Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas, we were told by National Geographic, portrays not a traitor but a hero who was doing exactly what Jesus wanted him to do. Thomas Bartlett, for The Chronicle Review, reports fascinatingly on the scholarly disputes that ensued. The translation seems, at the very least, to have been rather flawed.
When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled at a news conference in April 2006, it made headlines around the world — with nearly all of those articles touting the new and improved Judas. "In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal," read the headline in The New York Times. The British paper The Guardian called it "a radical makeover for one of the worst reputations in history." A documentary that aired a few days later on National Geographic's cable channel also pushed the Judas-as-hero theme. The premiere attracted four million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated program in the channel's history, behind only a documentary on September 11.

But almost immediately, other scholars began to take issue with the interpretation of Meyer and the rest of the National Geographic team. They didn't see a good Judas at all. In fact, this Judas seemed more evil than ever. Those early voices of dissent have since grown into a chorus, some of whom argue that National Geographic's handling of the project amounts to scholarly malpractice. It's a perfect example, critics argue, of what can happen when commercial considerations are allowed to ride roughshod over careful research. What's more, the controversy has strained friendships in this small community of religion scholars — causing some on both sides of the argument to feel, in a word, betrayed. [the article]
The National Geographic "The Lost Gospel of Judas" site

Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily for the reference. That site almost invariably links to two or three interesting articles or book reviews each and every day.

The Betrayal of Judas -