I have now read all of The Thirteenth Gospel by April DeConick. She questions six points of translation in the National Geographic rendering of Judas. The most important is that Judas is described as a thirteenth demon (read a negative Judas portrait), not a thirteenth spirit (read a positive Judas portrait).
I have now read all of The Thirteenth Gospel by April DeConick. She questions six points of translation in the National Geographic rendering of Judas. The most important is that Judas is described as a thirteenth demon (read a negative Judas portrait), not a thirteenth spirit (read a positive Judas portrait). So she argues this gospel sees Judas negatively and argues it critiques the apostolic Christianity and the doctrine of atonement as reflective of ignorance on that wing of Christianity. The critique comes from Sethian Gnosticism. This is reflective of tensions in the second century.
This alternative rendering depends on the actual Coptic text. Until photos of the manuscripts are published (so we can see the actual text) this kind of debate cannot be completely sorted out. In some cases the debates about the renderings are dependent on how the context is read and/or readings depending on the exact lettering of the Coptic which have to be checked against the actual manuscripts. DeConick argues the National Geographic rendering is not an internally logical reading of the gospel. She also questions the description of Irenaeus of Gnostics who elevate past villains into heroes, a sect Irenaeus calls Cainite Gnostics as he describes a Gospel of Judas that reads Judas positively. She questions the Fathers as being hostile to such texts in general and not able to be trusted. Only having the texts will help us resolve the alternatives.
One other take DeConick has is extremely questionable. She argues that Mark’s criticism of the Twelve is like the Sethian reading and is part of a split between Mark’s alignment with Paul and their criticism (rejection) of Jewish Christianity, such as that of James, Peter and Matthew. This is yet another reappearance of the F. C. Baur thesis of Christian origins and a clear spilt in the earliest Christianity. This ignores how such an originally (supposedly) hostile document would have been folded into the canon and connected traditionally to Peter, if it really connected to Paul. It is this kind of historical rearranging of categories that makes certain aspects of new school claims so suspect. DeConick may be right about Judas, but on this point about Mark, she is most certainly off the mark.