Today’s NYT has a story about how GJudas finally came to light. The eye-catcher is this:
I think I was chosen by Judas to rehabilitate him,” Ms. Tchacos Nussberger, 65, is quoted as saying in one of the society’s books, “The Lost Gospel,” by Herbert Krosney. Mr. Krosney is also an independent television producer who brought the gospel project to National Geographic.
But the heart of the articles is really about the legal and ethical issues involved in acquiring, handling, and publishing these rare lost works. When I first heard about this story a little more than a year ago, I immediately googled it, only to find that most of the hits also included INTERPOL.
In accordance with my new status as a skolur, I am interested in seeing things like this studied and published. We want very high quality images and some radiocarbon testing. We also probably want some access to the original, just in case we have to decide whether this or that mark is ink left by an ancient scribe or something less savory left by an equally ancient fly. And of course, we don’t want it destroyed, lost, or any further deterioration.
And the last two cost $$$.
Then there’s the folks who ‘handle’ this kind of stuff. Sometimes their interest is money, sometimes fame, sometimes they’re real skolurs, and sometimes they’re just weird, too. That last three don’t always preclude the first, either.
Then there’s the dirt-poor dudes who hauled it out of some cave, probably located about ten feet from the east entrance to Hell. They NEED money. And they did find it, after all.
And the legal profession. Notice how fast that lawyer put himself in a paying position. Most of us would agree that the “real owners” are in no condition to appreciate the significance of their possessions, at least until the resurrection. But noooooo, we gotta find some new “real owners,” whose current body temperature will support legal intervention.
So…what to do, what to do? How do you get stuff like this out for study? Do you let the market drive the price? How do you attach a “reasonable value” to something like the GJudas? How do you get that “reasonable value” to the right folks without most of the money ending up with the lawyers, who are themselves about as important as the “real owners.”
You’d think that after more or less looting the Levant and the wider classical world for the last 300 years, we’d have this figured out!