In sharp contrast to the Gospels in the Bible, the Gospel of Judas criticizes Jesus’s twelve disciples for worshipping a false god and leading a multitude of people astray. Unsurprisingly then, its unique theology and critical interpretation of Jesus’s closest followers was condemned as heresy by Christian bishops in the second century, and its text was successfully suppressed. The Gospel of Judas became known to modern readers only in 2006 when the National Geographic Society published the first English translation. The editio princeps of the Coptic text followed in 2007. Following my doctoral dissertation (2010) and monograph on the Gospel of Judas (2011), I was invited by the editorial board of the Hermeneia Commentary series to write the volume on this ancient book. In this presentation, I will give an overview of the Gospel of Judas’s narrative and then discuss some of the challenges involved in writing a commentary on it, including transcribing the lacunous manuscript, translating abstruse passages in the Coptic text (itself an ancient translation of a lost Greek original), and interpreting its rich imagery and polemical message.
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