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The Gospel of Judas, Second Edition Paperback – 6 Apr 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic; Reprint edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142620048X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426200489
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 571,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"In one sense, this document is huge news...it provides a touchstone for what certain people believed 150 or 200 years after Christ s death.""Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service""

About the Author

Rudolphe Kasser is one of the world's leading Coptologists. He is professor on the Faculty of the Arts at the University of Geneva. He has organised the restoration and prepared the editio princeps of the codex containing the Gospel of Judas. Gregor Wurst is a professor of ecclesiastical history and patristics at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of University of Augsburg, Germany. He is widely published in the field of Coptic studies. He is one of the two editors of the original Coptic of the Gospel of Judas and one of the translators of the text. Marvin Meyer is Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies and director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Chapman University, Orange, California. He is one of the foremost scholars on Gnosticism, the Nag Hammadi library, and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament. He is one of the translators of the codex and the author of The Gnostic Gospels and The Unknown Sayings of Jesus.


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The New Testament portrays Judas as the corrupt disciple who betrayed Christ, and this negative portrait of him, with additional hateful characteristics, has prevailed for centuries. Only in recent times has the figure of Judas been seen in the context of very ancient Hellenic cults in which gods have to be killed by a `sacred executioner' to be reborn, after which this sacred executioner is disowned by and driven out of the community.

These ideas were then incorporated into the teachings of the Gnostics, where the god becomes a Saviour figure who would descend from the Realm of Light into the Realm of Darkness to redeem mankind and then to return to the Realm of Light. Such and similar Gnostic ideas had an influence on certain groups of pre-Christian Judaism and then on early Christianity also.

So far these influences have been deduced by comparing parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and parts of St John's Gospel with Gnostic works; but the rediscovery of the Gospel of Judas gives us a text that is so explicitly Gnostic that it actually wholly subverts the message of the Gospels in the New Testament. As a result it was of course declared heretical by Bishop Irenaeus in 180 and suppressed. Its text was lost until a manuscript of it in Coptic, dating to around 300 AD, was found in Egypt in around 1978; its fragments, making up 85% of the original, were painstakingly reassembled; and the work was finally published in 2006. The book under review gives us a translation of the reconstituted text, followed by four illuminating essays of explanation and commentary. That by Bart D.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides a translation of the recently discovered Gospel of Judas. After a short introduction we are straight into the text, assisted by numerous footnotes. Some of the writing is very powerful - in a key passage Jesus tells Judas, "'you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.'" other sections are more obscure, assuming an understanding of Gnostic concepts. Fortunately the subsequent articles provide these extra details, so that by the end of the book you will want to re-read the original text now with a much better understanding of the concepts being used.

For a broader appreciation of alternative early Christian writings - such as the gospels of Thomas and Judas - I would recommend "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas" by Elaine Pagels which shows that a key difference between so-called Gnostic writings and those of more orthodox Christianity is the discovery of truth. In books like the Gospel of Judas Jesus is represented as teaching that the kingdom of God is within us, and we must search within ourselves to discover the truth. In orthodox Christian books such as the Gospel of John the light of truth is not to be found in ourselves but in Jesus, who alone is the Way to God.

So alternative early Christian writings such as the Gospel of Judas present a more open and pluralistic way to God, as opposed to the more exclusivist dogma of traditional Christianity.
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Format: Hardcover
This new book by the National Geographic Society is bound to be of interest. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the outline of the lost gospel being translated and highlighted here, it still presents an intriguing look into the early mind of Christians, who were a very diverse group.
There were originally more than four gospels, and literally hundreds of apostolic letters and manuscripts floating around the ancient world. These were of variable quality literarily and theologically, but it took hundreds of years for the Christian community to come to a consensus about what should be included and what should be excluded. Generally, Gnostic texts were excluded, and this lost gospel of Judas is most likely a Gnostic production, according to the authors. It was referenced by early church leaders such as Irenaeus, who argued strongly for the now-standard vision of four canonical gospels.
What is the issue with this gospel? The central idea that places this text as odds with the canonical gospels is that it paints Judas is a very different light - Judas is no longer the villain who betrays Jesus for his own personal gain, or because of his own spiritual confusion, but rather an obedient servant who, when turning Jesus in to the authorities, is simply following Jesus' own direction as a necessary step for God's plan to come to fulfillment. Judas is portrayed as the closest of the apostles to Jesus, a leader among the apostles, and thus perhaps the object of jealousy.
To be sure, these ideas are not new. Varying images of Judas and confusion about his role have been present throughout much of Christian history, with no single definitive vision of his personality nor his action superseding all others. (See the book on Judas by scholar Kim Paffenroth, published recently).
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Format: Hardcover
I will not repeat information about the book which has been covered by other reviewers. If you are thinking of purchasing this attractive looking and reasonably priced book you need to be aware there is now a scholarly consensus that the original team made some very serious errors of translation and completely misrepresent the figure of Judas in this gospel. This makes this book virtually worthless if you want to understand what the Gospel of Judas is about. For more information I would suggest you look at DeConick's "The Thirteenth Apostle".
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