Cautionary Note about the Gospel of Judas

One of my readers asked me a while back if I knew when the critical edition of the Gospel of Judas was going to be published. Marvin Meyer has told me that the critical edition is in press and he believes that it will be released in June 2007.

I am assuming that the edition will contain facsimile photographs of the leaves, at least that is what I understood from the conversations that took place at Madeleine Scopello's conference on the Gospel of Judas at the Sorbonne last October.

The manner in which this critical edition has come into publication is a bit odd in my opinion, since the Coptic transcription has not yet been openly discussed by scholars worldwide. It is much better if photographs and access to the manuscript itself are made available to scholars so that suggestions for reconstructions can be made before the critical edition is generated. At least this is how the Nag Hammadi materials were published thanks to the efforts and foresight of James Robinson.

This process has been reversed for the Tchacos Codex, so I imagine that the National Geographic critical edition will probably only be the "first" edition to be released, since once it is published, scholars can examine the photographs and transcription more closely to offer other solutions for problematic areas of the text. So I continue to caution scholars now working on the Gospel of Judas to be aware that the reconstructions offered by the National Geographic team may or may not need correction once scholars world wide have the opportunity to study the manuscript and/or photographs.
I myself have been particularly concerned about several areas in the text, not the least of which is the reconstruction of 52.5-6. From day one when I began working on this gospel, I have not been happy with the reconstruction "Seth" and "Christ." Why? Because these figures never appear as archons over the hells. But before we can suggest other options (which there are) with any certainty, we have to be able to see the lacunae and the traces of ink around them. So when June comes around, I will be very anxious to finally have a look for myself.

Anyway, this is only one of about nine problems with the text/translation that I have identified so far (and cover in my forthcoming book: The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says), and I don't yet have access to the photographs or the manuscript yet. So I'm writing this post as a cautionary note. There will be much discussion of the critical edition once it is released. This can be counted on.