--- In email@example.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@...> wrote:
> Hey Nick
> >>>I just can not see how can DeConick have can make such an
> interpretation like that; in complete opposition to the National
> Geographic she is saying that Judas is doing the worse evil
> imaginable by offering the body of Jesus for sacrifice but she
> should know full well the distaste the Gnostics have for the
> The question of interpretation HAS to come after the questions of
> translation. We do have to admit that even the National Geographic
> team has stated that on closer inspection they got some parts wrong.
> They have changed some things in the critical edition to compensate
> for those errors. Some of these errors really do open the door to
> DeConick's interpretation, and COULD show Judas in a way that is
> nearly opposite of what Meyer's interpretation suggests. In fact, I
> would like to point out that even as I was reading the original
> translation along with Meyer's notes I was thinking that some of his
> interpretations didn't even really follow from the translation he
> helped to produce.
> On the other hand, I am getting the feeling that Dr DeConick is
> doing exactly the same thing that I feel Meyer did, but from the
> opposite end. One or the other of them could be right in the end,
> but at this point I am finding problems with both of their
> interpretations. The rest of us readers may still not have an
> authoritative translation to help us judge the interpretations.
> For the record, I have had issues with both of these scholars in
> other subjects as well.
> On a final note we may find that Judas disagrees with Apoc of John
> or Thomas or some other "Gnostic" texts in the end, or that it
> agrees with some specific set of texts. There are some issues that
> we can compare with other texts that MAY be in the same genre, but
> there are some issues that we simply can't assume at this point.
> What the "Gnostics" are said to believe can't be used to judge the
> translation (which is part of my problem with DeConicks argument as
Hello, Nick, PMCV, and all.
Yes, I agree that "the question of interpretation HAS to come after the questions of translation."
That said, it would be a disservice to April DeConick to not acknowledge that this seems to also be her mantra. It also appears that some Coptic words and phrases could have various translation possibilities, and it would seem reasonable in some instances to investigate surrounding literature as well as always consider the immediate context of these words or phrases within the text in addition to other factors in the Gospel of Judas that serve to influence the whole.
I should probably clarify that I have no vested interest or emotional predilection in latching on to any particular view in this debate. I think we should let the scholars speak for themselves and go from there.
So, in this particular case that Nick has brought up, Dr. DeConick again has taken the time to present her analysis of translation of the Coptic phrase on pages 57-59 of The Thirteenth Apostle. Her analysis comes up with a negative context.
The literal translation of the Coptic according to DeConick is "You will do more than all of them. For the man who clothes me, you will sacrifice him." She takes issue with the word "exceed" chosen by the National Geographic team in that it has a positive connotation. Personally, I think it could likewise have a negative meaning, but then I also wonder why this particular word would be chosen that indeed often does have a positive connotation. Why don't we just see "do more than" in these English translations? Based on the immediate negative context, Dr. DeConick explains her translation choice ("do worse than all of them") to present the literal "do more than all of them" to mean do more evil. I don't know why National Geographic chose "exceed."
As far as interpretation regarding sacrifice of the body, Dr. DeConick says that Jesus is not asking Judas to release his soul from the body. I interpret her implying that the sacrifice is not "worse" just because of the sacrifice of the body in and of itself; rather we must also consider to whom the sacrifice of Jesus is made. She states that it is worse because it is another sacrifice specifically to the Archons. Again, I believe this would illustrate the work's polemic against belief of atonement through bodily sacrifice. If anything, it would support the Gnostic idea of the futility of placing too much importance on the flesh.
As far as translation, when I see that the later Critical Edition (differing from Dr. DeConick's translation choice) still says "You will exceed all of them," I am again finding this problematic (as I did the conflicting example in my message #13241), not knowing how the translators of the Critical Edition came up with their translation.
Are we dealing with biases on the part of any of the translators? Rather, are there in fact various translations legitimately possible, even as Mark suggests, possibly offering an intended ambiguity? Or was the original document in such disrepair that even after putting together the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle, the actual reading of the document is still so cumbersome, and would that possibility really apply in every instance of these conflicting translations, anyway?
Just some thoughts for consideration.
- Hey Sean and Gerry
>>>It might be just crazy logic on my part, but I am finding thatboth 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 muchin 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 naturallyunlike 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.