Joodse Gnostiek in die ‘Evangelie van Judas’
Thesis (MPhil (Ancient Studies)--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.
Recent studies, especially since the Nag Hammadi discoveries, indicate that “Gnosticism” often functions as a constructed “Other” in attempts to define Christian orthodoxy, as well as a catch-phrase for a range of diverse religious phenomena in late Hellenism. If the unity of Gnosticism is a construct, the search for a single origin of Gnosticism is probably also futile. Rather, the influence of several sources – Platonic, Christian, Iranian, existential and Jewish – to the Gnostic phenomena should be studied. Texts labled Sethian by modern scholars show strong traces of a Jewish cosmology, vocabulary and mythology. Five possible routes for the transmission of Jewish motifs to Sethian Gnosticism are pointed out: failed apocalyptic expectations (Grant); allegorical interpretations of the Law among Philo and Alexandrian Jews (Pearson); Christianity as vehicle for transmission (Pétrement); Palestinian and Samaritan speculation (Perkins); and the influence of the Jewish Wisdom tradition (Rudolph and MacRae). Traces of Judaism in Gnostic Sethian texts can be located using a motif study. Fallon has done such a study of the so-called Sabaoth pericopes. In this thesis a similar study is done of the “Gospel of Judas”. The study shows that this text is Christian, preoccupied with a sectarian Christian debate. The apostolic church is denounced and a Sethian Gnosticism (noticeably influenced by Judaism) is posited as alternative. To that end a Sethian cosmological sermon, with strong Jewish motifs, is attributed to Jesus in which he holds forth Sethian cosmology as an alternative to a discredited rival form of Christianity. The most prominent of Jewish motifs in the cosmological passage of the Judas text are the names, functions and descriptions of angels, but it also includes numerological speculation and figures such as Seth.