Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book: The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot by Bart Ehrman

Ehrman, Bart. 2006. The Lost Gospel of Judas Escariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed. Oxford University Press.

This book tells the tale of a lost gospel found in Egypt late in the last century and ultimately liberated into the public eye by National Geographic. Really, there are two stories here, perhaps three. One story is the history of the manuscript itself, the highlight of which is a 16 year stay in a safe-deposit box in a bank on Long Island. It turns out that this is a bad way to store ancient papyrus manuscripts. Who would have guessed? The other story, or stories, relates the contents of the gospel, and describes their relationship to the gnostic Christianity of the centuries immediately after Jesus' death. This gospel is unique in that it treats Judas as the hero among the disciples. An important part of the second story, then, is why someone might write such a gospel, what it might mean that they did, and how it fits in with various ancient theologies. I found the book fascinating throughout, though it has the feeling of being a tiny bit rushed (perhaps to meet the timetable of the National Geographic special) and it is aimed a little lower in terms of the reader's prior knowledge than the other Ehrman books I have read (though it is still not a book for general readers).

Recommend if you are into such things.

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