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Re: Judas

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  • Gerry
    ... think there needs to be much debate on the matter since she say s Judus is doing evil by offering Jesus to the archons even according to her interpretation
    Message 1 of 48 , Nov 30, 2007

      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Nik" <nicholson2007wan@...> wrote:

      > […]
      > Well seeing we are using DeConick's viewpoint on what is evil I don't think there needs to be much debate on the matter since she say's Judus is doing evil by offering Jesus to the archons even according to her interpretation Judas has no choice in the matter. But Judas can not be inherently evil as he must have done some good in his life so he must choose to betray Jesus which would invalidate her interpretation.
      > […]
      > Nick

      Nik, perhaps it's too much for us to "assume" the Judas had done some good in his life.  I mean, would we not also expect that the other apostles had done some good?  Yet, clearly, they are mocked by Jesus in the Gospel of Judas  for their lack of understanding and their bonds to the Demiurge.  If someone is doing good deeds while in the service of Saklas, just how "good" (from a Gnostic perspective) can we really consider those actions?

      As I said in my previous post, I was far from eager to jump on DeConick's bandwagon in the beginning.  I still think I can recall some comments of hers that didn't sit well with me at the time, and I'll happily play Judas's advocate if and when I locate the actual quotes. 

      I agree that the gist of the initial National Geographic translation could easily be viewed from a Gnostic POV, especially considering how many other traditional texts were turned upside down to convey their heretical understanding.  In this case though (translation issues aside), I believe that DeConick is simply suggesting that this work might be even more effective as a Gnostic tool against the proto-orthodox rhetoric by remaining at least somewhat more faithful to the story with which those Christians were already familiar. 

      Similarly, as we often give consideration to the nature of Jesus/Christ when evaluating these texts, we may want to ponder DeConick's arguments concerning the "thirteenth" apostle.  Was Judas possessed by Yaldabaoth, or in some way destined to unite with him?  Was he just a regular man with the ability to choose?  Was he a regular man afflicted with the Counterfeit Spirit? 

      Like you, I hate to feel like it's necessary to write off completely someone like the character of Judas, but issues involving predestiny often bring me to that point.  As distasteful as it may seem at times, how did the Sethians view it?


    • pmcvflag
      Hey Sean and Gerry Sean ... both versions of this gospel work for me. I guess I have been moving further away from the literalism I was bought up with. I think
      Message 48 of 48 , Jan 3, 2008
        Hey Sean and Gerry


        >>>It might be just crazy logic on my part, but I am finding that
        both versions of this gospel work for me. I guess I have been moving
        further away from the literalism I was bought up with. I think I am
        seeing them both as, myths with a message. I can see messages in
        both versions that work for me.

        I think that they are both myths and neither one is the literal
        truth. Hmmm... I feel strange putting my thinking into these

        I agree with you and Gerry on this. It doesn't matter to me which
        turns out to be true. They both "work for me" as you put it. From a
        mythological POV, both readings seem to hold value.

        On the other hand you mention feeling strange about stating this,
        Sean. I don't know your thinking or feelings on the issue, but I can
        think of one thing that would make me feel uncomfortable about
        putting both versions on equal ground based on whether they "work
        for me". Imagine a person who hears what they wish from all the
        people around them. Are they really communicating? This could be as
        simple as "I want a cookie" and the person answering may say yes or
        may say no, but we hear yes either way (like the example in the
        Symposium). Or worse, imagine a person on a date who asks the other
        person for sex and only hears the answer they want whether it is the
        answer the other person intends or not. Is hearing what "works for
        me" always good?

        I think the fact that they are myths with a message is generally
        agreed, but does that mean we shouldn't worry about the intent of
        the author of the myth at hand? Many readers may assume that texts
        like these are a one way communication, take what you will and no
        harm done (as Sylvia Browne would tell us). I contend that there is
        still a two way communication, and the primary value is not one

        I am interested in the mythological value and how it works for us
        all on various levels. I simply mean to interject that the issue of
        what the author intended is not valueless.

        >>>It doesn't look like crazy logic at all. I find myself very much
        in agreement with your comments. I think that what prompted my
        initial reservations with Dr. DeConick's position on this subject
        was that she seemed to come across as saying that National
        Geographic's preliminary interpretation of the gospel was NOT
        Gnostic while hers WAS. That struck me as quite strange since I had
        no problem seeing that a "good" Judas might have indeed been the
        sort of twist on a traditional story that we might have expected
        from Gnostic authors. As I think I mentioned earlier, however,
        after finally seeing DeConick's actual translation, I believe that
        her version flows much more naturally—unlike the NG version that did
        come across as a plausible Gnostic redaction, but nevertheless left
        me with some nagging questions.<<<

        I think I had the same reservations as you, Gerry. As I have read
        her book I have found some of those reservations answered. I have to
        admit, though, I am still finding some problems. As far as the issue
        of translation, I think DeConick has made some solid points. For
        instance, when I read about Seth and Jesus as Archons in the NG
        translation it hit me as very odd. DeConick's explination hit
        something that was already nagging me.

        On the other hand, I find myself wondering about some of her methods
        when she is using the same format she says she is fighting against.
        For instance, she debates the word "exceed" (56), and says it should
        be "do worse than". She says that "exceed" could be taken
        positively, as in "to do better", and she is against that. The
        problem is that she is slanting the translation just as much as the
        version she is debating.

        To me, the word "exceed" could be good or bad. One could exceed at
        evil as much as good. While I see her point, I don't want her to
        figure the context for me if she is accusing the other translators
        of doing the same. If the word itself can be taken two ways, a good
        translator will not change that even if the context seems obvious.
        Even without knowing Coptic I can see that "do worse than" is just
        as poor translation as the version she is fighting. Her point is
        strong, but it is also strong against herself.

        She has made some important points about the possible evil of Judas
        in this text, but I still have problems with her assumption about
        the term "Daimon". In a way this point may seem unimportant. It
        really may not mean anything in this particular debate. However, the
        way she framed the issue seems to extend beyond this particular

        I guess what I am saying is that I think my reservations about her
        points are the same as the ones you express. Her points could be
        right, but her methods of reaching those points raise some red
        flags. I am not yet past those red flags.


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