Washington, December 22 : A new translation of the recently revealed Gospel of Judas suggests that Judas Iscariot was not only a traitor but as a "demon" also.
The new interpretation contrasts with the first translation issued by the National Geographic Society in April last year, in which ancient authors have depicted Judas as Jesus' closest friend and the only apostle who truly understood Christ's message.
While the Bible says that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the initial interpretation of the newfound gospel suggested that the apostle was following Jesus' orders when he gave the latter up to enemy soldiers.
April DeConick, a professor of biblical studies at Rice University in Texas, now says that the first interpretation of the text was incorrect. She writes her own translation of the gospel in her new book, 'The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says'.
"In my translation Judas did not come across as a benevolent spirit like he does in National Geographic's translation. He emerged as a much more negative Judas-a demon Judas as evil as ever," National Geographic quoted her as saying.
Marvin Meyer, a biblical scholar at Chapman University in California and one of the translators enlisted by National Geographic, welcomed the 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. What is remarkable is the extent to which what was presented early on still has carried the day with us and most people," he said.
The Gospel of Judas was found in an ancient book that dates back to the third or fourth century A.D. Written in Egyptian Christian script, it is believed to be a translation of the original, Greek text written sometime before A.D. 180. The author of the text is unknown, but scholars say that it originated with a group of early Christians known as Sethian Gnostics.
DeConick said that the translation of the Gospel of Judas excited her, and she began analysing the text immediately after its publication last year.
"But I soon noticed that my translation wasn't matching (National Geographic's) in significant spots," she said.
A passage in which Jesus calls Judas "daimon" is, however, keeping the debate on. While the National Geographic translation construes "daimon" to mean "spirit", DeConick insists that the term means "demon".
"What we find in all the Gnostic materials-and I've found about 50 references to the word 'daimon' in these texts-(is that) they're always indicating demons, malicious figures that possess and torment people, trying to get people to do things they're not supposed to do against God," she said.
She further said that in another passage in the National Geographic version, Judas told Jesus, "You have set me apart for that generation"-apparently meaning the enlightened Gnostics who, in DeConick's words, "populate the upper world."
However, according to her, a Coptic phrase used in the passage, "porj e", actually means "to separate from" and not "to set apart for."
"Judas has not been set apart to belong to the holy generation, as the National Geographic translation suggests. My corrected translation reads completely the opposite," she writes in her book.
"Judas is upset because he has received esoteric teaching from Jesus-teaching which he sees as useless, because he has been separated from the Gnostic generation who populate the upper world," she writes.
Meyer, however, said that the issues of translation that DeConick highlighted were almost all discussed in the footnotes of National Geographic's popular edition, and critical edition of the Gospel of Judas. (ANI)
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