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The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed [Hardcover]

Bart D. Ehrman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2006
The recent National Geographic special on the Gospel of Judas was a major media event, introducing to tens of millions of viewers one of the most important biblical discoveries of modern times. Now, a leading historian of the early church, Bart Ehrman, offers the first comprehensive account of the newly discovered Gospel of Judas, revealing what this legendary lost gospel contains and why it is so important for our understanding of Christianity.
Ehrman, a featured commentator in the National Geographic special, describes how he first saw the Gospel of Judas--surprisingly, in a small room above a pizza parlor in a Swiss town near Lake Geneva--and he recounts the fascinating story of where and how this ancient papyrus document was discovered, how it moved around among antiquities dealers in Egypt, the United States, and Switzerland, and how it came to be restored and translated. More important, Ehrman gives the reader a complete and clear account of what the book teaches and he shows how it relates to other Gospel texts--both those inside the New Testament and those outside of it, most notably, the Gnostic texts of early Christianity. Finally, he describes what we now can say about the historical Judas himself as well as his relationship with Jesus, suggesting that one needs to read between the lines of the early Gospels to see exactly what Judas did and why he did it.
The Gospel of Judas presents an entirely new view of Jesus, his disciples, and the man who allegedly betrayed him. It raises many questions and Bart Ehrman provides illuminating and authoritative answers, in a book that will interest anyone curious about the New Testament, the life of Jesus, and the history of Christianity after his death.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In typically brilliant fashion, Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus) tells the lively tale of the modern discovery of the Gospel of Judas and its significance for us today. In order to differentiate the Judas of the newly discovered text from the character in the canonical gospels, he examines the portrayal of Judas in Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, as well as in other early Christian gospels such as the Gospel of Nicodemus. He chronicles the events surrounding the discovery of the text and its transmission since its discovery (which involves rumors of black market trading in looted documents). Ehrman also provides a helpful overview of the content of this once lost gospel, which depicts Jesus teaching Judas about a divine realm that no one has ever seen and to which Jesus must return. Ehrman concludes that the discovery of the Gospel of Judas is significant not only because it adds to our knowledge of the diversity of early Christianity but also because it portrays a Judas who is not a traitor to the cause but one who is instrumental in fulfilling Jesus' divine mission. Ehrman's fast-paced study introduces us engagingly to the Gospel of Judas. (Oct. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* There's been a flurry of attention about a biblical discovery recently brought to light--a Gospel that paints the apostle Judas in a very different light than the four Gospels of the New Testament. The National Geographic Society, which was instrumental in bringing the lost Gospel of Judas to light, has already put out two books and one TV show on the subject. Ehrman, who was one of the few people called upon to authenticate the manuscript, goes beyond those two volumes, examining the lost Gospel for new insights about early Christianity and putting the codex into a historical context. Always an engaging writer, Ehrman has his work cut out for him here. The Gospel of Judas, which falls into the Gnostic tradition, can be puzzling, even bizarre. But, in step-by-step fashion, Ehrman leads his readers through the maze, covering the background of Gnosticism in general, exploring how this Gospel fits into that tradition, and examining precisely what the book says: that Judas was the recipient of secret revelations because he alone of all the disciples understood Jesus' message of salvation, and that he is to be honored for executing his part of the divine plan. A must for those interested in the subject of early Christianity, this volume will also attract readers intrigued by all the hoopla arising from the discovery of the lost Gospel. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195314603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195314601
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
146 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ehrman does it again October 13, 2006
Bart Ehrman's The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot is a one-stop survey of every facet of the headline-making find: It's discovery, authentication, content, and significance. I wondered a little whether Ehrman would be able to keep it interesting: once you get past the initial glitter, there's a fact which Ehrman has commented on in his other works, that ancient gnosticism was pretty weird and hard for the average person to maintain a deep interest in. However, Ehrman handles it all as skillfully as I've come to expect from his previous works, such as Misquoting Jesus and Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium.

One thing I didn't expect was seeing Ehrman's skill at narrative. The opening chapter gives a first-person account of Ehrman's intial encounter with the Gospel of Judas when he was called in to help authenticate it. It reads like The Da Vinci Code. Particularly memorable was a passage where one of the experts was asked who could have forged a document like the one thay had. Response: four, "And two of them are in this room." If I were Ehrman's editor, after reading this, I would be pressuring him to try his hand at writing a historical novel on the early years of Christianity.

After explaining how it eventually was authenticated, Ehrman goes into a discussion of how Judas is portrayed in various documents through the middle ages, showing that a Gospel of Judas would be necessarily unique by putting Judas in a positive light. Then come an explanation of how known literature had hinted at the book's existence, and after that is a summary of how the book came, from the sands of Egypt, through the hands of scheming antiques dealers who caused heavy damage to the manuscript, up to its final destination in a place where it could be sudied by scholars.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first Christian? August 8, 2007
As Ehrman notes, it's hardly necessary to introduce Judas Iscariot to readers. The many allusions to betrayal or deception: the kiss, the "thirty pieces of silver", the "one among you" reference are scattered throughout our literature, politics and daily circumstances. Even the fratricide of Cain receives less attention. However, a long-lost text providing an alternate view of this man, known to scholars but never seen in its original form, is likely to change all that. Ehrman, who was among the first to study the remants of it after it was found in Eygpt over thirty years ago, here provides an analysis of its contents. In a well-written account, he traces the document's history as known, and what it might mean for Christianity.

Judas, Ehrman notes, is portrayed in various ways in the "Synoptic Gospels", the accounts of Jesus that are the standard fare of Christian teachings. They range from a man driven by greed to an instrument of Satan. "The Gospel of Judas", originally written at about the same time as those stock accounts, depicts somebody else altogether. Not written by Judas, the writer tells the story of a man specially favoured by the teacher. According to the text, Judas was the one among "the Twelve" who actually "got" the message. Instead of "betraying" the teacher, Judas is actually given the task of freeing him from the "man who clothes me". Jesus, then, is but a spirit occupying a human body. Judas thus becomes the first Christian.

The foundation of this shift of role lies in a religious philosophy known as "Gnosticism". Although much debate has raged around the term as well as its tenets, its underlying thesis is that the material world is inherently evil, created by corrupt gods.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant December 19, 2006
Bart D. Ehrman has, as so often happens, outdone himself. He has in his previous works consistently challenged long (often devoutly) held assumptions with indisputable facts, and this book is no different. Here he points to the differences between the various canonical gospel accounts in search of the facts beneath the theological agendas of their authors. In this short but brilliant work he more than fulfills the promise of his brief essay in "The Gospel of Judas," published earlier this year by the National Geographic Society in support of their televised special. Within this slender volume he discusses the popular image of Judas Iscariot, discussing popular misconceptions while directing the reader to the very slender evidence available to us. Like Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot barely appears in the canonical gospels but the stories about him have grown all out of proportion over the centuries. Professor Ehrman, who is well aware of the distorting influence of books like "The DaVinci Code" examines each of these New Testament accounts, pointing to their differences as well as to the ways in which the accounts built upon each other from Mark to Matthew and Luke, and to Acts and John, before arriving at the story told in the Gospel of Judas itself. Included is a discussion of Gnosticism and the place of Judas' gospel within the framework of Gnostic religion and early Christian thought. Just as interesting is the account of the gospel's recovery, preservation and translation. This book belongs on the bookshelf of everyone interested in the origins and history of Christianity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A must read.
Published 3 days ago by ORIGINALADREAM
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A book that all Christians should read.
Published 5 days ago by Odette Florence
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Excellent book.
Published 7 days ago by Momof3
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this read!
Answers many questions you may have while holding your attention because of the superior writing. You will not want to lay it down. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marilyn Elliott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Provides a view ofthe apostle that has never been discussed or debated.
Published 2 months ago by Robert Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
was smooth and easy
Published 3 months ago by cathy
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and contraversal
Excellent book, very thought-provoking. I also really like this author's style.
Published 3 months ago by D. Davison
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to the Gospel of Judas
Ehrman's book on the gnostic Gospel of Judas is a good work that seems to cover all of the basics of what one might want to know about this book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Andrew Frysword
5.0 out of 5 stars Gospel of Judas
First of all, it is fascinating reading - whether one chooses to believe it or not. The writer provides important information about the gospel itself, the history of early... Read more
Published 5 months ago by K. Herold
4.0 out of 5 stars Will come to this author for all of my religious study texts.
When I picked up this book I was expecting a lot of "this is exactly what the Gospel says" and I didn't get that, which I was pleased about. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mirrani
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