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Harry Potter and the Gospel of Judas

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About 1,700 years after it was squirreled away, the National Geographic Society revealed with a grand flourish yesterday an early Coptic Christian text called the Book of Judas, which claims that the Betrayer was in fact a trusted confidant and collaborator with Jesus.

Unlike the account presented in the Bible’s New Testament Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — the new 26-page text, found in a codex that dates back to the third or fourth century A.D., states that Judas Iscariot was Jesus’ best pal and only betrayed him to the Roman authorities to fulfill Jesus’ own wishes.

gospelofjudasfragment “This lost gospel, providing information on Judas Iscariot — considered for 20 centuries and by hundreds of millions of believers as an antichrist of the worst kind — bears witness to something completely different from what was said [about Judas] in the Bible,” said Rodolphe Kasser, the scholar who led the arduous effort to piece together and translate the Gospel of Judas.

The view presented here coincides with that of an early Christian sect, the Gnostics, who believed that secret knowledge shared by Jesus with his closest followers could help them rise shed the bondage of the physical world and return them to the spiritual plane from whence they came.

The text begins by stating that is a “secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover.” Later in the text, Jesus tells Judas, “‘you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.'”

Okay, I freely admit my brain doesn’t function normally, but how many Harry Potter fans are thinking what I am thinking?

SPOILERS AHEAD

Will there be a Gospel of Snape? Throughout the Potter series we have been given two diametrically opposed views of Harry’s Hogwarts nemesis Professor Snape, who taunts and defies the young wizard cruelly in class, in school affairs, and as protector of Draco Malfoy, Potter’s hated rival and classmate.

Yet Snape — who we find out was the object of abuse and derision by Harry’s father and cronies in their school days — is also portrayed as Hogwarts headmaster and chief Good Wizard Albus Dumbledore’s most trusted associate and advisor.

SNAPE Is Snape a reformed follower of megalomaniacal mass murderer Lord Voldemort, working as a double agent at extreme personal peril to keep tabs upon the plans and movements of the recently reconstituted darkest of wizards and his coterie for Dumbledore? OR is he in fact a treacherous TRIPLE agent who spies on Dumbledore and the forces of good for Voldemort?

On some level Snape is clearly BOTH, but where do his deepest loyalties lie, with Good/Dumbledore or Evil/Voldemort?

The latter appears to be most bitterly the case at the end of the sixth and most recent book in J.K. Rowling’s series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, wherein Harry and readers witness in — literally — frozen horror the climactic killing of a weakened Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower at the hands of Snape, the Half-Blood Prince of the title, who then flees with Malfoy and fellow attackers into the blackest of nights.

Potterheads everywhere are speculating how Rowling will resolve the character of Snape in the seventh, and reportedly final, book in the series: Was sneering Severus Snape, like this new version of Judas, in fact acting out the wishes of the betrayed? As Harry and Dumbledore rush back to Hogwarts after the Dark Mark has appeared over the school, Dumbledore says, “It is professor Snape whom I need.” Hmm.

Was the apparent murder part of Dumbledore’s grand scheme? Was Snape helping free Dumbledore from “the man that clothes him,” or is he simply what he appears to be: the most vile and duplicitous of murderous traitors? Of course even from that angle Snape is fulfilling the Unbreakable Vow he made to Draco Malfoy’s mother Narcissus to protect the boy.

Only Rowling knows for sure, and maybe she hasn’t really made her mind up yet.

A special about the discovery, translation and ramifications of the Gospel of Judas will air on National Geographic Channel, Sunday, April 9 at 8 p.m., and is the subject of the May edition of National Geographic Magazine. And of course there is a DVD and companion books.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince comes out in paperback July 25.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    THis is evilly fiendish

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks, I think, Aaman!

  • http://www.chancelucky.blogspot.com chancelucky

    I’m not thinking Snape but he who must not be named himself, though I can’t picture JK Rowling sitting around with a bunch of old scrolls.

    It’s very weird,but I was wondering why an old post of mine about Karl Rove and the Gospel of Jud*s had been getting so many hits, it wasn’t until the National Geographic story came out that I understood.

    Karl Rove’s Book of Jud*s

  • Dawn

    I have thought long and hard about the whole Snape good vs evil delimma.

    While I can with no certainty be sure, it is my humble opinion that Snape was acting on the orders of Dumbledore during his more murderous hour.

    My reasoning has more to do with Dumbledore’s ability to see fully through most events to the very end and I can’t imagine him being so blind as to not realise that Snape is a traitor.

    Snape is an angry resentful man, but we learn that much of that is somewhat justified however, I do not believe that he is capable of killing Dumbledore for the benefit of the Dark Lord.

    I could almost as easily be convinced of the exact opposite.

    Such is the beauty of the story and Rowling’s ability to tell it.

    Great analysis btw!

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Dawn, I think it unlikely that things are just as they appear as well. There was an awful lot going on from the journey to Lake V. to find the horcrux through the end – lots of potential leads.

  • Eli

    When my friend first told me about the Gospel of Judas yesterday, my mind immediately free-associated its way to Harry Potter and this exact issue–the theory that Snape was acting under Dumbledore’s orders.

    Not that I think J.K. Rowling’s been scrutinizing the Gospel of Judas, but betrayal and faithful friendship is just one of those universal themes that’s bound to repeat itself!

    Thanks for this post… I felt vindicated for my own thoughts last night when I google-news-ed “Judas” and this popped up.

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    EO, with your permission, this shall be cross-posted so more can appreciate your insights

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Do you think Judas will sue Rowling for copyright infringement? That suit could be worth millions.

    On a more serious, less glib note… the parallels you make are interesting points of discussion.

  • Eric Olsen

    DJR, ask Dan Brown about the lawsuit, although that was in the UK!

    Eli, and you vindicate me! I agree these are pretty universal themes but the parallels are pretty stunning. For me the weirdest part was the timing, having just finished reading Half-Blood earlier this week.

    Aaman, of course, and I am flattered!

  • Dawn

    Just a head’s up for commentors – Lord *****mort is a banned word for some reason, so if you get an error, just substitute it. Clearly his rein of terror extends into the muggle realm.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    To play devil’s advocate here (a real play on words I admit) one has to remember that there were about one hundred or more “gospels” written circa AD 80-150. That said, the church has always maintained that only four are God’s word: the rest are supposedly heretical.

    Still, anything like this inspires intelligent thought and discourse, but my own reading of the gospels and thought about Jesus’s plan come into play here.

    Jesus continually relied upon the malevolence of human beings to take Him where He hoped to be: He knew Pilate was a son of a B; He knew Judas would betray Him; He knew Peter would deny Him but regain his composure and lead the faithful.

    Whether or not this gospel is genuine, one needs to remember that the “author” shades things as he/she wants them to be. Of course Judas thought he was Jesus’s best friend; one could say the same thing about Brutus and Julius Caesar!

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    Good extension of Eric’s parallels here in another direction

  • http://www.harrypotterforseekers.com Hans Andrea

    Surely no one can argue that there is not a great similarity between this Judas and Snape. This does not surprise me in the least, because all the great tales that have dominated nations for thousands of years are inspired by the Masters of Compassion who aim to lead humanity’s spiritual development. These great tales all have one thing in common: they are based on the Great Universal Trilogy: The Fall, our imprisonment in the undivine universe, and Liberation from suffering, evil and death. The Way of Liberation is an alchemical process that involves the transmutation and transfiguration of the whole human being. It’s a very radical process involving many organs and aspects of the personality, and these are personified and symbolised so that they are easy to understand. The one step which the majority of people have not been able to make so far is to understand that all the great epics and gospels describe a journey that each of us can go if we wish, and that the characters are aspects of our own self. All the characters in the New Testament, the Greek Legends, the Old Testament, The Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosycross, Harry Potter and all the rest, personify or symbolise aspects within ourselves. I see Snape as personifying our dark side, our occult experiences, our “Black King” as he is called in The Alchemical Wedding. Nevertheless, Snape is a member of the Order of the Phoenix, just as Judas was a member of Jesus’ circle of 12 disciples. A person who goes the Path of Liberation, whether today or 2000 years ago, has to devote his entire being to this inner process of bringing back to life the original Divine Human being. Every aspect of the alchemist has to participate and sacrifice itself to the utmost. This includes our dark side, the tendencies we have inherited from past deeds of occult experimentation, and of magic powers or mental achievements. When we do go the path of liberation, we cause the release of a divine force which causes our being to be cleansed, purified, and finally transfigured. This force is personified in the New Testament by the Christ and in Harry Potter by Dumbledore. There is a mystery to all this, because we human beings of the earth find it extremely difficult to understand the following: this divine force cannot achieve its goal fully unless it dies in us and for us. To put it into more scientific language: this force is of an extremely high vibration which is far above what we can tolerate. It therefore surrenders itself to us totally, so that it “dies” in us. It is absorbed by our earthly personality as it carries out its healing, sanctifying work in our mortal being. And this dying is caused by our friend Judas/Snape. It is this force of darkness within that makes the supreme act of killing the Christ radiation, and thus also signing its own death warrant. We know that Judas killed himself, and in The Alchemical Wedding the Black King submits to decapitation. This is why I am convinced that Snape will sacrifice himself. Both the death of the healing, hallowing divine force and the death of the black side of our character are essential to the alchemical process of turning lead into gold. Out of these two deaths arises the Phoenix which brings home the prodigal son to the loving arms of the eternal Father.

  • JK’s Brain

    I am very sad that the “Gospal of Judas” has come out at this time. Now I have to rewrite what I’ve already written for the darn book!

  • http://wildnaturegifts.com snapeluster

    Perfection.

    Read the article in my paper, now smacking self on head for missing the Snape/Dumbledore parallels.

    Yessss!!!

  • http://elronsviewfromtheedge.blogspot.com/ Elron

    Interesting take on things, lol. Nice examination :)

  • Matrinka

    Oh my goodness… I’m Dumbledore’s girl, through and through, so I still believe in Severus Snape… but the prelude to this blog is HILARIOUS. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Pure genious!

  • Eric Olsen

    Hans, fascinating exegesis – I agree these are fundamental mythic archetypes we are talking about here so he parallels aren’t surprising, but it should be noted that it is rather an astonishing accomplishment for Rowling’s work to be considered in these terms just a few years after their creation; in fact, in the process of their creation!

    Thanks snpaeluster and Elron!

  • Steve

    Dumbledore could also rise again, if he used a horcrux.

  • reggie Von Woic

    Steve,
    To have a horcrux he’d have to have killed someone willfully…doubt that hapenned.

    Some analogy you got there Eric, i look forward to the show 2moro!

  • Steve 2

    Interesting article, Eric.

    I agree with you Dawn as far as Snape and Dumbledore go, definitely a previously agreed upon plan between the two of them, IMO.

    Given the fact that both Dumbledore, and Arthur and Molly, gave their answers to personal questions that would identify whether or not they were being impersonated by Death Eaters, I suspect at least one of them (probably Dumbledore) is going to be impersonated by a Death Eater in the last book (kind of like Mad Eye Moody was impersonated by Barty Crouch Jr. in the Goblet Of Fire). Just a hunch.

  • with karate ill kik ur ass

    i havnt been here in years (well, 4 months,) but still!

  • http://www.thereasonfortears.com Eden-Avalon

    Though I recall at first reacting in a typical Dumbledore-Fan manner ‘THAT EVIL (various insults)’ as time went on and I studied the depths of this book I firmly believe that Snape was acting in accordance with Dumbledore’s wishes.

    I also believe Dumbledore will make some sort of comeback

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks guys, very interesting theories – I’d love to see Dumbledore make a comeback but she seems pretty consistent with “when the ‘good’ are gone they are gone.” Wouldn’t he at least be in his portrait in the Headmaster’s office?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Eric, I suspect that Dumbledore will be advising Harry from that portrait. Harry enters the seventh book seiously deficient in quite a number of skills, and will still need advice – advice that would best come from Dumbledore.

  • Steve

    I agree, Eric, I don’t think Dumbledore will come back from the dead, but I also agree Ruvy, Dumbledore will be in the portrait and may even be impersonated as I said above. It would be funny if he played a bigger part in the last book dead, than he did in the previous ones alive lol.

  • Eric Olsen

    good point Ruvy and Steve – one of the more interesting apects o the books is the relationship between the living and the dead

  • http://iam.bmezine.com/?veasy Veasy

    I’m a bit late because it took me a long time to consider that I could simply google – Harry Potter Halfblood Prince Book of Judas – to find out if anyone was thinking what I was thinking.

    Like some others said above, this was the very first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the newly translated Book of Judas.

    For the record (I am a 30 year old woman) I have never doubted Snape. To doubt Snape would be to doubt Dumbledore, who would not be what he is if he was that stupid. If Dumbledore’s judgment turned out to be foolish, then Rowling would be a dissapointment instead of being the greatest fantasy writer since Tolkien. I cannot accept that. There are too few good stories being told nowadays.

    As a Christian, I wish that I had thought better of Judas on my own the way I have Snape. I wish I had had as much faith in Christ’s choice of companions as I have had in Dumbledore’s. This makes me feel rather guilty.

  • http://www.myspace.com/otterpopsicles jessica

    IFDsj’lkgj’sdlfkgnsdlkfgj this sucks. I thought I was the only one who associated Snape with Judas.