2007-04-06

Archer and Moloney’s Judas Gospel still not quite right

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by Neil Godfrey

I have to confess I could not resist reading Archer and Moloney’s Gospel According to Judas — damn temptation!

It has the feeding of the 5000 miracle in it, but though the “Judas” version differs in details from the canonical accounts it is still not quite right as a narrative. How can one possibly imagine 5000 people flocking to the wilderness for a whole day with no-one thinking to take along a packed lunch — or without village vendors noticing where their clientele were headed and setting up stalls selling hot chips and things. Even if many did rush out immediately without this boy-scout forward planning how can one avoid picturing many to-ing and fro-ing back and forth between their villages and the wilderness parkland to collect basic supplies, like a flask of water at least, to keep them going. Or was Jesus’ preaching so spell-binding that they thought for none of these things? And if that was the case, then why the need for the food miracle at all? (No wonder there were plenty of leftovers — no-one was hungry after all, being so well nourished as they were on spiritual food?)

Unfortunately Archer and Moloney go one worse than the (real) gospels. They have Jesus sending the 5000 back to their homes WITH the 12 baskets of leftovers. Why? So they don’t get hungry on the homeward treck! How far away from home were they? They just had a meal that we are told satisfied them completely, now they are given far more in doggy bags to keep them from fainting on their way home! Presumably they walked all through the night and the next morning’s breakfast?

Then there’s the strange part about Jesus wandering down to Jerusalem with no more than about a dozen followers, plus women, and a ragged tail of others, — and with this size band Judas is all the while believing that this Jesus is (or should be) expecting to have the force to be able to proclaim himself King there and drive out the Romans. I suppose the authors were limited by their starting material, but this still just does not hang together right.

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Neil Godfrey

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