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Gospel of Judas explored at CSUB History Forum
  October 9, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138,

California State University, Bakersfield's history and religious studies departments will host Birger Pearson, University of California, Santa Barbara religious studies professor, for their fall History Forum on Friday, Oct. 13, at 3:30 p.m. in the Albertson Room at CSUB. Pearson will present the topic, "Discoveries in Early Christianity: Gnostic Manuscripts and the Gospel of Judas."

According to Pearson one aspect of early Christianity is the rise of a particular variety often referred to as Gnosticism. The author of 1 Timothy in the New Testament warns his readers against "knowledge falsely so-called," and from the mid-second century, church fathers were denouncing "heretics" espousing a Gnostic variety of Christianity. Thanks to twentieth-century discoveries in Egypt of Coptic manuscripts containing the writings of many of those heretics, there is a much better picture of early Christian Gnosticism, he said.

Pearson believes the most important of these manuscripts are the Nag Hammadi Codices, discovered in 1945. But more recently another Coptic Gnostic codex has come to light containing a "Gospel of Judas," or Judas Iscariot, who, according to Christian tradition, betrayed Jesus Christ. In his lecture, Pearson will discuss the Coptic manuscripts and their importance, summarize early Christian traditions about Judas Iscariot, and describe the contents of Judas' new gospel and the role that Judas plays in it. He will also show slides illustrating work he did on some of the Nag Hammadi Codices in the Coptic Museum in Old Cairo.

The History Forum started in March 2000 and presents one speaker per academic quarter. Past topics have included the history of the Basque settlement in Bakersfield presented by Jeri Echeverria, Fresno State University provost and historian; the history of the California wine industry by historian Victor Geraci, oral history and the Chicano experience in World War II given by Mario Garcia, from the University of California, Santa Barbara; an analysis of the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine presented by Mark Baker, CSUB history professor; an analysis on pre-national, pre-modern Ukrainian culture and icons of the Last Judgment, John-Paul Himka, history professor at the University of Alberta (Canada).

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, please contact the history department at (661) 654-3079 or the religious studies department at (661) 654-2291.