Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Misreading the Gospel of Judas - Book Review


An Agonizing Recounting of the Promise of Salvation




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Craig Martineau, reviewer: 8.11 - 8.13.2019



Book Title: Misreading Judas
SUBTITLE: How Biblical Scholars Missed the Biggest Story of All Time

Author Name: Robert Wahler
Publication Date: 2016
PublisherAuthorHouse

Introduction
The National Geographic Society gained the rights of the Gospel of Judas in 2006.

A panel of nine biblical scholars and Coptic experts (he does not identify how many Coptic experts) and “mostly Christian (again he does not identify how many) nor does he name names (I would expect no less in a scholarly work, especially since Christian Bible, identify the study commissions (at least in the full study format)?

Even a less strenuous edition lists the goals and reasoning given for the publication of a new gospel edition. The New International Version (NIV) lists the foundational facts back to the inception of the NIV in 1965.

While this book may have been intended for a smaller audience, his later remarks seem hopeful that he will score a much larger audience because of the success of the DaVinci Code and other works that have grabbed the publicity.

He appears to be derisive that “still no one” has requested additional information on his book or the Gospel of Judas.

He continues his dissertation on the Gospel of Judas with the report that Judas and not Jesus is the “sacrifice” in the man “who bears my name.”

He further states that the evidence is now “ours” and lists: the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocrypha of James, the first and second Apocalypse of James, “that all have to come to light in the last generation”. “All you need are these long-lost texts and the New Testament Gospel” to appreciate the mystic teaching of Gnosticism.

He disabuses the earlier dates of the New Testament writings and states that the “essential essence” of Gnosticism is “self-sacrificing and uses the example of Judas being the sacrifice” to explain the Gnostic example.

I read the three preceding reviews from Kirkus, the BlueInk Review, and The Forwarded Reviews. I believe they ‘took a knee’ in their faint praise of this book.

I am not a biblical scholar by any means so I took time to research validating the Gospel of Judas. Some disquieting information turned up in Google Searches but when I got into more in-depth uses Wikipedia, I took a hard examine of what Mr. Wahler wrote to see if I had misread some language. I have included the Wikipedia document at this link for your reference. https: The Gospel_of_Judas

I began to question the author’s authenticity shortly after I started reading the second book review.

After my review and follow on research, I decided that Wahler believes everything he writes is believable even to strong evidence to the contrary.

The first strong sign is when he states that “still - no one” has inquired about his book or the Gospel of Judas. He easily blames the panelists of experts as not possessed of sufficient knowledge to decide the fate of his book correctly and his prized gospel.

That the Gospel of Judas had been submitted to the International Conference Proceedings on the Gospel of Judas forty-nine times doesn’t pressure Wahler in the least. 

He continues to plow ahead like a good salesperson should. Location 112

It vexed me when he depicted the “handing over” of Judas, the new Messiah, just as Jesus was dismissed to return to the heavenly realms to rejoin his human form. 

He glosses over this significant fact by easily interjecting it at the point just after Judas receives his money and is spirited away to the Jewish leaders. I did not find what Judas did with his 30 pieces of silver.

This copy of the Gospel of Judas was thought to have been found in the 1970s. There is no recorded information exists because a trader later stole the manuscript and brought to Switzerland.
The 1970s date agrees with the author of this book Robert Wahler. 

The original manuscript was carbon-dated to A.D. 280 plus or minus 60 years. They found this manuscript in a cave near Beni Mazar Egypt. The codex was named Codex Tchacos named after “Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos an antiquities dealer who became concerned over the condition of the manuscript.”

We believe this manuscript to be based on an earlier Greek manuscript dated to A.D. 130-170.

The manuscript was leather-bound and the original self-titled papyrus was labeled Euagelion Ioudas (Gospel of Judas).

Today the manuscript is in tatters and scattered over 1,000 pieces. Some pieces contain several words of text some several lines.

According to Coptic scholar Rodolphe Kasser of the University at Geneva, the original text contained 31 pages with writing on both sides. When the manuscript surfaced for sale, it contained 13 pages. 

“The theory is that pages had been removed and sold.”
Iraneous of Lyon, A.D.130-202 (today southern France) was known for his role as the Bishop who helped guide the new Christian church.

He was known for his defense of the Church against heresies and defining what constituted orthodoxy. One of his fiercest battles was waged over the Gospel of Judas.

They translated the manuscript in the 2000s. It comprises 16 chapters and documents Jesus' teachings on spirituality and cosmology. Fully one-third of the text is currently unreadable.

It is interesting to note Judas is the only disciple that understands Jesus’ teaching.

This gospel contains ideas that contradicted those circulating in the early Christian church. An example is it refers to God as “a luminous cloud of light.” Adamas (Adam?) is seen as the father of all humanity who dwells in the cloud with God and Jesus in his humanity.

Enough of my notations and now I give the professionals time.

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and was on the team that tested the gospel and insists that no new historical information was to be found regarding Jesus or Judas.

Two historians Elaine Pagels and Karen Leigh King argue that a more nuanced and contextualized understanding should frame the discussions of Gnostic tradition.

Ms. Pagels also notes that Biblical translators have used “hand-over” instead of “betrayal”.

The National Geographic Society aired a National Geographic Special on April 9, 2006.

Terry Garcia, the executive vice president for Mission Programs of the National Geographic Society asserted that “the codex is considered by scholars and scientists to be the most significant ancient non-biblical texts found since the 1940s.”

James M. Robinson, general editor of the Nag Hammadi Library presents that it reveals no new information since the 2nd-century manuscript seems to derive from an older document.

April D. DeConick a professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University “opines in an op-ed in The New York Times, that the National Geographic translation was critically faulty in many substantial respects and, based on a corrected translation portrays Judas as a demon.”

She republished her text as The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says.” She stipulates that Judas was not a daimon in the Greek sense of the word. In Gnostic literature daimon always means demon.

Andre Gagne, professor at Concordia University in Montreal, also questioned how the experts of the National Geographic Society understood the role of Judas Iscariot in the Gospel of Judas.

“His argument rests on the translation of the Greco-Coptic term apophasis as denial”. According to Gagne, the opening lines of the Judas Gospel should not be translated as “the secret word of the declaration by which Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot” but rather as “the secret word of denial by which Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot”. (Judas 33:1). 

Gagne’s conclusion is that this gospel is the story of the denial of the true salvation for Judas.”

The National Geographic Society stands by their opinion in a statement issued on Dec 1, 2007.

I have reread the reviews published with the book to ensure my bias was not creeping in.

The first review ends “A tightly argued presentation of an explosive, Judas-centered counter-narrative.”

Another begins “Please everyone, read the Gospel of Judas as the Gnostic text that it is. Stop imparting New Testament bias into it.”

Another ends with: Misreading Judas may prove too 

busily written and thematically arcane for the uninitiated reader.

On the other hand, those interested in history, theology, 

and will find more to keep reading. 

Finding a stable footing in Misreading Judas is 


challenging at best.





Craig Martineau

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I just ran into a story I never have checked out. It is titled: "How to Become a Writer". I don't know why I didn't think of looking for it before.

The article begins (in wikiHow - to do anything by the way !) "The translation of human experience into an artful literary presentation is the art of writing. Writing is a careful craft that follows certain literary techniques and maintains field standards. Most fields in creative writing (from academia and publishing, to grant and technical writing), require a higher degree, including at least a Bachelor's degree, and, often, an MFA in creative writing or an MA in literature, journalism, or a related field. 

Now THAT is my problem! And I didn't know it. Why didn't someone tell me?

How can I expect to be a success, or at least earn a little spending money (I need $100 to buy a new video adapter so I can use two monitors at one time) if I don't meet the minimum requirements?

That explains why I was watching the truck pulls the other night. I was scratching my head (and it is BALD so it hurts) why I was watching monster truck pulls. 

They are LOUD even with just my little USB computer speakers. I can only imagine if I still had my old Logitech with subwoofer still hooked up!

This is what I was watching the truck pulls for

Seriously, the tracks were dark so all I could see flames


                                                    Most of the time all I saw was:


Trucks stopped dead in their tracks with blown engines.  I imagine those engines cost upwards of $10,000 plus the time of building and swapping them out.

Ah well, 15 minutes of viewing was enough for a lifetime. I would rather write book reviews. I will share two with you in a minute - if you promise not to throw something at me.

 More from the Writers - How? - Book

I peeked in the chapter on Nitty-Gritty Rules of Thumb:

1. Start with simple words - heck that's all I know

2. Stick with the short sentences - again - that's all I know

3. Let you verbs do the real work - huh?

4. Be careful not to use adjectives - what are they?

5. Be a student of vocabulary

6. Say what you mean - THAT's why I'm always getting in trouble.

I remember writing in the high school paper - what was the name 'The Indian'? I wrote an article about how the cops picked on us seniors for a party after a football game. (I don't remember that we won - but it was a good excuse for a party!) 

Mr. Volcker the journalism teacher, personally, escorted me to the principle's office for a lecture on good, responsible journalism. That sunk in real well. The next time was that I got caught smoking on the band bus trip to Canada! They stripped me of my Honor Roll status and kicked me out of the band.  tsk tsk   

Those crimes led to bigger ones of course - such as getting drafted into the AUS (the Army of the United States) I would not volunteer for RA -regular army.

I found a superb tool this evening. It's called Trello. You can set up Cards to keep track of the platforms you write for, the topics you are researching, the stats of writing the articles and when I finish writing them.

Shoot! I did all that on an Excel worksheet Sunday night. I could have saved hours! Remember, if I can't write I surely don't know how to type.



Well, that's enough foolishness for tonight. I promised to let you read my adventures into writing book reviews so hang on.

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