The Thirteenth Apostle
What the Gospel of Judas Really Says
April D. Deconick
BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC UK
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In 2006 National Geographic Society released the first English translation of the Gospel of Judas, a second century text discovered in Egypt in the 1970s. The translation caused a sensation because it seemed to overturn the popular image of Judas the betrayer and instead presented a benevolent Judas who was a friend of Jesus. In The Thirteenth Apostle April DeConick offers a new translation of the Gospel of Judas that seriously challenges National Geographic Society's interpretation.
Inspired by the National Geographic Society's efforts to piece together this ancient manuscript, DeConick sought out the original Coptic text and began her own translation.
"I didn't find the sublime Judas, at least not in coptic. What I found were a series of English translation choices made by the National Geographic team, choices that permitted a different Judas to emerge in the English translation than in the Coptic original. Judas was not only not sublime, he was far more demonic than any Judas I know in any other piece of early Christian literature, Gnostic or otherwise."
DeConick contends that the Gospel of Judas is not about a "good" Judas, or even a "poor old" Judas. It is a gospel parody about a "demon" Judas written by a particular group of Gnostic Christians known as the Sethians who lived in the second century CE. The purpose of the text was to criticize "mainstream" or apostolic Christianity from the point of view of the Gnostic Christians, especially their doctrine of atonement, their Eucharistic practices and their creedal faith that they claimed to have inherited from the twelve disciples.
Professor DeConick provides her English translation and interpretation of this newly recovered gospel within the previously overlooked context of a Christianity in the second century that was sectarian and conflicted.
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