Monday, January 08, 2007

New books on the Gospel of Judas


We can all sit back and watch another deluge of books on the Gospel of Judas this Spring.

At the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair, there was a discussion amongst Prof. Dr. Gregor Wurst, editor of the Judas Gospel, and coptologist Prof. Dr. Stephen Emmel on the problems of restauration with Dr. Ulf von Rauchhaupt, of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

N. T. Wright says in a Christianity Today interview for Jan 2007 (scroll down if you follow the link--you know how wordy the good Bishop is);

I've just written a book on the Gospel of Judas. I wanted to write the book because the people who published the Gospel of Judas make the most extraordinary and grandiose claims for it and for the whole worldview of Gnosticism that it represents. They're trying to claim that this worldview beats orthodox Christianity hands down. [They say] orthodox Christianity is boring and dull and miserable and restrictive, whereas Gnosticism is exciting and dynamic and vibrant and countercultural. I'm fascinated at why all sorts of people in America and elsewhere badly want this to be true.

The title of the book published by Baker in Oct 2006 is Judas and the Gospel of Jesus: Have We Missed the Truth About Christianity? Simon Gathercole has a book in press with Oxford University Press on the gospel which should be out this Spring. And on the popular side, Geffrey Archer the british novelist will publish a book with MacMillan, The Gospel According to Judas, writes the Sunday Times on Jan 7th. According to Jeffrey Archer, 80% of the book is due to the Australian scholar Frank Maloney.

Elaine Pagels and Karen King have a book coming out in March with Viking, Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity. Eerdmans will publish The Lost Gospel of Judas : Separating Fact from Fiction by Stanley Porter and Gordon L. Heath. Harper Collins has already published The Secrets of Judas Unabridged by James M. Robinson. Doubleday must be jumping on the bandwagon, surely.

Newest scholarship (Louis Painchaud of the University of Laval) we heard from at the SBL in November suggests that the translation made intially in the National Geographic production of the text is mistaken in its optimistic assessment of the role and person of Judas. An abstract of Painchaud's paper reproduced with permission at Paleojudaica.com proposes that "A close reading of the Gospel of Judas reveals a totally different picture. Judas is guilty of sacrificing the man who wore Jesus, he is a demon, misled by his star, and he will never make it to the place reserved for the Holy Generation." Presumably we can expect a(nother) edition of the text by Rodolphe Kasser, the Coptic expert on the National Geographic team that produced the initial translation.

BTW, I'm going to be talking about the Gospel of Judas on February 8 at General Seminary in New York City as part of a series on noncanonical texts: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and Judas, Thomas, Philip and Mary.

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