Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Gospel of Judas Alert

I have been correcting the final proof for The Thirteenth Apostle and studying the newly released critical edition of the Tchacos Codex. I want to alert other scholars who might not be as familiar with the Gospel of Judas as I am, that there have been significant alterations in the transcription presented in The Critical Edition, from what was published on-line in April 2006 (which was a working draft transcription), and even from the pre-publication copies of the critical edition distributed at the Sorbonne in October 2006 and at Washington, D.C. in the SBL meeting 2006. So do not rely on either of these provisional transcripts for your study of the Gospel of Judas. You will need to gain access to The Critical Edition.

I continue to mourn the fact that National Geographic reduced the photographs by about 50% - they are useless for purposes of reconstruction and transliteration questions. Fortunately, I was able to discuss 35.24-27 with Gregor Wurst, and I am very confident that the transcription regarding these lines in The Critical Edition is correct.

The lines in question:
Gospel of Judas 35.24-27 should read: "I will tell you the mysteries of the Kingdom, not so that (oux hina) you will go there, but so that you will grieve greatly." This reading is entirely the opposite sense of the original provisional transcription: "I will tell you the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is possible that (oun chom) you will go there, but it is also possible that you will grieve greatly."

Gospel of Judas 46.24-47.1 should read: "In the last days they [missing line(s)] to you, and you will not ascend up to the holy [generation]." This reading is also the opposite of the first: "In the last days they will curse your ascent to the holy [generation]."

These two passages are very important for the interpretation of the Gospel of Judas because the manuscript does not support an ascent for Judas as the provisional transcriptions and plethora of scholarly interpretations said (and are still saying). And now we know the reason for the revelation given by Jesus to Judas: to provoke regret on Judas' behalf.

I was able to incorporate these readings into my translation of the Gospel of Judas, and in my interpretation, which will be published in about two months by Continuum.


Jared said...

There is a huge difference between oux hine and oun chom. Was it the diagonal line that confuses the chi and nu? I am trying to visualize how hine and chom could be mistaken, or, if the line is that difficult to read, how any reading could have much confidence.

Jared said...

I just looked it up, and, you're exactly right, the photograph does not really help. It is not the most difficult line to read, however, which just goes to show what a poor state the MS is in.

April DeConick said...


I don't know how oun chom came to be the first reconstruction because in larger photos the ink traces suggest oux hina. There appears to be marks indicating a very clear hori after the chi. And the rest of the letters can be filled in likewise.