This is something that I found (once again) over at Wikipedia.org. I think the theological and philosophical questions it asks and ideas it presents are intriguing and fascinating. Perhaps there are no answers to some of the questions and no complete explanations for some of the ideas it addresses. While I myself do not agree or support some partsÂ of what it says, I have brought it here to Gather in the hopes that there might be at least some who may find it just as intriguing and fascinating as I did. This, however, is merely a portion of a much longer article about Judas Iscariot that can be found and read by clicking this link:
THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JUDAS ISCARIOT:
Judas has been a figure of great interest to esoteric groups, such as many Gnostic sects, because of the apparent contradiction in the idea of "the betrayal of God".
The main questions seem to be these:
Did Judas exist in his time only to betray Jesus just to fulfill the prophecy?
Why did Jesus allow Judas to betray him?
Was Jesus unable to prevent the betrayal?
Did Jesus willingly allow the betrayal to go ahead?
Did Jesus actively try to cause the betrayal to happen?
Why is it that the 'villainy' of Judas becomes greater and more pronounced as one reads from Mark to John?
Irenaeus records the beliefs of one Gnostic sect, the Cainites, who believed that Judas was an instrument of the Sophia, Divine Wisdom, thus earning the hatred of the Demiurge. In the Hebrew bible, the book of Zechariah, the one who casts thirty pieces of silver, as Judas does in the Gospels, is a servant of God. His betrayal of Jesus thus was a victory over the materialist world. The Cainites later split into two groups, disagreeing over the ultimate significance of Jesus in their cosmology.
Origen knew of a tradition according to which the greater circle of disciples betrayed Jesus, but does not attribute this to Judas in particular, and Origen did not deem Judas as a thoroughly corrupt person.
The early anti-Christian writer Celsus deemed literal readings of the story to be philosophically absurd, especially because Jesus knew about the treason in advance, and told of it openly to all the disciples at the Passover meal, as well as singling out who the traitor would be without attempting to stop him.
The text of the Gospels suggests that Jesus both foresaw and allowed Judas' betrayal. In April 2006, a Coptic papyrus manuscript titled the "Gospel of Judas" dating back to 200 AD, was translated into modern language, to add weight to the possibility that according to early Christian writings, Jesus may have asked Judas to betray him. While this seems quite at odds with the Gospel of John, where Judas is portrayed as an arch villain, the Gospel of Mark is much more ambiguous and could be considered to be fairly consistent with the stance of the Gospel of Judas on this question.
PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JUDAS ISCARIOT:
Judas is also the subject of many philosophical writings, including The Problem of Natural Evil by Bertrand Russell (a well-known atheist) and "Three Versions of Judas", a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. They both allege various problematic ideological contradictions with the discrepancy between Judas' actions and his eternal punishment.
If Jesus foresees Judas' betrayal, then it may be argued that Judas has no free will, and cannot avoid betraying Jesus. If Judas cannot control his betrayal of Jesus, then he is not morally responsible for his actions. The question has been approached by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, which differentiates between foreknowledge and predestination, and argues that the omnipotence of the divine is not sufficient grounds for eliminating the existence of free will.
If Judas is sent to Hell for his betrayal, and his betrayal was a necessary step in the humanity-saving death of Jesus Christ, then Judas is punished for saving humanity. This goes hand-in-hand with the "free will" argument, and Aquinas's Summa deals with the issue of free will in demons and other beings instrumental in the life of Jesus that are nevertheless damned.
If Jesus only suffered while dying on the cross and then ascended into Heaven, while Judas must suffer for eternity in Hell, then does Judas not suffer much more for the sins of humanity than Jesus? Should his role in the Atonement be that much more significant? As Borges puts it in "Three Versions of Judas":
"The ascetic, for the greater glory of God, degrades and mortifies the flesh; Judas did the same with the spirit. He renounced honor, good, peace, the Kingdom of Heaven, as others, less heroically, renounced pleasure."
Does Jesus' plea, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do," (Luke 23:34) not apply to Judas? Is his atonement insufficient for Judas' sins?
It has been speculated that Judas' damnation, which seems to be possible from the Gospels' text, may not actually stem from his betrayal of Christ, but from the despair which caused him to subsequently commit suicide. This position is not without its problems, but it does avoid the paradox of Judas' predestined act setting in motion both the salvation of all mankind and his own damnation.
The damnation of Judas is not a universal conclusion. The Roman Catholic Church only proclaims individuals' Eternal Salvation through the Canon of Saints. There is no 'Canon of the Damned', nor any official proclamation of the damnation of Judas