The Italian Almanac

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kiss of Judas

Italian News - February 25

The forthcoming publication of the 'Gospel of Judas' has sparked fears among some Catholic theologians that it could give people wrong ideas about the man who is famous for betraying Jesus Christ. The second century text, which was believed lost for over a thousand years, reportedly argues that Judas Iscariot was an essential part of God's design and, as such, almost a hero. Without his betrayal, Jesus would not have been crucified and so, the argument goes, God's plan to save mankind from its sins would not have been fulfilled.

This unorthodox account of Christ's life was written by an ancient Gnostic sect called the Cainites, which made a habit of giving a positive value to all the negative figures in Christian scriptures. The Gospel of Judas, written in Coptic, is one of several accounts of Christ's life which are termed 'apocryphal', meaning they are seen as questionable in some way and so not recognised as part of the Bible.

Although very little is known of the details in the pro-Judas story, news of its coming publication has already led the media to talk about a "rehabilitation" of the hitherto despised disciple. A Vatican official cited in the British press as leading a drive to give Judas a better image was forced to deny last month that this was the case.