Stephan Witetschek's review of The Thirteenth Apostle

HERE is a link to the RBL review by Stephen Witetschek of my book, The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says.

I want to say a few words in response because he raises a couple of questions. First he raises the question of this book's audience. This book was written for a broad general audience. Its title was created for that audience by my publisher. I wanted to call it something entirely different, but was vetoed, and with good reason. A book's title has to capture the thesis while also being of interest to the audience you hope will read want to read it.

Second, my academic work, upon which this book is based, contains many more details (as it should), details that will only be of interest to other scholars. These academic articles are just now beginning to see the light of day in terms of publishing. Why the lag time? Because academic presses take FOREVER to move articles through the process of publication. What is now being published on the Gospel of Judas in academic venues is already outdated, having been written in mid-2006! This is one of the reasons why I published The Thirteenth Apostle. I felt that I needed to get the information out in a timely manner to the public because I felt we were wrongly informed about what this gospel really says.

Third, the translation that I was criticizing was the original English translation, not the French.

Fourth, the book was in press long before The Critical Edition by the National Geographic team was released, an edition that cleaned up some of the problems in the original release. The NGS has since also released a new popular edition - the second edition of The Gospel of Judas - in which the clean-up work continues. The areas that were modified overlap with the areas of my criticisms, as well as the criticisms of other scholars. There wouldn't be any reason for concern IF these problems were not crucial spots in the texts for interpretation. But they are. So we need to address them, which is what I did and continue to do.

Fifth, I was surprised to read in the review Witetschek's statement that "a question remains that DeConick's book does not answer: If Judas is such a demonic villain in this text, why is he at the same time the hero of the text?" I wonder why my academic reviewer missed the main point of the book which my public reviewers articulate clearly? The point of my book: Judas isn't a hero in this text. He is a villian who learns about his fate from Jesus in a gnostic parody of the apostolic church. Here are some of the public reviewers' remarks taken right off the Amazon website:
Neil Godfrey
"For most of us who have read the National Geographic translation of the Gospel of Judas, be prepared for a radical re-think of what we have read there. The National Geographic translation depicts Judas as the only true saint; DeConick's, as the arch demon himself -- or at least destined to join with him in the end. Which immediately raises the question: Why would a gospel make the central character a demon? DeConick shows how the apparent structure and thematic development of the gospel aligns it with an agenda opposing that Christianity that traced its genealogy back to the Twelve Apostles...the Gospel of Judas was a parody and attack on apostolic Christianity and its doctrine of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus."

"Judas, the good guy? No, indeed! He is even worse than previously thought. A closer translation and a thorough knowledge of gnostic mythology, derived partially from Plato, shows him to be a secret agent of the devil. The Gospel of Judas is a parody, written by someone from the Sethian subgroup of Gnostic Christians - to make mainstream Christians of the second century look asinine for relying on a demon ruler (Judas) and his minions (the twelve) for their teachings and practices. A more specific goal of the Gospel of Judas, according to DeConick, is to blast the doctrine of atonement and the effectiveness of the eucharist, on account of Judas's involvement."

Steve Esser
"According to DeConick, while Judas does have greater understanding than the other apostles (who are completely misguided), he is nonetheless a doomed and (literally) demonic figure. So while the text is still very much in opposition to apostolic Christianity (indeed she views it as a parody of sorts), the figure of Judas is still to be seen as a bad guy, not the good guy put forth by the National Geographic team."