From Dec. 1 NYT, professor of Biblical studies at Rice University April D. DeConick reveals that the “Gospel of Judas” everyone was shouting about last year doesn’t say what the shouters thought it said.
For example, in one instance the National Geographic transcription refers to Judas as a “daimon,” which the society’s experts have translated as “spirit.” Actually, the universally accepted word for “spirit” is “pneuma ” — in Gnostic literature “daimon” is always taken to mean “demon.”
Likewise, Judas is not set apart “for” the holy generation, as the National Geographic translation says, he is separated “from” it….
To its credit, National Geographic has acknowledged this mistake, albeit far too late to change the public misconception.
Deconick, who has written her own book and translation of the so-called “Gospel of Judas,” speculates that one reason these kinds of mistakes were made is that the original translators were bound not to discuss their work with other scholars. She concludes that the eager reception of the good-guy Judas may have been motivated by
an understandable desire to reform the relationship between Jews and Christians. 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 coins. For Jews, he is the man whose story was used by Christians to persecute them for centuries. Although we should continue to work toward a reconciliation of this ancient schism, manufacturing a hero Judas is not the answer.