--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Nik" <nicholson2007wan@...> wrote:
> The New York Times is at work again and the "demonization" of Judas Iscariot is once more in play. The best example of this is the appearance at the beginning of the month of an op-ed piece, "Gospel Truth" by Prof. April DeConick of Rice University (The New York Times, 12/1/07).
April DeConick does address the article you linked in one her recent posts of "The Forbidden Gospels Blog" at her website.
Importantly, she is not alone in her criticisms. And she has repeatedly emphasized in her blog posts how she is coming from a scholarly view,... not a theological one, not a liberal vs. conservative one, not a political one, in spite of some of her critics trying to place her in various camps, in addition to emotional issues surrounding this whole Judas topic in general.
Here is one Dr. DeConick's latest articles at the Society of Biblical Literature:
("More on the Gospel Truth")
- 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.