Judas: “Still A Contenda!”
And now a word from the sponsor:
To the Editor of The New York Times:Re “Gospel Truth” (Op-Ed, Dec. 1), about the Gospel of Judas:April D. DeConick speaks too confidently when she talks about our mistakes in translation. She knows better. The issues of translation she highlights are almost all discussed in the notes in the popular edition and critical edition of the Gospel of Judas, and the observation that Judas is the “thirteenth daimon” in the text is open to discussion and debate.Professor DeConick’s additional insinuations of ulterior motives by her fellow scholars in the establishment of the Coptic text and the development of an appropriate translation are extremely disappointing and disturbing. She knows how we struggled carefully and honestly with this difficult text preserved in fragments.Professor DeConick comes up with her interpretation of the Gospel of Judas by virtually ignoring all the positive things said about Judas in the text. In the end, Professor DeConick’s Judas recalls Brando in “On the Waterfront.” He coulda been a contenda, he coulda been somebody — if he just were not so demonic.When the positive things said about Judas in the Gospel of Judas are given fair consideration, it may be said: Judas is still a contenda.
Marvin Meyer, Orange, Calif., Dec. 4, 2007
The writer, one of the original editors and translators of the Gospel of Judas, is a professor of religious studies at Chapman University.
To the Editor:
When we became involved in the Gospel of Judas project, we assembled a team of scholars to examine, conserve, authenticate and translate the Coptic manuscript. The chief translator, Rodolphe Kasser, is one of the world’s leading Coptologists.Assisting him were three other eminent Coptic scholars. We also assembled an advisory panel of nine leading scholars and religious authorities who reviewed the manuscript, advising on its importance and impact. Once we were certain of the document’s authenticity and had a consensus translation, we published it expeditiously and put the content on our Web site.Virtually all issues April D. DeConick raises about translation choices are addressed in footnotes in both the popular and critical editions. People can disagree about certain words, but the entire document needs to be considered for an accurate reading of the text.When we published, we encouraged respectful, global discourse. We invite Professor DeConick and other scholars to join us at the National Geographic Society to continue the public discussion. Terry Garcia
Executive Vice President, Mission Programs, National Geographic Society, Washington, Dec. 4, 2007