Originally posted by japike
Ah very interesting! Oh it drives me crazy how long it takes to get them out to the public. I am very interested in the Gospel of Judas!
The main problem with quick publication is that whichever scholar gets hold of a text wants to make his reputation -- a quick publication will
inevitably be superficial. This was the problem with Nag Hammadi, and James Robinson had to do a lot of politicking to get past it. In the case of
the 'Gospel of Judas' the dubious ownership of the text has a lot to do with it.
It seems to me the most important texts are Nag and Gospel of Thomas would you agree? Also what would you say are the next in line as importance of
It depends entirely 'important to whom'. For the study of gnosticism, certainly the Nag Hammadi texts are the most important, which include the
coptic Gospel of Thomas. But they tell us nothing much about Christian origins, unless we belong to the sort of revisionist that tries to date
Christianity late and heresy early. That always irritates me, I must say. They do tell us something about the paganism of the day, since they
combine Christianity and paganism, as Tertullian alleged the gnostics did (De praescriptione haereticorum
7ff -- ideally in Greenslade's
translation). One example may be the references in the 'Gospel of Judas' to Jesus as Allogenes -- the stranger. Such a description will
immediately suggest the Stranger of Plato's Laws
to those who have read them; and it is a fact that the Nag Hammadi codices did contain
portions of Plato.
More interesting to me are the Toura discoveries of lost works by Origen and Didymus the Blind. The discoveries of Manichean texts at Medinet Madu
are important for that subject also.
Also whats the deal with the Vatican? Do you think they are sitting on a lot of misc texts in the Vatican library? It kind of pisses me off that the
would keep secrets like that! Who are they to control a man's knowledge of history fake or not! I am just guessing they do with many other texts
based on the summary of Judas...fill me in though.
The idea that the Vatican hide texts is a Victorian urban legend. The Vatican did used to have closed shelves. The example I know of is the single
medieval manuscript of Zosimus, New History
, which abused Constantine and the Christians, and sat on those shelves for centuries. But such
habits ended in the mid-19th century.
What did not stop was the sheer difficulty of getting access, or of using the collection when you did. Scholars couldn't get access. Those who did
were forbidden to copy anything, even by hand. They weren't allowed to consult the catalogue. And so on. Naturally rumours sprang up about what
the papists were trying to hide.
The truth, according to a recent paper which I wish I'd kept, was more prosaic. It was that the popes employed Italian librarians. Even today these
are an utter pain in the neck to deal with. I've had very few responses to emails to them. Around 1900 the then pope got fed up with all the bad
publicity, and turned the running of the library over to the Swiss guard. These are all Germans, and so very efficient. Consequently during the last
century the collection has been very thoroughly examined. They are also one of only two libraries to respond by email to my enquiries about a
particular manuscript. So new texts will be found elsewhere.
All the best,