Monday, November 05, 2007

Rice University professor debunks National Geographic translation of Gospel of Judas

Source: EurekAlert!

A new book by Rice University professor April DeConick debunks a stunning claim by National Geographic's translation of the Gospel of Judas. According to that translation, Judas was a hero, not a villain, who acted on Jesus' request to betray him. DeConick disagrees.

Before releasing her book "The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says," DeConick was intrigued by the original release of the Coptic Gospel of Judas and as a scholar wanted to read it for herself. While researching and translating it, she discovered that National Geographic's translators had made some serious errors.

"Once I started translating the Gospel of Judas and began to see the types of translation choices that the National Geographic team had made I was startled and concerned," DeConick said. "The text very clearly called Judas a 'demon.'"

DeConick contends that the Gospel of Judas is not about a "good" Judas or even a "poor old" Judas. It is a gospel parody about a "demon" Judas written by a particular group of Gnostic Christians who lived in the second century.

"The finding of this gospel has been called one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the past 60 years," DeConick said. "It's important that we get this right."

DeConick said many scholars and writers have been inspired by the National Geographic version.

"It appears to have something to do with our collective guilt about anti-Semitism and our need to reform the relationship between Jews and Christians following World War II," she said. "Judas is a frightening character. For Christians, he is the one who had it all, and yet betrayed God to his death for a few dollars. For Jews, he is terrifying, the man whom Christians associated the Jewish people, whose story was used against them for centuries."


DeConick is the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University in Houston. To read more about her teachings, visit,c,38,1

"The Thirteenth Apostle" (Continuum International Publishing Group) is available to purchase on

April DeConick is available nationwide for media interviews. To book an interview, contact David Ruth at 713-348-6327 or

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