Friday, March 30, 2007

The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says

It is now official. My book about the Gospel of Judas is in production. It is being published by Continuum International Publishing Group. The pages are being typeset even as I write this entry. The cover art for the jacket is being designed - a choice between a Giotto image (which I love) or an old Byzantine fresco of the famous kiss (which is iconic). The book will be released in October in hardback for $19.95. My editor tells me that in two weeks, it will be listed electronically in Continuum's online catalogue. I'll post the link when it becomes available.

Here is the catalogue description.
The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says
April D. DeConick


In 2006 National Geographic released the first English translation of the Gospel of Judas, a second-century text discovered in Egypt in the 1970s. The translation caused a sensation because it seemed to overturn the popular image of Judas the betrayer and instead presented a benevolent Judas who was a friend of Jesus.

In The Thirteenth Apostle April DeConick offers a new translation of the Gospel of Judas which seriously challenges the National Geographic interpretation of a good Judas.

Inspired by the efforts of the National Geographic team to piece together this ancient manuscript, DeConick sought out the original Coptic text and began her own translation.

“I didn’t find the sublime Judas, at least not in Coptic. What I found were a series of English translation choices made by the National Geographic team, choices that permitted a different Judas to emerge in the English translation than in the Coptic original. Judas was not only not sublime, he was far more demonic than any Judas I know in any other piece of early Christian literature, Gnostic or otherwise.”


DeConick contends that the Gospel of Judas is not about a “good” Judas, or even a “poor old” Judas. It is a gospel parody about a “demon” Judas written by a particular group of Gnostic Christians known as the Sethians who lived in the second century CE. The purpose of the text was to criticize “mainstream” or apostolic Christianity from the point of view of these Gnostic Christians, especially their doctrine of atonement, their Eucharistic practices, and their creedal faith which they claimed to have inherited from the twelve disciples.

Professor DeConick provides her English translation and interpretation of this newly recovered gospel within the previously overlooked context of a Christianity in the second century that was sectarian and conflicted.

The first book to challenge the National Geographic version of the Gospel of Judas, The Thirteenth Apostle is sure to inspire a fresh debate around this most infamous of biblical figures.

12 comments:

David said...

This is somthing that I really look forward to reading.

nbta said...

If we understand what the Gospel is...or what Gospel means, should this book really be called a Gospel? And if Judas was one of the 12 apostles picked by Jesus, why is the book titled "The Thirteenth Apostle"?

April DeConick said...

Dear NBTA,

A gospel is "good news" about Jesus. And in this case, it is good news about Jesus. But not about Judas. For him it is a tragedy.

Judas is replaced by Matthias (see Acts). So Judas becomes the "13th" and is thusly addressed by Jesus by this very title in the Gospel of Judas.

Geoff Hudson said...

I suggest that Acts 1.16 has been garbled, such that the phrase 'scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy' is a later interpolation by an editor looking to quote from a psalm of David (see Acts 1.20) in support of his changed narrative. Thus Acts 1.16 should be "Brothers the Spirit spoke , not 'long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas', but 'through the mouth of Judas'. I would also suggest that Judas had not 'served as a guide' but 'served as a leader or prophet'. 'Leader or prophet' in the original was the subliminal reason for the editor choosing the particular quote from Psalm 109.8 -'may another take his place of leadership'. It was Judas the prophet who had been executed and was being replaced. The verses describing Judas's suicide (Acts 1.17-19) are also later interpolation. The group now required another prophet through whom the Spirit could speak.

TheChristianAlert.org said...

Do you plan to have an audio book version?

I wish the book well, and I hope it gets some good attention and critiques (the good kind) :-).

Edgar,

John Carter said...

Only Mary Magdalene can properly be called the Thirteenth Apostle. Anyway back to judas... his actions where necessary to advance Jesus toward his goal. Judas's roll was certainly the most difficult and intrinsic of all the other apostles. I believe that Jesus did initiate him into the higher mysteries of his teachings and mission.

Mujtaba said...

what is your view on the gospel of barnabus, who was a trusted friend and follower of Jesus and was sent on a few very important missions with Paul. Why is his gospel not recognized?

Nzingha said...

I'm excited to read your book. You mentioned that "the desire for "a good Judas" may "have something to do with our collective guilt about anti-Semitism and our need to reform the relationship between Jews and Christians following World War II."

Perhaps. In fact, I think that's a large part of it, but I also think there is also the idea that if the ultimate "sinner" can be good, saintly even, then Christians who are knowingly committing what they consider "sin," will also be absolved of their wrong doing. If Judas is a saint, then our mistakes in comparison are just products of our imperfections as human beings and well, we can get away with anything.

stewart quark said...

In 1990 I wrote a book entitled Thirteenth Apostle:The Coming Transubstantiation. It adresses and expounds certain interviews found in the NatGeo program

stewart quark said...

In 1990 I wrote a book entitled Thirteenth Apostle:The Coming Transubstantiation. It adresses and expounds certain interviews found in the NatGeo program

stewart quark said...

In 1990 I wrote a book entitled Thirteenth Apostle:The Coming Transubstantiation. It adresses and expounds certain interviews found in the NatGeo program

stewart quark said...

In 1990 I wrote a book entitled Thirteenth Apostle:The Coming Transubstantiation. It adresses and expounds certain interviews found in the NatGeo program