Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas

Apocryphicity » Blog Archive » The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas: "The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas,"

A translation (from a French translation of an Armenian version of the Jesus-Abgar letters) by Dr. Tony Chartrand-Burke who teaches Biblical Studies at the Atkinson School of Arts and Letters (a part of York University in Toronto, Canada).

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do you know where this money that Abgar sent us as a gift comes from?” And they said: “We do not know.” And Jesus said: “The father of Abraham, Thara, made this money and with this money he bought the cave with the son of Amor. The Edessenians took the money and bought Joseph from his brothers. And the brothers of Joseph brought it as a gift to Joseph in Egypt. The Egyptians brought it as a gift to King Solomon, and King Solomon made the door of the Temple with it. When Nebuchadnezar deported Jerusalem, he broke the door and carried it to Babylon. The Babylonians gave it to the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans gave it to the merchants, and the merchants gave it to the shepherds. And Abgar, having received it from the shepherds gave it to us. Now, take this money and carry it to the priests and say: “Jesus the Nazarean sent it to you.” And the priests, having taken the money, gave it to venal Judas, for which he handed over Christ. And Judas turned over the money and hung himself. And the priests gave it to the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Christ. And they gave it back to the priests and the priests said: “This money should not be kept, because it is the price of blood.” Then they gave the money and bought the potter’s field and made it a cemetery for foreigners.


I'm revising an article for The Gnostic #1, The Alternative Judas, which explores unusual variations on the story of Judas. To my surprise I began to find the material on Judas hilarious, and so the tone of the essay is rather cheeky. I hope that it won't come over as offensive. Anyway, I'm very pleased to have discovered this excerpt on r. Tony Chartrand-Burke's Apocryphicity blog. This midrash on the thirty pieces of silver reminds me of the legend of the cross in The Golden Legend, in which the piece of wood that is eventually made into the cross has a similarly long history of involvement with biblical events. Initially, Adam's son Seth took a branch from the tree of life and planted it on Adam's tomb. I wonder if there is some Sethian Gnostic influence behind that story somewhere along the line.
The Gospel of Philip plays with a similar idea in section 80, in which Joseph the Carpenter planted the tree and made the cross on which his seed, Jesus, was crucified. I write more on this in The Gospel of Philip Annotated & Explained, but it has just occurred to me that there may be a possible connection between Joseph and the demiurge.

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