Saturday, July 14, 2007

Some Thoughts on the Tchacos Codex

Picture: Professor Wurst's presentation on the reconstruction of the Gospel of Judas at the Sorbonne, October 2006. Photo taken by me.

I have been working through the critical edition of the Tchacos Codex published by Kasser and Wurst. So here are some of my initial reactions and thoughts.

The presentation of the volume is beautiful. The layout with the face page photograph and the Coptic and English translation in columns mirroring the photograph is brilliant. But (and it is too bad that there has to be a but) the photographs are nothing more than pretty pictures. Because the pages were reduced by about 50% as far as I can tell from my own measurements, we do not have anything close to a facsimile. So it is impossible to use the photos for any kind of critical reconstructive work.

I don't know why, but I was under the impression that this particular publication was supposed to contain facsimile photos, an assumption that Kasser appears to have been under too, given his words in his introduction where he mentions full size color photographs. Yet we don't see anything near full size photos in this publication.

The long and short of it is that the book is pretty, but it is not a scholar's critical edition in terms of the usefulness of the photographs. I sure hope that the Society plans to do something about this (publishing facsimile photos, please?!), because otherwise we are all going to have to fly over to Switzerland to work on the text. This is going to continue to hold up the critical investigation of this Codex. I know that I cannot fly over to Switzerland to examine the original pages until sometime next year. So this lag time is going to hamper my own investigation and critical work on this very important Codex.


Patrick G. McCullough said...

Not that I'm equipped to do critical work with Coptic, but I was thinking the same thing about the photos. I actually said aloud to myself: "Well, what good are those gunna do?" said...

As there was no explanation, there can only be one conclusion as to why the full size photos were not included.

g. wesley said...

prof. deconick,
in a comment on the reconstruction of 52.4-6 from a previous post, you suggested that i contact prof. turner about his sorbonne paper. his email at nebraska doesn't seem to be active and according to the department site he's on sabbatical. do you know of another email address at which i could reach him? thanks.
grant adamson

April DeConick said...


E-mail me and I'll help you get in touch with him.