One of the problems with the media frenzy approach to unveiling things like this is that of course careful scholarly analysis of any ancient document takes time. Knee jerk reactions are usually just that. Enough time has passed now that the dubious claims of scholars like Marvin Meyer, Karen King, and Elaine Pagels about this document have begun not only to be challenged but to be refuted in detail. One such attempt at refutation has come from a scholar at Rice University in Houston, Dr. April Deconick, who has now written a book entitled "The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really says". Here is the link to the op-ed piece about this book in the NY Times.
Here is some of what Dr. Deconick claims:
"Several of the translation choices made by the society's scholars fall well outside the commonly accepted practices in the field. For example, in one instance the National Geographic transcription refers to Judas as a "daimon," which the society's experts have translated as "spirit." Actually, the universally accepted word for "spirit" is "pneuma " — in Gnostic literature "daimon" is always taken to mean "demon."
Likewise, Judas is not set apart "for" the holy generation, as the National Geographic translation says, he is separated "from" it. He does not receive the mysteries of the kingdom because "it is possible for him to go there." He receives them because Jesus tells him that he can't go there, and Jesus doesn't want Judas to betray him out of ignorance. Jesus wants him informed, so that the demonic Judas can suffer all that he deserves.
Perhaps the most egregious mistake I found was a single alteration made to the original Coptic. According to the National Geographic translation, Judas's ascent to the holy generation would be cursed. But it's clear from the transcription that the scholars altered the Coptic original, which eliminated a negative from the original sentence. In fact, the original states that Judas will "not ascend to the holy generation." To its credit, National Geographic has acknowledged this mistake, albeit far too late to change the public misconception.
So what does the Gospel of Judas really say? It says that Judas is a specific demon called the "Thirteenth." In certain Gnostic traditions, this is the given name of the king of demons — an entity known as Ialdabaoth who lives in the 13th realm above the earth. Judas is his human alter ego, his undercover agent in the world. These Gnostics equated Ialdabaoth with the Hebrew Yahweh, whom they saw as a jealous and wrathful deity and an opponent of the supreme God whom Jesus came to earth to reveal." (extracted from the NY Times article).
Why were some of these errors made in the translation? Dr. Deconick goes on to suggest that part of the problem was the desire of National Geographic to have an exclusive, and so they made scholars sign a non-disclosure statement. In other words, the translation was not adequately peer reviewed by the scholarly community. In fact, the dice was pretty loaded to begin with, to be honest. By this I mean very few conservative scholars (Craig Evans would be an exception) were invited to participate in the process of the unveiling of this document. And even when they participated, National Geographic was determined to make as much hay as it could out of this 'revelation', even if later scholarly criticism was to show that the exaggerated initial claims were out of all proportion to the actual content, much less the merits of the document itself.
As many of us have been saying for some time, the author or authors of this document were not Christians at all. They were anti-Christians, and they had a very serious ax to grind against orthodox Christians and their faith, including having a major problem with the idea that Jesus' death atoned for the sins of the world. More to the point, and more importantly, this document is far too late to add any new historical information at all about the historical Jesus or the historical Judas, and the obvious bias of the document would have ruled it out from doing so even it was a century older than in fact it is.
It is time to stop talking about 'lost Christianities'. For one things, scholars have known about the Gnostics, the Ebionites, the Marcionites and others for centuries. Neither Gnosticism nor Marcion's movement has any serious historical claims to have begun during the time that the original eyewitnesses and apostles of Jesus lived. Indeed, there is no good historical evidence either existed before the second century A.D. And it is especially unhelpful to call something a form of early Christianity which is in fact antithetical to the claims made about Jesus and his movement by our earliest and best sources for the study of early Christianity-- the documents that ended up in the New Testament. If one is 'Christian' the other is not, or else the law of non-contradiction must be deemed to have ceased to function in the discussion of earliest Christianity.
As for the Gospel of Judas, my friend Amy Jill Levine at Vanderbilt is absolutely right-- the Gospel of Judas, like the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip are interesting but they tell us nothing whatsoever about the historical Jesus and his earliest followers, and they never did. They do tell us about some of the forms of reaction to orthodox Christianity in the second through fifth centuries of church history. As such they are important for the study of the post-apostolic period of church history. They are not important for the study of the New Testament era itself.