The Judas Goat: the Substitution of Christ on the Cross (cont.)
By Tracy R. Twyman
With this in mind, new light can be shed on a mysterious bas relief that can be found at the back of the famous Church of Mary Magdalene at Rennes-le-Chateau, France. It depicts Jesus making his “Sermon on the Mount.” But strangely, at the bottom of the hill he stands on is a little money bag, out of which an object, long presumed to be gold, protrudes. Nobody has ever satisfactorily explained the presence of this money bag on this bas relief. Most of those who have commented on it have claimed it to be a clue left by the church’s abbot, Berenger Sauniere, regarding a buried treasure he supposedly found on the church grounds. But it would seem now that this must certainly be Judas’ purse. And why is it placed in such a peculiar spot? Judas himself is not even depicted in the relief. But the church confessional is positioned directly under this mural, and a wooden crucifix is set on top, so that, when viewed from a few feet away, the crucifix and the money bag appear to stand right next to one another. Was Sauniere hinting at his belief that it was Judas, not Christ, who hung on the cross? If so, why is the purse shown at the bottom of a hill covered with flowers?
A prevailing theory about the treasure Berenger Sauniere supposedly found in or near his church is that is somehow constituted “incontrovertible proof” that Jesus did not die on the cross, and many think that this proof consists of Jesus’ own remains, entombed not in Jerusalem, but in Southern France. Yet if Judas had died in Jerusalem in the place of Jesus, where was he buried? The most obvious answer is what Acts and The Gospel of Matthew seem to be hinting at: the potter’s field, the “field of blood.” After all, it is specifically stated in Matthew that this field was used for the “burial of strangers.” In other words, it is a field of unmarked graves. If the secret of the crucifixion of Judas were to be kept, Judas’ grave would have to go unmarked. Perhaps the hill covered with flowers in Sauniere’s bas relief represents Judas’ grave. If so, then by showing Jesus preaching atop this hill, he is showing that Christ’s ministry is built upon the sacrifice of Judas. By placing this directly above the confessional, Sauniere was confessing his knowledge of this secret.
Yet in order to pull off the “Passover Plot” as I have envisioned it, the plotters would have to have first entombed Judas as though he were Jesus, in the tomb reserved for him by Joseph of Armiathea, who would have been in on the plot. Then they would have had to steal away the body in the middle of the night, and bury it in the potters field, thus hiding the evidence of their crime, while at the same time creating the illusion of the Resurrection. That this occurred is indicated by The Gospel of Matthew 28:12-15:
“And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”
The removal of Judas from the tomb may have been secretly depicted by Sauniere in one of his Stations of the Cross, as discussed earlier in this article.
In addition to hinting at his belief in the heresy of Judas’ crucifixion, Sauniere also demonstrated his belief in twin Christs. At the front of the church, on either side of the altar, are statues of Mary and Joseph, each holding an identical Christ child, although one appears to have slightly darker hair than the other. A recurring theme in the church involves the multiple depiction of two twin angels, identical in look to the aforementioned twin Christ children, both emerging out of a seashell. And one of Sauniere’s unsolved clues that he embedded in his redesign of the church grounds involves the repeated use of the number 22. Could this be indicating “two-two”, “double-double”, or “twin-twin” – in other words, “Thomas Didymus”?
If Sauniere believed this proposed idea that Judas Iscariot was Jesus’ twin, and that Jesus had tricked his rival brother into dying on the cross in his place, it would have shattered his Christian faith, but it could have also turned him in the direction of Gnostic Christianity and other, even more damnable forms of occultism. Such beliefs would have been regarded by his clerical peers as the highest heresy. This would explain why, after making his deathbed confession, Sauniere was refused Final Unction by a fellow priest.
So is the Christian cross really a “T” for “Thomas”? Certainly, the evidence presented in this essay provides sufficient grounds for speculating in that direction. It seems possible, if not probable, that heretical groups like the Cathars, Knights Templar, and the Priory of Sion may have embraced such ideas. Proving that these are the true historical facts is another matter, but considering that verifiable “facts” regarding the life of Jesus are pretty sparse, and that nothing about him has ever been proven, it hardly matters. But there is one more notable similarity between the characters of Thomas and Judas Iscariot as portrayed in the gospels: they are both described as having a weakness in the area of faith. Both are said to have “doubted” Jesus’ messiahhood, and in Thomas’ case, as I have said, “Doubting” became part of him namesake. One scene in particular, recorded in The Gospel of John, has earned him this namesake. (7)
The incident, described briefly earlier in this essay, occurs in Chapter 20, after Jesus has been resurrected. For some unstated reason, Thomas was the only apostle (besides Judas, presumably), who was not present when the resurrected Jesus first appeared to them. When the other apostles tell him of what occurred, Thomas refuses to believe their story. As the text reads:
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Something about this entire narrative seems altogether fishy. I have said how John’s gospel in no way makes mention of Judas’ death, and indeed the only gospel to speak of Judas’ suicide is that of Matthew. Most would assume that this detail is excluded because it is not worthy of mention. But why is it that in this scene, when Judas should be dead, or at the very least, no longer among the apostles, Thomas is referred to as “one of the twelve”, instead of “the eleven”? All of the other gospels make it clear that at this point in the story, there are only eleven apostles. Is the author of John’s gospel erring deliberately to draw our attention to something?
Perhaps the author is hinting (in secret code known only to initiates) that we, like Thomas, should not believe in the Christ who died on the cross. For why does Thomas find it necessary to see Jesus’ crucifixion wounds in order to believe in the Resurrection? Presumably, if God had the power to bring him to life after three days of death, surely He could handle healing a few wounds. But if my hypothesis is correct, the author may be making a totally different comment. The character of “Thomas” is expressing his disbelief that the person they have seen “resurrected” is the same person who hanged on the cross. Of course not. The person who hanged on the cross was dead, and it was not Jesus! Who would know that better than Judas Thomas himself? After all, it was his hands that bore the print of the nails, and his side that had been pierced. Even though the author of John’s gospel knew this, he could not say it, so he used the character of Thomas (who, according to my hypothesis, would have already been dead) as a literary device to impart a hidden grain of truth to this fictional account of the Resurrection. The Gospel of John is often described as a “Gnostic gospel”, for it is clearly an initiation document meant for members of Jesus’ inner circle. The truth about Judas is just one of the many secrets hidden within.