for National Geographic News
Judas was a traitor—even a "demon"—according to a new translation of the recently revealed Gospel of Judas.
The new interpretation contradicts the first translation, released by the National Geographic Society in April 2006. But the debate is far from settled.
That initial interpretation of the newfound gospel says that the apostle was following Jesus' orders when he gave Jesus up to enemy soldiers.
In the National Geographic translation, the text's ancient authors depict Judas Iscariot as Jesus' closest friend and the only apostle who truly understood Christ's message. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
The Bible famously tells of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Evil as Ever?
April DeConick, a professor of biblical studies at Rice University in Texas, says the first translators got it wrong.
In her new book, The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says, DeConick offers her own translation of the gospel.
"In my translation Judas did not come across as a benevolent spirit like he does in National Geographic's translation," DeConick said.
"He emerged as a much more negative Judas—a demon Judas as evil as ever."
Marvin Meyer is one of the translators who National Geographic enlisted. He said he welcomes additional interpretations of the Gospel of Judas.
"It doesn't come as any surprise whatsoever to find out that there would be another kind of interpretation," said Meyer, a biblical scholar at Chapman University in California.
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