Crispin Guest receives a mysterious bundle containing an ancient leather-bound book. A rabbi helps to make a shocking discovery: it is the Gospel of Judas from the Holy Land. Crispin is quickly drawn into a deadly maze and a series of horrific events confirm his fears that there are powerful men who will stop at nothing to see the codex destroyed.
The Judas Gospel plays a pivotal role in Jeri Westerson’s new medieval noir mystery, TRAITOR’S CODEX, but where did the gospel come from, and what are the parallels between Crispin and Judas? Jeri discusses the inspiration behind her new Crispin Guest mystery here.
I first heard about the Judas Gospel some years ago when it came to light in the media. There are several apocryphal gospels out there that have a distinctly different tone from those accepted into the canon. I found them more elucidating than the ones we know well, simply because they speak of the people of that time period and how they saw the world, a distinct view with a distinct voice. The Judas Gospel just blew away all that the early Church was trying to make clear. It had an eastern mode of thought to be sure, but dangerous to the story the early Christian church leaders were trying to tell. The opposite, in fact. Obviously, it had to go.
It is thought to have been created in the second century by Gnostic Christians, an early Christian sect that believed there is special knowledge that only few people possess of innate human divinity. The Judas Codex likely came from an earlier Greek version. Gnostic gospels were suppressed by early Christian fathers like the Greek cleric Irenaeus, who wrote his treatise Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) in about CE 180. The only known copy of the Judas Codex (carbon-dated to CE 280) and written in Coptic, didn’t turn up until the 1970s, but through a series of intrigues good enough for a Crispin mystery, it finally turned up again in 1983.
Judas being the supposed traitor in the story goes along perfectly with Crispin Guest, a convicted traitor who feels his betrayal most keenly. Having treason and betrayal as the theme and bringing in factors that everything everyone believed could be turned on its head into my tale, made for an interesting juxtaposition. And, as always, loads of fun to write.
THE TRAITOR’S CODEX is available from 28 February in the UK and 1 June in the US. Read more here.