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Good News for Judas

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Times of London: Vatican to "rehabilitate" Judas's reputation
When it comes to official Vatican pronouncements, it's usually good policy to be skeptical when reading summaries in the mainstream press. When the press reports what the Vatican is going to do in the future, it's best to crank the skepticism up to maximum.

That said, The Times of London might actually be right in its report today that Judas Iscariot "is to be given a makeover by Vatican scholars … on the ground that he was not deliberately evil, but was just 'fulfilling his part in God's plan.'"

The paper suggests that the Vatican's move is related to the planned publication of the so-called Gospel of Judas—which has been caught up in some Da Vinci Code-style silliness.

"Though not written by Judas, it is said to reflect the belief among early Christians — now gaining ground in the Vatican — that in betraying Christ Judas was fulfilling a divine mission, which led to the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus and hence to man's salvation," the Times says. Brandmüller tells the paper that the manuscript could "serve to reconstruct the events and context of Christ's teachings as they were seen by the early Christians, [including the teaching that Jesus always preached] forgiveness for one's enemies."

"In scholarly circles, it has long been unfashionable to demonize Judas and Catholics in Britain are likely to welcome Judas's rehabilitation," Richard Owen wrote.

In fact, Judas is almost always a hero in most modern depictions, or at least he's a conflicted protagonist whose betrayal was all Jesus' idea.

What the Times story really needs is a heavy dose of theology. It seems to miss the point that one can sin egregiously and still "fulfill [one's] part ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's managing editor for news and online journalism. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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