Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Article Note: "A Critical Note on the Meaning of APOPHASIS in the Gospel of Judas

André Gagné from the University of Sudbury has just published a brief but hefty article in Laval théologique et philosophique 63:2 (2007) 377-383: "A Critical Note on the Meaning of APOPHASIS in Gospel of Judas."

Abstract: "This paper focuses on the meaning of the Greco-Coptic word APOPHASIS in Gospel of Judas 33:1. The most common way of translating this noun is 'declaration,' 'explanation' or 'revelation.' Experts often refer to Simon Magus' Apophasis megalê to legitimize this manner of translation. But in light of the use of plogos ethêp in the immediate context, this choice of words is difficult to support. Scholars seem to have overlooked another possible way of translating APOPHASIS. This paper proposes that we understand APOPHASIS as 'denial,' 'negation' or 'exclusion.' This primary meaning is coherent with the narrative role of Judas and with this gospel as a whole."

Professor Gagné has made his argument based on the use of APOPHASIS as a noun from apophêmi. The word APOPHASIS is defined by Aristotle as "denial" or "negation." In some Patristic texts it is used in negative theology - Apophatic theology describes God in negative terms. This means that the opening should read:

"The secret word of the denial by which Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot" (Gagné, p. 382).

This would make the Gospel of Judas about Jesus' denial of Judas, not his revelation!

By the way, Professor Gagné makes some of the same points I made in The Thirteenth Apostle: problems with translation of daimon as spirit; separate for really must be translated separate from; that Judas' sacrifice is not good, but an evil act and must be translated that Judas will do "more evil than" the others. More and more scholars are making very good arguments against NGS initial interpretation.