The Gospel of Judas

The Christian Science Monitor today has an interesting article on the Gospel of Judas.  The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic work that was taken illicitly from Egypt and sold to a private collector.

The article deal with the problem of whether scholars should publish stolen documents.  A translation of the text will be published by The National Geographic this Spring.  James Robinson is also publishing a book about the Gospel of Judas, The Secret of Judas: The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and His Lost Gospel.

Below is an excerpt of MacDonald’s article:

A Gospel’s Rocky Path from Egypt’s Desert to Print

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

When the Gospel of Judas first surfaced in Geneva in 1983, scholars wondered if the mysterious text could trigger a reappraisal of history’s most infamous traitor.

They never found out, however, because they couldn’t afford the $3 million price tag on this second-century gnostic tale. Instead, the fragile pages vanished into private hands and set off on a 23-year, intercontinental journey through fist-pounding negotiations and even periods, reportedly, stuffed inside a Greek beauty’s purse.

Now, at long last, the world is about to see the contents. The National Geographic Society last week reported it will publish a translation this spring, when “The Da Vinci Code” film is sure to rekindle interest in gnostic artifacts.

But the saga may be just beginning. That’s because thieves apparently lifted the manuscript from the Egyptian desert, kicking off decades of illicit trafficking – and an ethical dilemma: Is it right to pay for and publish stolen documents for the purpose of spreading knowledge?

“The present owners can’t sell it because they don’t have, in international law, a legal title to something that was stolen,” says James Robinson, one of the world’s foremost experts on gnostic texts and author of a forthcoming book about the gospel, “The Secrets of Judas: The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and His Lost Gospel.” “They’re trying to sell the sensationalism of the Gospel of Judas to get as much back as they can from whatever they paid for it.”

If you want to read the rest of the article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, click here.

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1 Response to The Gospel of Judas

  1. JustMaz says:

    >This is such a riveting subject. And I’m not talking about the swirl of controversy over the black market for art or that National Geographic is selling out. It is about the transformational effect this document will have on our understanding of who we are. Because of its topic, because it is unique and because it is thousands of years old, these writings tell the story not just of the Canites, or early Christianity, or just Judas for that matter, but of countless generations that followed and billions of people living today.Having said that, it is without a doubt that the greed-induced, negligent behavior of shady art dealers caused irreversible damage to this ancient codex containing the “lost” Gospel of Judas (Iscariot).From both an aesthetic and historical perspective, all of mankind benefits with the knowledge gleaned from such finds, not to mention the appreciation of our descendents’ skill and craft. And for artifacts as old as these, time has already done a number on them. It disgusts me to think how much more of this Gnostic text would have survived if it were not for the willful negligence of, amongst many others, art dealer Nico Koutolakis, dealer Frieda Chakos and, most likely, a handful of crooked Egyptian border and customs supervisors.In this specific case, we are where we are. I feel the National Geographic Society is doing what it can to at least allow the world access to these ancestral gifts. Luckily, these highly vulnerable leather-bound parchments are being stored and studied in a responsible way. Yes, there is commercialization, and people are profiting. But I would rather have it that way than no way at all.Such objects may still be hidden in this underground world of stolen antiquities. More finds will be discovered in the field. The world should declare a treaty that assigns special status to antiquities which meet selective criteria in the same way a building may be deemed an Historical Landmark. It would be a crime to prevent proper conservation, active restoration and open access to these artifacts, present and future. A temporary amnesty and perhaps financial gain could be provided to current possessors as a way to find what we can. Additionally, those that find and bring such treasures to the light of day deserve compensation and reward. Maybe something like a Nobel Prize – Light.


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