Do you remember when the National Geographic Society unveiled the Gospel of Judas a couple of years ago? The newly discovered document supposedly contained a positive portrayal of Judas Iscariot, the man whom the canonical Gospels say betrayed Jesus.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story about the aftermath of National Geographic’s unveiling, and it is not a pretty picture.
‘When the Gospel of Judas was unveiled at a news conference in April 2006, it made headlines around the world â€” with nearly all of those articles touting the new and improved Judas. “In Ancient Document, Judas, Minus the Betrayal,” read the headline in The New York Times. The British paper The Guardian called it “a radical makeover for one of the worst reputations in history.” A documentary that aired a few days later on National Geographic’s cable channel also pushed the Judas-as-hero theme. The premiere attracted four million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated program in the channel’s history, behind only a documentary on September 11.
‘But almost immediately, other scholars began to take issue with the interpretation . . . of the National Geographic team. They didn’t see a good Judas at all. In fact, this Judas seemed more evil than ever. Those early voices of dissent have since grown into a chorus, some of whom argue that National Geographic’s handling of the project amounts to scholarly malpractice. It’s a perfect example, critics argue, of what can happen when commercial considerations are allowed to ride roughshod over careful research. What’s more, the controversy has strained friendships in this small community of religion scholars â€” causing some on both sides of the argument to feel, in a word, betrayed.’
So much for scholarly objectivity.