Old News

My friend George Beke, in an online discussion of the Gospel of Judas, quotes G.I. Gurdjieff’s book Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson. The story takes place on the spaceship Karnak, where the horned Beelzebub, returning much older and wiser to his home planet after millennia of exile in our solar system for his youthful transgressions, is telling his grandson Hassein about the strange beings who dwell on the planet Earth.

About the “Sacred Individual” Jesus, and the apostles, Beelzebub says to Hassein:

“I will inform you, namely, concerning what is said in this contemporary Holy Writ, which has as it were reached them in an unchanged form, about the chief, most reasonable and most devoted of all the beings, directly initiated by this Sacred Individual or, as they would say, about one of his Apostles.”

“This devoted and favorite Apostle initiated by Jesus Christ Himself was called ‘Judas.’ ”

“According to the present version of this Holy Writ everyone who wishes to draw on the true knowledge will acquire such a conviction, which will also be fixed in his essence, that this same Judas was the basest of beings conceivable, and that he was a conscienceless, double-faced traitor.

“But in fact, this Judas was not only the most faithful and devoted of all the near followers of Jesus Christ, but also, only thanks to his Reason and presence of mind could all the acts of this Sacred Individual form that result … which was … during twenty centuries the source of nourishment and inspiration for the majority of them in their desolate existence and made it at least a little endurable.”

Beelzebub’s Tales was written in the 1920s (though not published until after Gurdjieff’s death), long before the modern discovery and translation of the Gnostic Gospels. Clearly Gurdjieff had encountered this Gnostic teaching in a living form elsewhere.

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