New York Times has an op-ed by April D. DeConick of Rice University revealing that National Geographic made some major mistakes in transcribing and translating that old Gnostic test, “The Gospel of Judas.”
While National Geographic’s translation supported the provocative interpretation of Judas as a hero, a more careful reading makes clear that Judas is not only no hero, he is a demon.
Several of the translation choices made by the society’s scholars fall well outside the commonly accepted practices in the field. For example, in one instance the National Geographic transcription refers to Judas as a “daimon,” which the society’s experts have translated as “spirit.” Actually, the universally accepted word for “spirit” is “pneuma ” — in Gnostic literature “daimon” is always taken to mean “demon.”
Likewise, Judas is not set apart “for” the holy generation, as the National Geographic translation says, he is separated “from” it. He does not receive the mysteries of the kingdom because “it is possible for him to go there.” He receives them because Jesus tells him that he can’t go there, and Jesus doesn’t want Judas to betray him out of ignorance. Jesus wants him informed, so that the demonic Judas can suffer all that he deserves.
Much more–all showing that National Geographic is in a sorry state. Heads should roll over this.
DeConick and other scholars are planning a much closer look at the Gospel of Judas at Rice University in March 2008. Then, the university will host an international panel of scholars, including those who translated the work for National Geographic, to discuss the Tchacos Codex, which contained the Judas text. The meeting, she said, will create an academic climate that has, heretofore, been unavailable.
“I wanted to create a situation of free and open academic exchange so that we can move past this deadlock,” DeConick said. “I hope that the facsimiles will be released by then so that we can all work from them.”
Codex Judas Congress, March 13-16, 2008.