Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chronicle for Higher Education on the Gospel of Judas

Tom Bartlett of the Chronicle for Higher Education attended the Codex Judas Congress back in March. He did extensive interviews with the scholars involved on the National Geographic team as well as others, myself included, who have criticized the initial work. I think that the piece will be coming out May 30th. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE 5-26-08: The link has been located. HERE IT IS<<< Have fun reading this one!

P.S. Sorry that I haven't been on the blog in a couple of days, but I've been dealing with a few minor emergencies including a dying air conditioner (which is a living essential in Houston), cutting the bottom of my foot open by accident, and ending up with strep throat. Hope things settle down here!

10 comments:

Ian said...

It's already online:

http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i38/38b00601.htm

paulf said...

Good article, captures all the various angles.

One question I have is what would have happened to this text if NG had not agreed to buy it for the sum it did? Would it still be hidden in somebody's closet?

g. wesley said...

This is a really transparent and evenhanded report.

I was amused to read that in the revised popular edition "Ehrman, in a footnote to his own essay, asserts that Meyer 'has effectively refuted' the thesis of DeConick's book."

Grant Adamson

Ganieda said...

The comments by Prof. DeConick and her supporters came off as sounding self-serving and a mite mean-spirited, I think...I was disappointed there was not more collegiality. "Harsh" came to mind.

Richard said...

Richard B here. You have my prayers for a swift recovery from the illness and to getting your air con back! I lived in Houston for years and yes, it is necessary.

José Solano said...

What would be nice is for those who "messed up" to recognize that they "messed up" and just get on with it. If King has the integrity to “regret” her mistranslation and move on, well, Meyer may eventually do the same. But to do so he of course has to believe it.

Geoff Hudson said...

The scholars have not acknowledged or considered the Jewish heritage of the Gospel of Judas. They have not even answered the basic question of: why Judas? In his BAS article, Birger does speculate that Judas may possibly have been with the other disciples in the so-called guest room, but that's as far as he goes. Why for example, as Birger states in the BAS article, does the text end tersely? It ends in a sanctuary-like scene. There is no recollection of a last supper, an arrest scene on the Mount of Olives, or a trial or a crucifixion. Yet Birger is quite happy to speculate that the document is a criticism of the apostolic church. To consider this document only in the context of contemporary religion is surely not an even-handed historical approach.

Ganieda said...

I'm wondering why differences of interpretation of an ancient text – especially one in such poor physical condition with as many holes in it as the Gospel of Judas – are characterized as "messing up" or "mistakes." Isn't a multiplicity of ideas welcome and encouraged in any academic endeavour? Isn't this essentially a newly discovered codex upon which the initial work is still being done -- and so ideas should be welcomed from all sides? From all accounts I've seen, the NatGeo team has generously shared their work and encouraged input from other researchers. I work with medieval manuscripts, and there is nothing like this sort of rancorous dispute when we disagree genteelly over the multiple meanings of words or try to interpret scribal errors. To characterize such things as "mistakes" or “errors” is not only just wrong, it comes across as fairly hostile and embittered. I've been following this whole Gospel of Judas thing with some interest, but the current dust-up seems completely manufactured by three or four acrimonious scholars who just aired their virulent sour grapes to the entire academic community. Do you think we all can't read through the lines? One thing is for sure, it wasn't the NatGeo group who came off looking less than savoury in the Chronicle piece. Good grief.

Geoff Hudson said...

I think everyone must have been stunned to find Judas suddenly popping-up as the primary character in a second century document related to the worship of Jesus. Not only that, but this Judas appears to be very close to Jesus, so close in fact that he is the only one who understands what Jesus is all about. But this Jesus is so ethereal, that despite being clothed with a body, he can disappear and go to other places as though transported in an instant, and then reappear to communicate with his disciples, all in the context of gnostic religion of course. In Jewish terms, Jesus appearing is like the appearing of the Spirit of God as in the smoke of incense of the sanctuary, the imagery of which is pretty clear in the Gospel of Judas. Judas being there close to the presence in the so-called guest room is imagery of Judas as a prophet in the sanctuary. Criticism of the temple, the altar and the priests in the Gospel of Judas was a recollection of exactly the prophet's battle with the priests in an earlier day. The Gospel of Judas reflects not just a knowledge of the contempory Christian community but a knowledge of the true origins of Christianity that had to do with Judas, not Jesus.

Talon said...

Ganieda, good points. To me, the odd thing about this piece of work is that there is all this dispute over whether Judas was good or bad but I still do not understand how this changes the interpretation of the book.

Everyone seems to agree that it is a Sethian gnostic work that is critical of the "orthodox" church. But I doubt anyone yet fully understands who the authors were or what they intended.

Now I am completely ignorant about gnosticism, but it seems to me if you write a book or make a movie whether the central character is a hero or goat should have something to do with the overall point. We have a situation where scholars fight over Judas, but agree on much of the rest. I don't know enough to put my finger on it, but it still does not fit.

paulf