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New York Review of Books, The Case for Judas

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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In the forthcoming New York Review of Books, Harold W. Attridge, Dean of Yale Divinity School, expounds The Case for Judas, Continued, revisiting the subject of a 2006 article in the same publication – The Betrayer’s Gospel – in light of two new works – Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King, Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity and Bart D. Ehrman, The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed.

I’ve grown both wary and weary of the supposedly ‘revelatory’ nature of new books examining gnostic tracts, which at times differ from the conspiratorial gaspings of the Da Vinci code only by degree and subtlety. In the Half-Priced Books down the street, the Bible is outnumbered 10 to 1 by the Dead Sea Scrolls which leads me to believe that the economics of the book business has quite a lot to do with the resurgence of interest in these ‘new’ revelations. But I seem to have stepped on a soap box here…

To the contrary, Attridge is refreshingly willing to contextualize the disappearance of the Gospel of Judas. The difference between a gospel that is “lost” or “discarded” lies in the value one attributes to it. The value of the Gospel of Judas is substantially greater to the historian of ancient Christianity than to the theologian. The conflict he seeks between its pages is substantially more relevant to the believer and casual observer alike than what he attributes to Pagels and King, whose focus on martyrdom as class struggle seems to value the improvement of the human condition more than the importance of claiming their beliefs to the early Christians, then castigate early church leaders for failing to see it that way as well.

To the extent that contemporary believers engage the form their faith has taken in relation to the scripture they’ve come to accept, the Gospel of Judas informs our imagining of the alternatives and should leave us a more thorough understanding of what we believe and why.

Or you could just follow these 17 steps to becoming happier than God.

Lord, help us.

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Category: literary pretensions, of saints & sinners


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