I am shocked, shocked, that the much-hyped "Gospel of Judas," a dull third century Gnostic text that purports to tell the Passion story from the Iscariot's point of view, would turn out, upon more careful examination, to be something other than the cross between "Gregory Maguire Does the New Testament" and The Da Vinci Code that everyone made it out to be. I mean, really - how could Elaine Pagels possibly lead us astray?
Needless to say, while the new translation alters Judas's role in the story - he's a an agent of the wicked demiurge the Gnostics blamed for sin and suffering and the whole of creation, not a tragic hero - it doesn't sound as though it much alters the substance of the text, which like most of the "lost gospels" is at once historically bogus and theologically unappetizing (with a Jesus who tends to sound, in Adam Gopnik's priceless phrase, like "the ruler of a dubious planet on Star Trek"). But of course the lost gospels' quality and historical credibility - or lack thereof, in both cases - have never had much to do with their appeal.
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