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Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 6, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
In their recent book, "Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Early Christianity" (2007), Elaine Pagels and Karen King offer early thoughts on the Gospel of Judas and its significance. Pagels is Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of several books on Gnostic Christianity, including "The Gnostic Gospels". King is Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the Harvard Divinity School, and she has also written several books on Gnosticism.
This short but difficult book is in two parts. The first part, "Reading Judas" consists of four chapters jointly written by Pagels and King examining the Gospel of Judas in the context of the traditional New Testament canon, the history of early Christianity, and other Gnostic texts. The second part of the study consists of an English translation of the Gospel of Judas by King together with her detailed commentary on the translation. Interpretation of this newly published text is difficult. It is obscurely written with names and characters that are unfamiliar. Extensive and important passages of the text have been lost over the years. It should also be remembered that the text of the Gospel of Judas is itself a Coptic translation of an original Greek version that we do not possess.Read more ›
After last year's circus surrounding the release of the Gospel of Judas (GoJ), Pagels and King turn their attention not to the historical information about the major players, Jesus and Judas, about whom the Gospel tells us very little new, but rather to the purposes of the author of the Gospel. They identify the GoJ as another example of the "Jesus is in charge" theme which increases in emphasis as one moves from Mark to Matthew to Luke and then John. Indeed, they believe that Judas is the most extreme example of Jesus orchestrating his own death. Yet while the catholic Christians did this to keep their Godman all-knowing, Pagels and King submit that the author of Judas is devaluing the physical body and emphasizing the spiritual one, and hence Jesus dies so that he can live. It's a subtle difference but a very meaningful one, and Pagels and King make their point slowly, methodically, and firmly. This fundamental difference in outlook also lies behind what they describe as the "anger" in the GoJ, anger that the catholic Christians are acting against the interests of the true Christ by adopting the suits and trappings of the physical world.
The book is extremely short. It is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 (Pagels and King) barely covers 100 pages, and presents their thesis. Part 2 (King) is a new translation of GoJ with lots of comments on the translation. The comments are particularly useful.
The book is not without flaws. Here's a few:
"...Read more ›
This book presents us with a content analysis and the actual translated text of the Gospel of Judas, which was accidentally discovered by peasants in a burial cave in the 1970's in Middle Egypt near al Minya. The archaeological find was finally made public by the National Geographic Society in April 2006. Award-winning authors, Pagels and King, who study, translate and specialize in early Christian writings, estimate that the Gospel "was written sometime around 150 C.E., about a century after Judas would have lived, it is impossible that he wrote it; the real author remains anonymous."
In addition to its outside-the-box spiritual teaching, this Gospel is valued because it clearly shows that the early Christian movement was not characterized by the unified, simplistic and fixed message that we hear today. Rather, it's yet another piece of evidence that demonstrates there were many different and controversial messages, each competing for a position of supremacy, each claiming to be the divine truth, each messenger asserting to be the most special and favored one. While many people are comforted by the idea that the 12 apostles worked together and that they unanimously embraced and delivered the same doctrines, this homogenized and white-washed picture is a distortion of the historical facts, rivalries and power struggles that are now being revealed.
MESSAGE OF LOVE: Score 10
If God is Love and only Love, He cannot be violence. The Gospel of Judas renounces violence, sacrifice, martyrdom and even the cannibalistic practice of symbolically eating the body and blood of Christ as God's Will.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is really a two star, but I give three if only because the topic is so darn important. Quoting from the Introduction, "Reading the Gospel of Judas as just another example of... Read morePublished 23 hours ago by judaswasjames
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone willing to consider supposedly "heretical" finds from Nag Hammadi.Published 3 months ago by William F. Pillow, Jr.
Not many books are short, scholarly, and a riveting read, but this is one. Even if one is not a believer, this book brings one back intensely into the world of early Christianity... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Howard M. Romaine
I am fascinated by the unearthing of these "termas" and the brilliant translations and contexts for understanding that Elaine Pagels and Karen King (the "tertons")... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Irish4TW
A new and helpful viewpoint for anyone who is not just "believing" but also "Seeking."Published 12 months ago by Leroy Madden
I read everything Elaine Pagels writes about early christianity and this lives up to her other works. It is interesting and thought provoking.Published 17 months ago by Michael Lehrman