"How I regret this firestorm of hostility that is surrounding the Gospel of Judas! I refuse to add any fuel to the fire. This should be a time when we celebrate the appearance of a fascinating text and apply our collective wisdom to study it. As I told Tom Bartlett of The Chronicle, whatever else we might wish to say about the National Geographic Society, we should note that without the work of National Geographic and the Maecenas Foundation, Codex Tchacos and the Gospel of Judas might today be little more than a pile of papyrus dust in a box. My friend and colleague April DeConick invited Gregor Wurst and myself to give a public presentation at Rice University on the occasion of the recent Judas conference, and we did so. I attempted to indicate, in a clear and candid manner, the issues that arise when we scholars deal with the media and with other organizations. These issues are real issues, and they go far beyond the particular policies of the National Geographic Society. I said this in Houston, and I say it again: we need to move on in order to apply our scholarly energy to the Gospel of Judas and the rest of Codex Tchacos. And we need to discuss together how we may cooperate with organizations which have resources that may be applied to the examination and preservation of our cultural heritage, and how we may communicate our insights appropriately to our fellow scholars as well as to the interested public."I want to support Marv's statement with my own observations. I have watched Marvin Meyer and Gregor Wurst work hard the last few months in response to the criticism of scholars, including me, to revise their original publication of the Gospel of Judas. I have been impressed with their response to the criticism and their dedication to make corrections. I have come to understand what extraordinary pressure they were under when they "resurrected" this gospel.
This could have turned into a scholarly war zone, with none of us talking to each other, and everyone marking turf. But this is NOT what has happened, because it is not what any of us involved wanted to happen. This is one of the reasons we held the Codex Judas Congress as a working group or think tank. At the Codex Judas Congress, there wasn't anyone in the room that wasn't working together and listening to each other in order for us to make progress on the Gospel of Judas in terms of translation issues and interpretation issues. I asked Tom Bartlett to emphasize the fact that the Codex Judas Congress was a terrific example of how good scholarship is done, that it was a time of healing, and that the scholars involved were ready to move forward. Tom did mention this in his article, and I am grateful to him for doing so. But this seems to have gotten lost in the fray of on-line discussions, so I want to highlight this here.
I have been working on revising and updating The Thirteenth Apostle. I have written a second preface in which I discuss what has happened this year, and have included a new chapter which covers the material I presented at the Codex Judas Congress. I believe that the revised edition of my book will be published in the fall.
Marv and Gregor's revised popular edition of the Gospel of Judas should be released any day, and it is a much more "neutral" translation. Marv and Gregor asked each of us at the Codex Judas Congress to take a look at it and give input. Of course, they made the final decisions on what was changed and what was not, and there is not unanimous agreement. But their willingness to ask other scholars to be involved is exactly how the best scholarship is accomplished. It is too bad that the NGS policy did not allow for this the first time around, but that is water under the bridge now. Marv is right that we have to figure out as a collective group how to work with the media and organizations that fund projects in order to preserve these antiquities, while at the same time being able to work in the academic model or environment where things like non-disclosure statements and exclusive publication are more of a hindrance than a help. If any of you has suggestions for how this might be done in the future when another codex pops up on the market, please leave a comment.