More on Gospel of Judas + 9 fragments translated

Soon quite a lot of people will get on the “Judas” bandwagon, as has happened to Mary Magdalene earlier on. This is only a hunch, of course, but things have a tendency to mature over time.

Anyways, I stumbled upon this entry on the Coptic Gnostic Gospel of Judas at the textcritical theological site www.tertullian.org (sic!) whose other contents should interest serious students of the history of Christianity and the developement of Dogma, anyways. What appears to be unique in that site is that the editor has preserved the english translations presented on Antiquities dealer Michael Van Rijn’s website which appeared to be offline at the time.

It now seems like he’s back on, and offered the 5th of June an article on the find from The Independent, featuring an interview with himself.

Michael Van Rijn – to the general public, was the whistleblower concerning the “hostage situation” for the Gospel of Judas – an hitherto unknown organization presenting itself as the guardians of poor countries cultural heritage, announced to the Academical community that they had goods which they wished to share, for a fee. A fee which were several millions of US Dollars and which would only buy a restricted access to the manuscript(s) in question. Lots of details got lost when he apparently pulled much of the materials and detailed allegations concerning the find.

Van Rijn makes the following assertion in the Dutch newspaper

Katholik Nieuws Blad

on April the 15th (source the www.tertullian.org feature on the Gospel of Judas):

“The owner of the text, who only wants to make money from it, has carefully timed the publicity surrounding what is called the Gospel of Judas. That is the opinion of Prof. Hans van Oort, who specialises in Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Nag Hammadi and Augustine. He called a press conference on his own initiative, to counter “all the nonsense” being written at the moment about the Gospel of Judas; for example that the Vatican has an interest in the document’s not being published. Van Oort is attached to the Faculty of Theology of the University of Utrecht and is Professor of Christianity and Gnosticism at the Radboud University.”

Also:”Van Oort does not rule out that it involves the missing codex from the Nag Hammadi codices. What he does rule out is that Judas himself wrote it. “There is no reason whatsoever to assume that he did this. Nothing points to that.”

Which is of course, nothing but extraordinary. There has been quite a few hands on the Nag Hammadi find and every single one of these asserts that the missing codex had been used as fuel to boil tea.

Think about the repercussions of someone squirreling away a perfectably readable and authentic document from an UNESCO funded joint operation to secure the documents for the world, and for the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt!

Predictably, this “new” discovery has already caused some dust to whirl.. the Patriarchate of Moscow, for the Russian Orthodox Church found it earlier in this month necessary to let publish a press release on the official position of the Patriarch concerning the new archeological discovery. There he said that while the find might cast new light on historical matters (which I think he intends to mean new light concerning the heretical movement which produced the text in question, which is correct, we should expect), it has absolutely no value or relevance on the teachings and history of the Orthodox Church as well. That isn’t remarkable, such a quick reaction, however, is less common – it is usually the privilege of conservative scholars in the philological department and ask-me-a-question theologians by the dozen. Everyone thinks the Gospel of Judas is the product of the gnostic group which Ireneaus deigned to call the Cainites in his Adversus Haereses. It gives the manuscript in question a convenient category for the time being, which is good, I guess – and it also serves as a possible contrast to the already discovered and diagnosed Gnostic scriptures from Nag Hammadi.

What follows in the feature I cited earlier on, is an English translation of no less than nine fragments from the 62-page manuscript in Coptic.

The first is a version of the Gospel story of Jesus’ being tempted by Satan in the desert. Here Jesus is called Allogenes, the Stranger – and Satan is called Saklas, the “fool”. A brief comment on this: apart from Saturninus calling the leader of the archons (fallen angels), and chief demiurge, Satanael (later used by the Bogomils for the same) – there are no Gnostic scriptures which directly asserts that Satan and the Demiurge is identical. What is evident is that the author of the scripture does not side with Satan in the desert, which puts a question mark behind the allegation that the sect that produced the manuscript themselves were antinomians to the degree of turning the Old Testament hierarchy upside down. The 9 fragments does not mention one of the OT villains, so we have nothing to build a theory on its “Cainite” origin, apart from the positive role of Judas Iscarioth, who is described as being faithful to Jesus, in delivering him to the authorities.

I leave you with the link, I hope the web-editor keeps it up, since it appears to be the most comprehensive archive of the texts.

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