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Re: Judas

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  • pmcvflag
    Hey Gerry ... work) but haven t yet had time to review it with the scrutiny I would like. As one who was reluctant to embrace her claims early on though
    Message 1 of 48 , Dec 2, 2007
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      Hey Gerry

      >>>I managed to read DeConick's new book (mostly during breaks at
      work) but haven't yet had time to review it with the scrutiny I
      would like. As one who was reluctant to embrace her claims early on
      though (pending critical substantiation), I do find myself leaning
      now towards her view. I still have some slight reservations but,
      overall, I find that a reading of her translation leaves me with far
      fewer questions at the end. Basically, it does seem less

      I do have to read her book before I can know for sure. I am glad to
      hear that her points may be more cautious than I have seen her be in
      other correspondences where she had sometimes left me thinking she
      she was going a bit far. Beyond that the forum will hopefully
      forgive me if I raise some issues based on the few specific details
      that have leaked down to me by way of some of her articles,
      interviews, and posts (the latter two being certainly less serious

      >>>As Cari pointed out, DeConick places an emphasis on "actual
      words" and not merely the "concepts" represented in forming her
      conclusion. I'm not sure if Nik took adequate note of that part
      when he offered the three passages below:<<<

      Yes, and that is very important. There are some cases where other
      passages can provide very important context for translation of a
      word or a conceptual vocabulary, but in this case we do have to deal
      with the word itself.

      I was curious, since you have the Nag Hammadi Codexes and I don't
      would it be possible for you to make clear whether the passage I
      mentioned from Zostranos (#113) does in fact use the word "daimon"?
      I was not sure.

      On the other hand, I am sure about the usage in Porphyry,
      Iamblichus, and the Hermetica. My issue was not so much with the
      fact that perhaps in Judas this word should be translated
      as "demon", but instead her broad sweeping statement that it
      is "simply accepted" that the word daimon translates as demon
      (seeming to imply it is this way of all texts of this era). AND,
      even when it is (such as in Copenhaver's translation of the Corpus
      Hermetica where the term is used in both positive and negative
      examples) it is obvious that the word is still not being used the
      way it is generally understood in English which means even as a
      linguistic convention it does not support the meaning she seems to

      This is a real problem if she claims (as she seemed to previously)
      that the National Geographic translaters have absolutely no valid
      precedence for not using "demon" (which is not to say that she may
      not have the right translation, but rather she simply should not
      have used this particular method to argue the point because could be
      very misleading).

      BTW, I guess I should actually provide at least one example here so
      people can see what I mean. Sorry for getting a bit sloppy there....

      xii #1 ...... For the good demon has stated that gods are immortal
      humans and humans are mortal gods. .....

      >>>If somebody can indeed provide a Gnostic text that demonstrates
      overlap or ambiguity between the terms "daimon" and "pneuma," I
      would certainly be interested. I think this is the crux of
      DeConick's assertion on this particular point. Both terms appear in
      the Gospel of Judas, but their usage seems to be quite distinct, and
      considering how these writers articulated their thoughts (in some
      cases, even to the point of having to repeat the same key word
      numerous times in one sentence), I don't believe this to be the
      result of stylistic variation.<<<

      AH, that does make more sense. Of course, daimon and pneuma are
      never used as synonyms so far as I know. In fact, I don't think it
      would even make sense for the people we are talking about. It COULD
      make sense in English, but it would leave room for equivocation
      (spirit as in A spirit, or spirit in the general sense)... which I
      am whole heartedly for avoiding.

      >>>In the Apocryphon of John, I think one could possibly make an
      argument for a more neutral understanding of "daimon" as referring
      to one's "fate" in certain cases but, even so, I hardly see it as
      being confused with the sense of "spirit" that Gnostic writers
      generally conveyed when using the word "pneuma."<<<

      True again. Although I do suspect that the more positive role of the
      Serpent in the Garden in some Sethian texts was meant to help equate
      the Pneuma Haigon of Sophia/Zoe with the Agathos Daemon of the
      Hellenist mysteries, that is mere conjecture on my part and doesn't
      really relate to the debate about translation (at least not

      I am also a bit confused by her equation of "thirteenth demon" with
      the Demiurge. I can't seem to think of any other cases that do this,
      but she seems to state it as a given. In the Pistis Sophia there is
      the Thirteenth Aeon of PS herself. In Apoc of Adam there is a
      thirteenth kingdom for one of the rulers... but it is at the bottum
      not the top it seems. In Marsanes there is the thirteenth seal that
      leads into truth of the spiritual realm. If she simply means to
      point out that he is an outsider from the other twelve, then could
      Judas not just as easily be equated with the Archon Sabaoth who is
      in some cases saved and placed above the Demiurge?

      This would be something in the middle of Meyer and DeConick, and
      mean they were both right and both wrong at the same time *lol*.

      I wish some more scholars would jump into the mix in a more public
      way (though I know this is generally thought of as a no-no). I did
      read one the other day, and I can't remember who now, that
      criticized both of them for making ANY assumptions in front of the
      public without wider critical review. I don't know if I like that
      either. I am thinking that at this point the cards have been tossed
      into the air and we are waiting for somebody to play 52 pick-up. We
      may actually get to it faster in here *lol*.

    • 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
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        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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