May 30, 2008

The Story Behind the Story

I don't think you need a theology degree to find this interesting (I could be wrong) but The Chronicle of Higher Education has a good article up entitled, The Betrayal of Judas, that gives us the behind the scenes story on the production of the much-hyped National Geographic publishing extravaganza surrounding the "rediscovery" and their subsequent purchase and translation of the ancient gnostic text known as "The Gospel of Judas."  I've been waiting for a fuller accounting of things since the NYT ran an op-ed at the end of last year by April DeConick which shot fatal holes in the very heart of the National Geographic teams research at the most fundamental level, i.e. their translation of the ancient texts.  Much of what comes out in the Chronicle piece was hinted at in that op-ed and the original findings by the Geographic team are generally regarded as bad scholarship at this point but the picture it paints of those scholarly choices being driven by the financial investment (and I would assume the expected eventual return on that investment) that National Geographic had made in the media blitz they were planning on unleashing are really fascinating no matter what field of scholarship you are in, fascinating and troubling.  

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