An Op-Ed blog by April DeConick, featuring discussions of the Nag Hammadi collection, Tchacos Codex,
and other Christian apocrypha, but mostly just the things on my mind.
featuring discussions of the Nag Hammadi collection,
and other Christian apocrypha,
but mostly just the things on my mind.
I just finished reading your book. It was very enjoyable and I thank you for a very coherent exposition that is accessible to a non-specialist like myself without talking down to us. Although I am in no position to evaluate the translation issues you address, your explanation of the author's stance towards Judas is certainly plausible. The only issue that caused me some difficulty is your explanation as to why Judas failed to achieve the gnosis he was seeking. The Gospel does suggest that Judas has acheived an understanding of the role of the true god and the inferiority of the demiurge. The problem you explain is that he has not overcome his "star". If that is Judas's problem you would have expected the Gospel to tell its readers how to overcome that problem. Yet there is no indication (even allowing for the defects in the text)that this problem is addressed.
David,This is a very good point. The Gospel says that Judas can't overcome his fate. His fate is what it is probably because he is one of the human beings whose "spirit is on loan". The Sethians believed that some people had God's spirit, while others had a counterfeit spirit, or in the case of this gospel a spirit that is loaned but not really theirs. The spirit is the only thing that is saved. Everything else is from the demiurge and is destroyed. Only the elect who have the spirit are saved. Everyone else is under the rulership of the demiurge and the stars - Judas and all the human generations. This can't be changed.
I think that many people who are used to mainstream Christianity have real difficulty coming to grips with a Christian worldview (or maybe a faithview) that doesn't offer salvation to all who want it and are prepared to do what it takes to get it. We are used to a worldview that says that we are saved by grace through faith, so anyone who repents can be saved. What is expressed in the Gospel of Judas is, I think, a similar theology (on this point only) to the Reformed doctrine of Predestination - that before the beginning of the world God predestined some people to be saved and others to be damned and if you're not predestined to be one of the elect, there is nothing you can do about it. Those who are sure they're part of the elect find this comforting but those who aren't sure don't find it comforting at all!Gnosticism is not my area of expertise so I'm not able to make blanket statements, but there are certainly strands of Gnosticism which take the stance that the Gnosis you need for salvation is not something that just anyone can get. If you take this position, it changes radically how you conceptualise evangelism. If the intended audience for the text was those who had Gnosis, information on how to avoid Judas' fate was irrelevant.
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