CSBS 2006 – Special Lecture on the Gospel of Judas by Dr. Bart Ehrman

CSBSLogo.gifMonday evening (29 May 2006) there was a special joint lecture sponsored in part by the CSBS by Bart Ehrman entitled “The Alternative Vision of the Gospel of Judas.�

Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is one scholar who has been able to bridge the gap between the academy and the public. He is the only biblical scholar I know who has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in connection with his book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com) (click here to watch a video of his interview).

ehrman.jpgEhrman’s lecture focused on uncovering the significance of the “Gospel of Judas,” the recently uncovered second-century gnostic gospel that has been all the rage in recent months. In a nutshell, the significance of this gospel text, according to Ehrman, is not because it is somehow more authentic than the canonical gospels or because it somehow undermines the very foundations of Christianity. Rather, its real significance is because it is a serious document of real historical significance which gives us a glimpse into gnostic thinking in antiquity. According to Ehrman, the text’s closest ties are with various Sethian forms of Gnosticism, although it has clear alliances with other forms of early Christian thought (Valentinian, Thomasine, Marcionite). He even argued that there appears to be remnants of Jewish apocalyptic theology in the surviving text. He also noted how it has some unique characteristics compared to other gnostic texts, such as the sympathetic portrayal of Judas as the only disciple who really understood Jesus’ work and message (sounds like The Last Temptation of Christ). The lecture was well done, although considering his audience was mainly academics, he could have raised the level of the lecture a bit.

After the lecture I went to a local watering hole with Ehrman and a few others. It was great to meet Ehrman in person and have some more infomal time with him. Among other things, I was very pleased to learn that Ehrman is not a Carolina Hurricanes fan! (Of course, he’s not an Oilers fan either. In fact, he doesn’t get into hockey at all! What a loser :-))

Here are some works on the Gospel of Judas, including some forthcoming ones by Ehrman and another by Tom Wright.

Here is a very select bibliography of some of Ehrman’s recent works:

Ehrman’s scholarship is typically of a high quality, though he does have an axe to grind with fundamentalist Christianity (growing up as one himself). He also tends to pander to the sensational, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as he is able to maintain his academic integrity in the process. All of this slants his scholarship somewhat, but his works are worth reading — albeit with a critical eye.

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2 Responses to CSBS 2006 – Special Lecture on the Gospel of Judas by Dr. Bart Ehrman

  1. Jim says:

    Does Wright write a book every time he goes to the bathroom?

  2. While I have enjoyed the books if his that I have read, it sure seems like it! It looks like Ehrman may be entering into the same crowd of those who never have an unpublished thought — along with Wright, Neusner, McGrath, Brueggemann, et al.

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