Thursday, June 21, 2007

Breaking News about the Critical Edition for Judas

Gregor Wurst kindly e-mailed me this afternoon, to tell me that (hooray!) the critical edition of the Tchacos Codex is published. Here is the link to Amazon if you want to purchase it as a very discounted price. The book is called The Gospel of Judas, Critical Edition: Together with the Letter of Peter to Phillip, James, and a Book of Allogenes from Codex Tchacos. Finally the photos are published.

Book Description from Amazon
For the first time in a single volume, discover the complete text of Codex Tchacos—the remarkable ancient papyrus book that contains the Gospel of Judas. Hidden for 1,600 years in an Egyptian cave, only to be found, traded, and all but destroyed before its restoration began in 2001, Codex Tchacos contains four texts that shed important light on the ancient world and the emergence of Christianity.

Featuring beautifully rendered, full-color photographs of the original papyrus pages alongside the Coptic text and its English translation, this critical edition provides everything needed for a full examination of the Codex. The Letter of Peter to Philip provides a mystical, Gnostic picture of Jesus; the text entitled James presents Jesus discussing the meaning of life and death with his brother James; the Gospel of Judas casts a new light on Judas' betrayal; and the previously unknown book of Allogenes, though fragmentary, portrays Jesus as a stranger who brings light to a world of darkness. Ideal for the scholar and layperson alike, these texts are published here by an international team of scholars and supplemented by insightful introductions, indices, and other revealing, explanatory essays.


g. wesley said...

i'm hoping that my copy will arive today. excited to see the photos, especially of the alleged seth/christ archon passage.

April DeConick said...


Yes, now the fun begins. From my memory of seeing this passage projected at the conference at the Sorbonne, the -eth is clear, but there is a lacunae in front of that. So the question becomes, what can fit in the lacunae. Are there any ink traces to contend with? Sometimes you can tell this from photos, and sometimes not. I found with my work on manuscripts that the photos are often misleading because you can't differentiate between an ink trace and a shadow and a smudge of something that isn't ink. In a photo, these all look the same. But on the original, they are distinguishable.

g. wesley said...

Prof. DeConick,

Was this Prof. Turner's presentation?

As I remember, you mentioned in a comment on a previous post that you found his reconstruction (more) convincing and used it for your translation in 13th Apostle, correct?

The photo in the critcal edition is frustratingly small. I see half of what seems to be a theta (or omicron?), but before it, only a single tiny trace of what looks like the bottom of a verticle stroke.

The editors' note on the reconstruction "[Se]th" reads: "the letter before theta is certainly not omega, so the name ath]oth that we find in the parallel texts (cf. the Secret Book of John and the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit) is excluded. If we expect a vowel here, the traces are only compatible with an eta" [I have spelled out/transliterated the Coptic].

The only reference to an archon Seth of which I'm aware is in Epiphanius (Panarion 26) where he seems to be confusing Ialdabaoth's subordinates with the four luminaries of the pleroma (after Seth he lists Dade[=David?]).

"[Se]th" works in terms of space and the assumption of an eta before the theta, but then there's the issue of explaining why a text that speaks of the "incorruptible [generation] of Seth" (49, 5-6) among the luminaries of the pleroma would also place Seth as ruler of Hades under Ialdabaoth, not to mention the glaring inconsitancy with other Sethian texts.

Do you think that the restoration "[Se]th" stems from the ruler being qualified as the one "who is called the Christ" [Coptic: pechc], the editors (wrongly)understanding "Christ" here to refer the the Savior/Seth? Do you know whether this is the editors' interpretation of the passage? Was this addressed at the Sorbonne conference or since?

Whatever the ruler's name, it seems to me that "Christ" cannot be refering to the Savior but is a mimetic title (blasphemously) applied to an evil being, cf. Ap. John: "And he [Ialdabaoth] named each power beginning with the highest: the first is Goodness [Coptic: tmntchrc; Greek: chrestos?] with the first (authority) Athoth" (II 12,13-16 [NHMS 33:75]).

(The abbreviation "chs" in Gos. Judas may not be short for Christos but Chrestos.)

Sorry for the length. I'm really interested in this (it forms part of my MA thesis) and would love your feedback. To what extent did Prof. Turner in his presentation and do you in 13th Apostle treat the issue? Lastly, do know whether the Sorbonne papers will be published? I'd like to get a copy of Prof. Turner's presention.

Grant Adamson

April DeConick said...


Yes yes! you are on the right track! Remember that the vowels in these names are always shifting. Nebruel is Nebro, Athoth could be Atheth. And yes chs does not have to be an abbreviation for Christos. In fact it cannot given the context. Christ is never an archon over Hades. So other alternatives like chrestos are more likely. This is the kind of proposal that John Turner has suggested, and which I too think highly probable and write about in The Thirteenth Apostle. His paper is being published in Madeleine Scopello's book on the Judas conference held in Paris - NHMS: Brill. Why not contact Professor Turner directly and ask him about it? He is at the University of Nebraska.

I was afraid that the photos would not be useful for reconstructive work.

April DeConick said...

I'm sorry, I just noticed that your name is Grant, not Greg. Why have I assumed this? Forgive me.