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"...The Gospel of Judas tells a riveting story that many people find new. It says that Jesus asked Judas to betray him, thus setting the Passion into motion. But the gospel's provenance shows that some things don't change in a couple of millenniums — except for inflation. Thirty pieces of silver then, or $1.5 million now: It's still about money...."This LA Times editorial raises issues about not only the provenance of the Gospel of Judas manusript, but the ethical issues involved in how it was acquired and how it is being used today -- issues which National Geographic did not address in the program they aired recently.
These issues, of course, do not detract from the fact that this is a significant historical document that provides many clues as to the mindset of the Cainite Gnostics of the second century A.D. (even if it does not tell us much useful about Jesus).
An interesting assertion in this editorial is that the antiquity dealer's lawyer sold only the rights to use the material to National Geographic -- since selling an antiquity whose history is not documented is illegal. It is also interesting to note that this particular dealer has been convicted in the past of possessing looted objects.
The LA Times points out that that National Geographic did make it possible to restore the manuscript, and it seems that the papyrus is now under Egyptian control. But the act of cutting deals with questionable antiquity dealers and the failure to acknowledge that fact leaves out an important part of the story.
Much important information has been irretrievably lost by looters and unscrupulous dealers -- information that could have been obtained by competent archaeologists using the methods of their profession. Such information would have given us even more insight to the various groups operating at the fringes of Christianity.
Technorati tags: Religion, archaeology, ethics