Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gospel of Judas and Stagnation at the National Geographic Website

In this week's Non-canonical Gospels class here at Duke, we discussed the Gospel of Judas and it gave me the opportunity to spend a bit more time thinking about the text and about the controversy it stirred up.  One thing is, I think, a bit disappointing.  Back in 2006, I praised the National Geographic website on the Gospel of Judas (Gospel of Judas megapost).  As well as being well designed and nice to look at, I was delighted that they had made available Kasser and Wurst's Coptic transcription as well as the committee's preliminary English translation, so that individuals could consult text and translation for themselves.

However, now over three years have passed and still the site has not been updated to reflect the corrected Coptic text and translation subsequently released in the critical edition of 2007 (Rodolphe Kasser, Gregor Wurst, Marvin Meyer, and Fran├žois Gaudard, The Gospel of Judas, Together with the Letter of Peter to Philip, James, and a Book of Allogenes from Codex Tchacos: Critical Edition (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2007)).  Those who go now to the text on the website are therefore still seeing a preliminary version of a piece that was later updated (and there is a still a typo).

As Stephan Witetschek pointed out in his review of April DeConick's The Thirteenth Apostle, several of the criticisms she makes of the National Geographic preliminary translation were actually adjusted in the Critical Edition.  But DeConick's criticism carries force for as long as the website, which is where many will still go to  consult the text, features the non-updated version.


Roger Pearse said...

Well this is one way of looking at it.

But on the other hand National Geographic actually made the text and translation available to the whole world without charge. When did anyone do that? Most texts are published in tiny editions, protected by the most vicious copyright laws known to history, and buried in a handful of libraries until all of us are dead.

Yes, it may be not perfect. But it's much, much better than nothing. Let's not discourage them. I was afraid while I read your post that you were going to say it had been taken down!

Mark Goodacre said...

I appreciate those positive comments, Roger. I suppose I should have been a bit more positive. I did sing their praises when they first did this and I suppose I was a bit disappointed to discover that they hadn't made those adjustments.