Bogart film. Indeed, I kept thinking of the Maltese Falcon while reading much of this book. So, it's entertaining as well as informative and thought-provoking.
Unfortunately, there's a potential fly in the proverbial ointment here. It's easy to get the impression that Dr. Robinson is perpetuating a particular Catholic teaching that fundamentally violates any serious reading of the Bible. This is the claim that
Jesus was referring to Peter as the "rock" on which he would "build my church." To accept this view, you must take the exchange completely out of context, ignore all that preceded and followed the exchange (including when the so-called "rock" denied Christ three times), and stretch logic like a rubber band. This is exactly what Roman bishops did in the Fourth Century to consolidate power in Rome and create the doctrine of a succession of popes going back to Peter.
I contacted Dr. Robinson through his publicist, and found that he is not at all perpetuating this teaching. He flatly stated that, and he related other facts to support his real position on the matter. So, any such impression was not intended by Dr. Robinson.
The reader can rest assured that this book is authoritative. Not only is it internally consistent, but it is also consistent with the current literature produced by Dr. Robinson's contemporaries in this particular discipline of historical studies.
In addition to being well-written in this age of pidgin English publications, this book was enlightening. It was worth the list price--definitely a good read. If you like books that are good conversation starters, put this book on your list.
But also put it on your list if you want greater insight into today's Western religious traditions--especially one that holds Judas Iscariot to be a traitor. This tradition may be one of the greatest cases of libelous fraud ever perpetuated. There's a reason for that fraud. Read this book to discover what it is.