Judas Iscariot, you might recall, was the disciple whose very name became synonymous with Traitor and Informant, accused by the Gospels of Mark, John, Luke, and Matthew of selling out Jesus to the Romans for money.
Now, more than two thousand years after the “crime,” it seems like Judas has come up with a defense after all. And as a criminal defense lawyer, I must say that it is a pretty good one at that.
According to the translation of the Judas Gospel, Jesus told Judas in private conversation to do what Judas in fact did do, turn him in. Thus, the defense is that Judas was not a conspirator in the legalized murder of Jesus, but was instead following the Savior’s orders, in effect carrying out God’s plan to sacrifice His Son for the sins of humanity. So, from a strictly legal viewpoint, Judas was guilty of nothing more than assisting in a suicide, which is apparently lawful in some jurisdictions.
What next? Can I expect a call from Cain, wanting to file a writ of Habeas Corpus to raise the defense of ignorance: since no murders had ever been committed before, Cain didn’t know that his act would result in death, or that it was unlawful to end someone’s life. After all, this preceded The Ten Commandments by... well, many pages.