Tom Bartlett, the reporter who wrote the article about the sloppiness of National Geographic’s Gospel of Judas project, was kind enough to email his response to NG’s “rebuttal” of his article.Â Here is his reply (NG’s rebuttal comments are marked by *):
The press release that National Geographic issued in response to my article “The Betrayal of Judas” is filled with errors and nonsense. Below are a few of the more egregious inaccuracies:
*Â “Contrary to the article’s assertion, the translation took years (not months) to complete.”
Here’s what the article actually says:
“It all happened in record time. In the cases of other newly discovered ancient texts, the process of translation and interpretation has dragged on for years. But it was only about eight months from the time Marvin Meyer was brought on that the gospel was announced to the public.”
Meyer confirmed this timeline to me in an e-mail. Meyer was the primary English translator and it was his translation that other scholars, like Bart Ehrman, used as the basis for their own critical essays. This part of the project did not take years; it took months.
* “This was an enormously complex project, but hardly a ‘secret’ in biblical circles.”
My article does not say that the existence of the Gospel of Judas was a secret in biblical circles. I make it clear that other scholars knew of its existence for decades. The article does say that other scholars complained about the “secrecy” of the project, i.e., that the material wasn’t shared with scholars outside of the National Geographic team. There is a difference.
* “Virtually all issues your article raises about translation choices are addressed in extensive footnotes in both the popular and critical editions of the gospel. Unfortunately, Thomas Bartlett chose to ignore that fact …”
I did not ignore that fact. I mention both the second edition and the critical edition of the Judas book and note that some errors have since been corrected and that alternate readings are now included. I even quote from those footnotes. (For the record, the best-selling first edition of the book and the television documentary watched by millions do not include these caveats.)
* “What Bartlett doesn’t tell the reader is that DeConick’s criticisms, which appeared in an op-ed piece in the New York Times in December 2007, were timed to coincide with the release of her own book about the Gospel of Judas.”
Wrong.Â Her book came out two months before the NY Times op-ed. Regardless, I mention both her book and the op-ed in my article and I include the publication dates for both.
I understand that National Geographic must be reeling from criticism of its Judas project by biblical scholars. But your sloppy, bewildering response to my article doesn’t help your case.