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The Secrets of Judas by James M. Robinson
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The Secrets of Judas

by James M. Robinson

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The 'Secrets of Judas' is of specialist interest to scholars who may be interested in the shady history of double dealing over a period of more than 20 years that eventually resulted in the publication of the Judas 'gospel'. Over the course of those dealings a substantial part of the fragile papyrus original has been lost. The book is of little interest to those readers who are interested in the content, meaning or significance of the Judas gospel. When Robinson does address the questions of meaning or significance, he does so with quite unexpected simple-mindedness, given his eminence as an authority. He concludes this early section of the book with a couple of questions and a reflection: 'So should we forgive Judas? Love our enemy? I do not think the efforts to argue that he did the right thing to do under the circumstances have proven their case. But I do think we can stop using him as a whipping boy, and seek a fairer, more forgiving relation to him'. This is flatulent stuff, explicable only as a self conscious attempt by Robinson to write down to his audience.

As others have pointed out, the title page and blurb mislead about the content of the book. Stylistically, it is repellent. Robinson writes with an irritating sense of his own self importance and a barely concealed resentment that he was excluded from the inner circle that eventually produced Judas gospel and its commentary. The limited value that of the book as a history of the complex negotiations that preceded publication is diminished by the absence of an index and bibliography. ( )
  LeaderElliott | Apr 11, 2015 |
This work by a petulant scholar spends more than half the book going into gory, repetitive detail about the dirty dealings of the people who acquired and translated the Gospel of Judas (not him). The final two chapters actually deal with Judas, but it doesn't really add anything new to what I've read before, and his hypotheses are presented as fait accompli without evidence - he says it, you believe it. They are, in short, just so stories. Excessive in its redundancy and petulance, it is further marred by an extraordinary number of exclamation points. So many exclamations would feel out of place in a non-scholarly work; in a scholarly one, it is totally inappropriate to have several exclamation points per page. Definitely might want to look elsewhere for your enlightenment. ( )
  Devil_llama | Sep 2, 2014 |
Written prior to the National Geographic publication of the translated text of "The Gospel of Judas," this book outlines the questions still surrounding the mystery of Judas, and covers in exhaustive detail the acquisition and significance of this singular Coptic codex. It does not paint a rosy picture of the process during which significant deterioration took place. It also does not deal with the actual translated contents of the codex. It is nevertheless a valuable look at the discovery of yet another ancient document of very early Christian history. ( )
  mldavis2 | Aug 5, 2011 |
At the time of the publication of "The Secrets of Judas," the titular gospel had not yet been published. It was still held in "private archives," undergoing translation, scholarly study, and the fomenting of a massive hurricane of media spin. The main gripe I have about this book is that the it was written primarily--almost blatantly--to cash in upon the great public interest whipped up by the then-unreleased gospel. And therefore, there isn't that much actual substance to the book.

Don't get me wrong. I found much of the information interesting, but it lacked meat. Most of it could have been contained in a scholarly journal article, and, because the actual gospel text had not been made public, there was no commentary on the content of the Gospel of Judas, which when I purchased the book was what I was really interested in.

The book's content mainly concerns two things: how the manuscript came to be known to the modern world, and a dissection of the character of Judas based on previously known texts. It was all good information, interesting information, but it wasn't enough to justify a book on the subject. The real story was the discovery of a new biblical-era text, and that was missing from the work.

Maybe the reason I felt so dissatisfied was the fact that I went into it with different expectations. That's partly my fault, but some of the blame undoubtedly lies with the publisher, who billed this work as more than it really was. That's why I only gave the book two and a half stars. It didn't have all that much information in it, and the process of reading it left me feeling cheated. ( )
  WillyMammoth | Jan 10, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061170631, Hardcover)

The discovery of a previously lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot has electrified the Christian community. What Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us about Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is inconsistent and biased. Therefore, the revelation of an ancient gospel that portrays this despised man as someone who saw his role in the Passion of Christ as integral to a larger plan—a divine plan—brings new clarity to the old story. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have been handed over to the authorities, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. Could it be that without Judas, the Easter miracle would never have happened? In The Secrets of Judas, James M. Robinson, an expert historian of early Christianity, examines the Bible and other ancient texts and reveals what we can and cannot know about the life of the historical Judas, his role in Jesus''s crucifixion, and whether the Christian church should reevaluate his intentions and possible innocence. Robinson tells the sensational story of the discovery of a gospel attributed to Judas, and shows how this affects Judas''s newfound meaning for history and for the Christian faith.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The discovery of a previously lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot has electrified the Christian community. What Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us about Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is inconsistent and biased. Therefore, the revelation of an ancient gospel that portrays this despised man as someone who saw his role in the Passion of Christ as integral to a larger plan -- a divine plan -- brings new clarity to the old story. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have been handed over to the authorities, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. Could it be that without Judas, the Easter miracle would never have happened? In The Secrets of Judas, James M. Robinson, an expert historian of early Christianity, examines the Bible and other ancient texts and reveals what we can and cannot know about the life of the historical Judas, his role in Jesus's crucifixion, and whether the Christian church should reevaluate his intentions and possible innocence. Robinson tells the sensational story of the discovery of a gospel attributed to Judas, and shows how this affects Judas's newfound meaning for history and for the Christian faith.… (more)

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