Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Gospel Of Judas: A Description Of The Codex (Part 3)

Previous Posts: Part 1, Part 2.

AP: Today we'll be talking about the actual text of the Gospel of Judas. It's written in Coptic, which is the last phase of the Egyptian language as it evolved and changed over time. This phase also coincides with the blossoming of Christianity in Egypt and the adoption of a new writing system using an alphabet. Coptic was a relatively simple language, especially when compared to the hieroglyphic system for which the Egyptians are most well known. The Coptic language served the purpose of the evangelization of the Nile basin, and it was very important vehicle for the dissemination of Christianity. The bible and many other Christian texts were translated into Coptic, works like homilies, lives of the saints, etc.

Coptic has several dialects. The two most important are Sahidic and Bohairic. Sahidic is associated with upper Egypt in the area of the La Tebaida.  Bohairic originated in the Delta. The Bible was first translated into Sahidic, and, therefore, emerged as a sort of 'classical' or 'vehicular' language. That explains why this Coptic translation of the Gospel of Judas would be in Sahidic. Nevertheless, the Sahidic dialect in which our text is written is not pure. It has suffered some contamination from the dialect of the area in which the manuscript was found. This sort of helps confirm its place of origin.

The text is complete. In other words, we have its beginning and its end, which are marked by the the title of the work. It has a general dialogue structure, which is what we find with the other apocryphal Gospels. It contains almost no narration of facts, but just collects the conversations Jesus had with the apostles, and with Judas in particular. What really sets this text apart from the canonical Gospels, as we shall see, are the cosmological and apocalyptic interpretations they contain, which are complicated. But they also share in common many expressions, images, and metaphors, which greatly resemble the text of the Gospels.

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