Monday, April 10, 2006

"Gospel" of Judas

National Geographic has very graciously made this available online (pending of course additional manusript analysis and reproduction) in English (pdf) and in Coptic. Typical gnostic stuff, which means it will sound quite odd to anyone unfamiliar. Still worth a read, though. If anyone can advance a good argument for calling this a "Gospel," I'd love to hear it.

Thanks to Blogfather for this and loads of other info in a "megapost"; he also has an excellent review of this, which I was unable to watch as Natl Geog channel only comes to my mother-in-law's television.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if your question is meant for sarcasm, but the last line of the text actually reads "Gospel of Judas."

11:12 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Thanks for pointing this out. "The Gospel of Judas" at the bottom was in bold in the English text, so I thought it some sort of label, since it was in the same font/all caps like the section headers; but it does appear to be in the coptic text as well, even if a few letters are suspect.

11:23 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

I still think that calling this a 'gospel' could certainly lead to genre confusion.

11:24 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Chris Weimer said...

There is more than type of gospel. Technically, a gospel "euaggelion" is good news. Paul preached a gospel. As a genre, a gospel is a theological treatise in the form of a biography. I think the Gospel of Judas fits that description.

11:11 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Decent definition Chris, but there is so little 'biography' viz. the theological treatise aspect that I don't think 'gospel' is an adequate label. I'm not going crazy over it, just an observation.

Gospel also carries certain other connotations: military victory, etc, that don't come through. Paul preached a gospel (he would say "the' gospel), but he never wrote one.

7:05 AM, April 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Following Helmut Koester's research in his book Ancient Christian Gospels, the words "Gospel of Judas" should be taken as a scribal colophon imitating the way the four canonical Gospels came to be idenitified. Thus, the phrase is secondary to the text, which actually provides its own title in prescript/incipit: "The secret account of the revelation Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated the Passover."

11:55 AM, April 12, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Thanks Derek, Great help there. I suspected something like that was the case, but couldn't put the data together.

I would say there needs to be something "narrative" about a Gospel...that in my mind is the key thing the gnostic material lacks.

8:45 PM, April 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "narrative"? If you read the Gospel of Judas, it is a narrative. It may be heavy on the "secret teaching," but this is set within a narrative. The Gospel of Judas may not have the number of episodes that we find in the canonical Gospels, but it does not lack narrative.

7:30 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger J. B. Hood said...


There are a few independent scenes that are narrative, but there is no narrative, i.e., over-arching plot to speak of, unless you want to say that two or three scenes form a narrative of the rejection of the 12 and the elevation of Judas. Not much to work with there.

The canonical gospels also show a strong sense of latching onto and "finishing" the Scriptural (i.e., OT) narrative, or at least providing the next big chapter in said narrative; the gnostic gospels writ large lack this. This isn't perjorative, of course, just an observation.

6:22 PM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger Chris Weimer said...

I think the argument will come down to: does the narrative have a plot or not?

And in any case, is the genre of "gospel" really a genre at all? Doesn't that presume that the Christian narratives are really good-news?

I think the Four Gospels need to be placed into an existing category category or, if none fit, a category of their own but with the features highlighted so other similar literature can fit or not.

Would the Krishna tales be gospels? What about the Socratic dialogues? Gospels or not? What's the difference between Politeia and To Euaggelion Iesou Christou?

11:39 PM, April 14, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any discussion of the genre of the Gospels need to take into account Richard Burridge's "What are the Gospels," which convincingly demonstrates the Gospels as fitting in the genre of ancient biography. Charles Talbert's ABD article on Greco-Roman Biographies also helps show the diversity of ancient biographies (sayings gospels, dialogues, etc.).

7:14 PM, April 19, 2006  

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