Sunday, June 24, 2007

Book Note: The Judas Brief (Greenberg)

There are a number of tradebooks on Judas that are now appearing, and I will try to keep track of them (in addition to the academic books and articles) on my blog. If you hear of any appearing that you don't see me posting about, please let me know so that I can add them to my blog. Thanks in advance.

One tradebook that I have just heard about is Mr. Greenberg's book on Judas in the gospels and whether or not he really betrayed Jesus. Mr. Greenberg says no. His book has just been released and is called The Judas Brief. Mr. Greenberg is an attorney in NY city, but also a popular author who has written several controversial books on biblical topics. In his newest book on Judas and who really killed Jesus, he argues that "the Jewish authorities did not seek to have Jesus put to death and furthermore acted to save him and his followers and other innocent Jews from a crushing military assault by Roman soldiers. The true villain in all of this," says Greenberg, "was Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler of Galilee."

On his blog, he has posted his own reviews of Pagels-King and Kasser-Meyer-Wurst here and has a posting on the Gospel of Judas and its relationship with the Gospel of Mark here. He rightly notes that the Gospel of Judas is somehow connected to Mark.

I also discuss the connection between the Gospel of Judas and Mark in The Thirteenth Apostle. It is clear to me that the author of the Gospel of Judas knew and used the storyline from the Gospel of Mark as his basic story, particularly in terms of Mark's portrayal of the disciples of Jesus.


g. wesley said...

Not to worry about the name mix-up.

For your bibliography:

I just came across The Lost Gospel of Judas: Separating Fact from Fiction (Eerdmans, 2007) by Stanley E. Porter and Gordon L Heath, and couldn't remember whether it's already on your list.

Also, in several cases comparable to the Finlay article but written by a few LDS (Mormon) scholars is a group of articles that were orignaly part of a panel discussion on the Gospel of Judas at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) in April 2006 and later published in BYU Studies (vol.45 n.2 [2006] 5-53). As far as I know e-copies are not available; hard copies of the issue can be ordered at

The audience for the panel was LDS non-specialists and this is reflected in many of the articles.

Perhaps most useful for academic purposes is S. Kent Brown's statement that

"Twenty-five years ago, another BYU facutly member and I became aware of the aggregate of documents described briefly by Kasser. I was able to identify the James text in the Codex Tchacos from a very blurry Polaroid photogrpah, which showed the manuscript to be in better shape than it is now" (19).

This would have been about 1981, possibly before "Hanna" recovered the stolen codices, and before Emmel et al. saw them in Geneva. Brown goes on to derscribe a subsequent trip to N.Y. (the precise date he cannot recall) where he and "Mr. Bernard Rosenthal, a rare-books dealer from San Francisco," in person examined

"a few damaged leaves from a very early Greek copy of the book of Exodus, two letters of the Apostle Paul in Coptic translation, and a Greek mathematical treatise, [which] were then in very bad shape, having been wrapped in an Arabic newspaper and placed into a small box. When the owner and his agent opened first the box and then the newspaper, Mr. Rosenthal and I gazed upon a mass of documents that were dissintegrating before our eyes [i.e., Codex Tchacos?], with tiny fragments lining the newspaper craddle" (20).

Apparently Rosenthal told the sellers that it would take two years to conserve the texts, and Brown writes that

"Mr. Rosenthal's estimate of the value of these texts, only a small fraction of the announced selling price, minus the costs of hiring a conservator for two years, must have provided the moment that Kasser points to wherein the owner [i.e., 'Hanna' in ?] came to understand that his 'asking price was too high'" (20).

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