WASHINGTON (May 8, 2006)–What if an ancient gospel were rediscovered that offered a radically different perspective on a man that history has portrayed as the ultimate villain? What if this account turned Jesus’ betrayal on its head, and in it the villain became a hero? Following its highly rated premiere on the National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Home Entertainment explores these questions in depth in the compelling new DVD “The Gospel of Judas.” Packed with bonus features, the DVD offers 40 minutes of unseen footage, extended interviews and an interactive timeline tracing the history of the codex containing the Gospel of Judas.
The DVD is available now for $24.95 from National Geographic stores and catalog, online at ShopNGVideos.com, or by calling 800-627-5162. The DVD will be available at most retailers where videos are sold on Tuesday, June 6, for $19.98 SRP.
Bonus features include:
– “Authenticating the Gospel,” a featurette detailing the scientific processes employed to accurately time-date the codex.
– Extended interviews with some of the world’s foremost biblical scholars and
– Elaine Pagels, Princeton University
– Rev. Donald Senior, C.P., ordained Catholic priest and president of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago
– Marvin Meyer, Chapman University
– Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College
– Bart D. Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the recent New York Times bestseller “Misquoting Jesus.”
– Interactive timeline of the codex’s incredible journey.
– English translation of one page of the codex.
“The Gospel of Judas” traces the journey of this 1,700-year-old document, from its recovery in an Egyptian cave three decades ago, its travels across three continents, the five-year conservation process, its authentication and, finally, its laborious translation and interpretation.
The New Testament tells us that Judas Iscariot is the disciple who betrayed Jesus. For centuries his name has been synonymous with treachery and deceit. This gospel tells a different story, reframing Judas as the disciple closest to Jesus, who committed his act of betrayal at Jesus’ behest.
Discovered by chance in the Egyptian desert, sold twice and stolen once, the race was now on to preserve its pages before they turned to dust. But when was this gospel written, and by whom? The research and documentary reveal fascinating details contained within the document as well as key sections translated from its ancient Coptic script. A team of biblical scholars and scientists verifies its authenticity through a complex process involving radiocarbon dating, ink analysis, multispectral imaging and contextual evidence.
“The Gospel of Judas” presents a lost version of the last days of Jesus, using recreation sequences to portray and clarify the complex story of intrigue and politics of the earliest days of Christianity and the contents of the gospel itself.
“The Gospel of Judas turns Judas’ act of betrayal into an act of obedience,” says Evans. “The sacrifice of Jesus’ body of flesh in fact becomes saving. And so for that reason, Judas emerges as the champion and he ends up being envied and even cursed and resented by the other disciples.”
This surviving Gospel of Judas manuscript was likely written down sometime around A.D. 300, but the first known reference to a Gospel of Judas was around A.D. 180, when the influential early Christian bishop Irenaeus denounced it as heretical. By then there were many accounts of Jesus’ life and times written by various early Christians in the 150 years after his death, in more than 30 gospels. Irenaeus helped clarify the Christian message by arguing that there should be just four approved Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All others, including the Gospel of Judas, were branded as off-limits by early Church fathers.
“Whether or not one agrees with it, or finds it interesting or reprehensible, it’s an enormously interesting perspective on it that some follower of Jesus in the early Christian movement obviously thought was significant,” says Pagels.
Pages from the document are on exhibit at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall in Washington. Once the conservation process is complete, the document will be delivered to its country of origin, Egypt, and housed in Cairo’s Coptic Museum.
The Society is sharing information about the Gospel of Judas in a feature article in the May 2006 issue of National Geographic magazine, a comprehensive Web site at nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel and two books. An illustrated, critical edition of the codex will be published in the coming year.
“The Gospel of Judas” was produced for the National Geographic Channel by National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F). Senior executive producer is Michael Rosenfeld and executive producer is John Bredar. James Barrat is the producer and director. The script was written by Bredar and Barrat. Emmanuel Mairesse and Salvatore Vecchio are the editors, and Cheryl Zook is the coordinating producer. For the National Geographic Channel, executive vice president of programming is John Ford.
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“The Gospel of Judas”
Street Date:June 6, 2006
Pre-Order Date:Available Now
Suggested Retail Price:$19.98 (DVD)
Feature Run Time:87 Minutes