Lost for 1,600 years, the "Gospel of Judas" was discovered in Egypt in the 1970s. Nearly 30 years later, when it reached scholars who could unlock its meaning, it was clear this was a major biblical discovery. In its telling our understanding of Jesus' death, of Judas' betrayal, and of why God allowed it, are all altered. "Reading Judas" explores the meanings of the Gospel, unpacking its startling claim that not only did Jesus ask Judas to betray him, but also that the other disciples killed Judas: he didn't commit suicide. From this, it moves on to explain how each Gospel - whether New Testament or 'heretical' - supports one (or more) disciple and is a rallying point for different groups in the early Church, with competing views and doubts on their new faith, including the meaning of Jesus' death and the importance of sacrifice. Encompassing the serious questions of Christianity (Why do we suffer? Can women be leaders? How did early Christians find meaning in Jesus' death?), "Reading Judas" throws open the world of the early Christians and shows that there are many interpretations of the Christian faith. It lets us see afresh this diversity of view point even within the New Testament itself.
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Breaks new ground ( Time Magazine )
Pagels and King do an excellent job in explaining why mainstream Christianity has got it wrong for so long ( The New York Times )
Fascinating … impressive … takes such a refreshing approach to its subject (On Sunday Scotland )
Engaging, thought-provoking … wears its scholarship lightly ( Church Times )
Karen L. King is Winn Professor of ecclesiastical history at Harvard Divinity School and the author of four books on Gnosticism. Elaine Pagels is Harrington Spear Paine Professor of religion at Princeton University. Her book The Gnostic Gospels is still in print from Penguin.
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