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The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot [Paperback]

Herbert Krosney , Bart D. Ehrman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 20 2007
On best-seller lists nationwide: New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Washington Post.

This compelling and exhaustively researched account reveals the truth behind one of the greatest Judeo Christian archaeology of the century—a 1,600-year-old papyrus manuscript, or codex, containing the only known surviving Gospel of Judas. With all the skills of an investigative journalist and master storyteller, Herbert Krosney traces the forgotten gospel's improbable journey from the sands of the Egyptian desert across three continents—a trek that would take it through the netherworld of the international antiquities trade—until the crumbling papyrus is finally made to give up its secrets.

Sold twice, lost once and hidden in a safe-deposit box in Long Island for sixteen years, the story of The Gospel of Judas's amazing trek from the cavern near the banks of the Nile River reads like a "plot from a Hollywood mystery." Was one of history's greatest villains really one of its greatest heroes? Was Judas Iscariot really Jesus Christ's betrayer? With the discovery of the 1,600-year-old Gospel, you can now decide for yourself.

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Review

“The story of the gospel’s rediscovery and salvation [The Lost Gospel by Herbert Krosney] reads like a Hollywood mystery.” –The Boston Globe

Jesus said to Judas: “You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.” –The Gospel of Judas

“Riveting....With the tenacity of a top-flight investigative reporter, Krosney pursued every facet of the discovery and reclamation of the text. With an uncanny knack for piecing together isolated data, he has provided us with scores of details that, were it not for his efforts, would have been lost forever.” –Bart D. Ehrman

“A dramatic story of the discovery of one of the most provocative gospels from the early Church.” –Marvin Meyer, editor of The Gospel of Judas


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Herbert Krosney is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker. He has worked for BBC, PBS, and the History Channel, as well as National Geographic. He is the author of Beyond Welfare: Poverty in the Supercity; Deadly Business: Legal Deals and Outlaw Weapons; and co-author of The Islamic Bomb: the Nuclear Threat to Israel and the Middle East. He divides his time between New York and Jerusalem.

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is an expert on the history of early Christianity. He is the autor of 19 books including the bestselling Misquoting Jesus: the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once was lost, now is found... April 7 2006
By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This new book by the National Geographic Society is bound to be of interest. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the outline of the lost gospel being translated and highlighted here, it still presents an intriguing look into the early mind of Christians, who were a very diverse group.
There were originally more than four gospels, and literally hundreds of apostolic letters and manuscripts floating around the ancient world. These were of variable quality literarily and theologically, but it took hundreds of years for the Christian community to come to a consensus about what should be included and what should be excluded. Generally, Gnostic texts were excluded, and this lost gospel of Judas is most likely a Gnostic production, according to the authors. It was referenced by early church leaders such as Irenaeus, who argued strongly for the now-standard vision of four canonical gospels.
What is the issue with this gospel? The central idea that places this text as odds with the canonical gospels is that it paints Judas is a very different light - Judas is no longer the villain who betrays Jesus for his own personal gain, or because of his own spiritual confusion, but rather an obedient servant who, when turning Jesus in to the authorities, is simply following Jesus' own direction as a necessary step for God's plan to come to fulfillment. Judas is portrayed as the closest of the apostles to Jesus, a leader among the apostles, and thus perhaps the object of jealousy.
To be sure, these ideas are not new. Varying images of Judas and confusion about his role have been present throughout much of Christian history, with no single definitive vision of his personality nor his action superseding all others. (See the book on Judas by scholar Kim Paffenroth, published recently).
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story of a Race Against Time April 10 2006
By Nor'easter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you are looking for a book that gives the complete translation of the Gospel of Judas you would do better to read other books available on this topic. However, if you would like to read an incredible story of how this incredibly precious document passed around the world for over 20 years going from buyer to buyer while coming precariously close to degrading beyond any hope of usefullness, this is quite a story. This book is written from the National Geographic's viewpoint of their involvement with the procurement, last attempts at preservation of this astonishing document and ultimate translation of the Gospel of Judas. This book does contain discussions of the big picture of the importance of the Gospel of Judas and what its message is but there are those who will be better suited for an in depth translation of the Gospel without any of the legwork behind it's discovery, travels and the race to beat the clock before the gospel physically disintegrated. For those of us who want to understand what is contained in the Gospel of Judas without getting too deep from a religious standpoint and want to read a story of intrigue about this document and how it was almost never brought to translation and dissemination, this is a terrific read.
69 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once was lost, now is found... April 6 2006
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This new book by the National Geographic Society is bound to be of interest. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the outline of the lost gospel being highlighted here, it still presents an intriguing look into the early mind of Christians, who were a very diverse group.

There were originally more than four gospels, and literally hundreds of apostolic letters and manuscripts floating around the ancient world. These were of variable quality literarily and theologically, but it took hundreds of years for the Christian community to come to a consensus about what should be included and what should be excluded. Generally, Gnostic texts were excluded, and this lost gospel of Judas is most likely a Gnostic production, according to the authors. It was referenced by early church leaders such as Irenaeus, who argued strongly for the now-standard vision of four canonical gospels.

What is the issue with this gospel? The central idea that places this text as odds with the canonical gospels is that it paints Judas is a very different light - Judas is no longer the villain who betrays Jesus for his own personal gain, or because of his own spiritual confusion, but rather an obedient servant who, when turning Jesus in to the authorities, is simply following Jesus' own direction as a necessary step for God's plan to come to fulfillment. Judas is portrayed as the closest of the apostles to Jesus, a leader among the apostles, and thus perhaps the object of jealousy.

To be sure, these ideas are not new. Varying images of Judas and confusion about his role have been present throughout much of Christian history, with no single definitive vision of his personality nor his action superseding all others. (See the book on Judas by scholar Kim Paffenroth, published recently). The document highlighted in this text is a 31-page, fragile manuscript dated to approximately the year 300, as a copy of a story that may have originated 150 or more years earlier. The manuscript itself has a colourful history, having been bought, sold, and stolen multiple times. As this book is released, the manuscript is on display at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. This book discusses efforts to preserve the manuscript and halt further deterioration. It traces the fascinating history of this text, and places it in the broader context of other manuscripts that have survived, both from the early days of Christianity, as well as more generally.

This book promises to be of interest to historians, theologians, biblical scholars, and others who find the early days of Christianity fascinating. Even those (like me) who are not willing to lend canonical authority to this rediscovered gospel will find that it brings up ideas and questions that are worth considering.

This book goes along with a companion volume, 'The Gospel of Judas' also published by the National Geographic Society, with commentary by Bart D. Ehrman, and edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst. That volume looks more particularly at the translation of the text with the tools of biblical and historical scholarship brought to bear. Both books are also companions of the new television documentary on the newly discovered text, produced by and shown on the National Geographic channel.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Which "Gospel of Judas" book to buy? Aug. 8 2006
By Su-Sham+ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I first looked to buy a book on the Gospel of Judas, I wasn't sure if I should buy this one, or the one entitled "The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot". In reading the reviews of the two books, both with the National Geographic Society's backing, it was hinted that these two are companioon books, and that's exactly right: This book--"The Gospel of Judas"--focuses on how the Gospel of Judas was brought "to light", so to speak, from its discovery in Egypt to the restoration and publication of an almost completely disintegrated manuscript a few decades later. The second, much smaller book provides the translation of the gospel, and several essays on its meaning and role in early Christianity.

I gave "The Gospel of Judas" four stars rounding up from 3-1/2 stars. It's a fascinating story, but because there is so much "action" going on, it is sometimes difficult to follow the timeline and who's doing what to whom.

My recommendation is to purchase "The Gospel of Judas" if you're interested in archaeology along the lines of a spine-tingling Indiana Jones story. Read "The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot" to see the translation of the Coptic document for yourself and understand how modern scholars believe it fits in with early Christian beliefs before the formation of the Orthodox / Catholic canon in the late fourth century.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book on how the Judas Gospel was found, researched, and published July 25 2006
By Carol Grizzard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you are interested in learning about the wheeling and dealing that is part of this document's history, I recommend this book. If you're more interested in learning in detail about this gospel itself, you might want to try elsewhere.

This book provides an excellent introduction by Bart Ehrman. It does not, however, contain a translation of the gnostic Gospel of Judas (much of it is paraphrased at the end).

The bulk of the book describes how the gospel was found and how it was dealt with (both by the antiquities sellers and by scholars). You will learn a great deal about the Mideastern antiquities market--more than you will about gnosticism.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A restrained, scholarly look at the journey of an ancient book June 23 2006
By Robert M. Kinosian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book was certainly rushed out the door, but I actually think that turned out to be a blessing rather than a curse. It is a fairly straightforward account of the events which occured between the time the Gospel of Judas was pulled out of the ground to the point when it landed in the safe hands of Rodolphe Kasser, Frieda Tchacos Nussberger, et al. There simply wasn't enough time alotted to the project to do much sensationalizing of the events which passed between the two covers, and this makes the story much more interesting because it is actually a very truthful account which seems to stick fairly to the facts gleaned from interviews with the people who were involved.

It is an intriguing story which reveals some of the darker underbelly of the world antiquities market, and is an interesting survey of human nature in general when large sums of money are involved and there is a profit to be made. It is definitely worth the time it takes to read it, and it manages to work in some of the history of the Gospel of Judas itself in occassional chapters which alternate with the main story.

If you are looking for the English translation of the gospel itself and commentary on its contents, there is another book which was published at the same time entitled, "The Gospel of Judas" which you should certainly check out as well.
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