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The Gospel Of Judas


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I've been following articles on the web that announce the publishing of a new gospel. The Gospel of Judas seems to be Gnostic in content and composition, and it appears to be from Greek origins. The following descriptions give some general information on this event that's supposed to occur early in April.


flow.... :)




Judas in the spotlight

By Stacy Meichtry

Religion News Service


To many Christians, Caravaggio's 1602 painting, "The Taking of Christ," is one of the most dramatic moments of their faith — the kiss of Judas and the arrest of Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane.


The first translation of an ancient, self-proclaimed "Gospel of Judas" will be published next month, bringing to light what some scholars believe are writings of an early Christian sect suppressed for supporting Jesus Christ's betrayer.


If authentic, the manuscript could add to the understanding of Gnosticism, an unorthodox Christian theology denounced by the early church.


The Roman Catholic Church is aware of the manuscript, which a Vatican historian calls "religious fantasy."


Scholars who have seen photos of the brittle manuscript say it argues that Judas Iscariot was carrying out God's will when he handed Christ over to his executioners.


The manuscript's owner says he has cut a deal with the National Geographic Society to release an English translation with a multimedia splash after Easter.


Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, chief of the Vatican's Committee for Historical Science, calls it "a product of religious fantasy" and said it would have no impact on church teaching.


A tattered document


Brushed onto 31 pages of papyrus in Coptic, an Egyptian script, the manuscript is tattered after centuries beneath the sands of Egypt and decades on the gray market.


According to Mario Roberty, a Swiss lawyer who owns the manuscript, the document, known as a "codex," has undergone restoration and translation by a team of researchers headed by the Swiss Coptic scholar Rodolphe Kasser.


Roberty would not discuss the contents of the codex, but scholars have already begun to anticipate its findings.




Working from photos of the codex, Charles Hedrick, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Missouri State University, has translated six pages into English, including the codex's title "The Gospel of Judas."


Some of the passages echo New Testament descriptions of Christ's arrest, recalling how Roman authorities aimed to "seize [Christ] in the act of prayer" and how Judas "took some money and he delivered [Christ] over to them," Hedrick said.


Judas aids in the arrest of Christ, he said, but "Judas is not a bad guy in this text. ... He is the good guy and he is serving God."


Hedrick and other scholars say the codex was produced in the fourth or fifth century and reflects the traditions of a second-century sect of Gnostics, a community that believed true spirituality derived from a self-knowledge, or "gnosis."


As early as A.D. 178, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a heresy watchdog of the early church, targeted the community.


"They produce a fictitious history ... which they style the Gospel of Judas," Irenaeus wrote in "Against Heresies."


William Klassen, author of "Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus?", considers the manuscript an asset to ongoing scholarly efforts to rehabilitate Judas' historical image.


Many scholars believe Judas — whose name literally means "Jewish man" — was a victim of anti-Jewish slander that pervaded early Christianity in its struggle to break from Judaism.


Withholding judgment


But other scholars are withholding judgment until the manuscript has been publicly authenticated.


Michael White, director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at the University of Texas, said that may prove difficult.


"They have to file artifacts of that sort with the government's archaeological oversight board," White said.


According to Roberty, documentation is unavailable because the codex was smuggled out of Egypt before he purchased it in 2001.


"The manuscript itself was illegally exported because it had been stolen in Egypt," Roberty said, adding that he planned to eventually return it to Egypt.


James Robinson, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Claremont Graduate University, vouched for the document's authenticity based on his experience in trying to purchase it as early as 1983.


"I don't know of any scholar who thinks this is fake," said Robinson, who is not involved in the National Geographic project. He has never seen the manuscript firsthand, but he arranged a meeting in 1983 between Stephen Emmel, a Coptic scholar at the University of Muenster in Germany, and John Pedrios, a Greek dealer who was negotiating its sale.


Emmel said then that he was able to authenticate the codex as a genuine fourth- or fifth-century manuscript but that the meeting ran too short for him to say whether it contained the gospel.


Reached by phone in Cairo, Emmel confirmed his report but declined to say whether the manuscript he saw decades ago is the forthcoming gospel.


"I can say that the thought never crossed my mind that it was anything but a genuine Coptic papyrus codex from the fourth or fifth century," he said.


BC-Gospel of Judas,0762


The mysterious "Gospel of Judas" won't tell us anything about Jesus' infamous disciple, an expert predicts


NEW YORK — An expert on ancient Egyptian texts is predicting that the "Gospel of Judas" — a manuscript from early Christian times that's nearing release amid widespread interest from scholars — will be a dud in terms of learning anything new about Judas.


James M. Robinson, America's leading expert on such ancient religious texts from Egypt, predicts in a new book that the text won't offer any insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus. His reason: While it's old, it's not old enough.


"Does it go back to Judas? No," Robinson told The Associated Press on Thursday.


The text, in Egypt's Coptic language, dates from the third or fourth century and is a copy of an earlier document. The National Geographic Society, along with other groups, has been studying the "Judas" text.


The society said Thursday it will release its report on the document "within the next few weeks" but didn't specify whether that would come via a book, magazine article or telecast.


Robinson has not seen the text that National Geographic is working on, but assumes it is the same work assailed by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons around A.D. 180.


Irenaeus said the writings came from a "Cainite" Gnostic sect that jousted against orthodox Christianity. He also accused the Cainites of lauding the biblical murderer Cain, the Sodomites and Judas, whom they regarded as the keeper of secret mysteries.


National Geographic's collaborators on the translation and interpretation of the text include its current owner — Mario Roberti's Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Basel, Switzerland — and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery in La Jolla, Calif. Rodolphe Kasser, formerly of the University of Geneva, is the editor.


Robinson writes that the journey of the text to Switzerland was "replete with smugglers, black-market antiquities dealers, religious scholars, backstabbing partners and greedy entrepreneurs." In the process, Robinson fears, the fragile text may have been mishandled and parts of it lost forever.


Robinson is an emeritus professor at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University, chief editor of religious documents found in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, and an international leader among scholars of Coptic manuscripts.


He says the text is valuable to scholars of the second century but dismissed the notion that it'll reveal unknown biblical secrets. He speculated the timing of the release is aimed at capitalizing on interest in the film version of "The Da Vinci Code" — a fictional tale that centers on a Christian conspiracy to cover up a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.


"There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth-century gospels attributed to various apostles," Robinson said. "We don't really assume they give us any first century information."


A National Geographic response said "it's ironic" for Robinson to raise such questions since for years "he tried unsuccessfully to acquire this codex himself, and is publishing his own book in April, despite having no direct access to the materials."


National Geographic said it practiced "due diligence" with scholars "to save the manuscript before it turns to dust and is lost forever" and that everyone involved is committed to returning the materials to Egypt.


In "The Secrets of Judas," a HarperSanFrancisco book on sale April 1, Robinson will describe secretive maneuvers in the United States, Switzerland, Greece and elsewhere over two decades to sell the "Judas" manuscript.


He writes that he was approached about purchasing a group of manuscripts in 1983 and arranged for colleague Stephen Emmel, now at the University of Muenster, Germany, to meet in Geneva with go-betweens for the owner.


Emmel got a glimpse of the text but didn't know it was the "Gospel of Judas" till years later. He was told the original asking price was $10 million but it could be obtained for $3 million, an impossibly high figure for the interested Americans.


From there, Robinson traces a twisted sales trail through years and continents to this year's impending release.


Emmel is now a member of the National Geographic team along with other former students of Robinson, who hopes his colleagues will be pr Gospel of Judas has Church worried







THE Gospel of Judas - said to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times - is about to be published amid explosive controversy, Britain's The Mail on Sunday newspaper revealed yesterday.


Scholars have translated 26 pages of a crumbling ancient text that purports to tell the story of Jesus's last days from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, a man reviled for almost 2000 years.


Sensationally, the manuscript portrays him not as a villain but as a hero and Christ's favoured disciple.


It claims to repeat conversations between the two men and shows that in betraying Christ, Judas was fulfilling a divine mission.


The Mail on Sunday has interviewed experts involved in the project and has established that, according to the gospel, Christ instructed Judas to betray him with the words: "You will become the apostle cursed by all the others. Judas, you will sacrifice this body of man which clothes me."




In another hugely significant section of the manuscript, Jesus tells Judas: "You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the other generation and you will come to rule over them."


The papyrus document dates back to the 4th Century, but is believed to be a translation of a Greek text written in AD 187.


Most Biblical gospels are thought to have been written between 50 and 80 years after Christ's crucifixion.


Some sources have indicated that as well as conversations between Christ and Judas, the gospel also contains another "surprise" which will be revealed when the full contents of the manuscript are unveiled in Washington on April 6.


Some sections of the Church fear it will challenge many of Christianity's most deeply held beliefs. It has already been labelled "dangerous" by one Vatican scholar.


Written in Coptic, the ancient language of the Egyptian Christians, the document was discovered in a tomb in Egypt in the late 1970s.


Since then it has passed through the hands of various antiquities dealers and for 16 years lay disintegrating in a bank vault on Long Island, New York. Tests have shown its authenticity as an ancient text is beyond doubt.


But controversy will focus on the reliability of the account it presents.

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"labelled dangerous". Sounds like fun. :-)


But, I don't know where, possibly one fo those Bible history things on the National Geographic channel. But they were talking about "who was responsible for Jesus' death.

Several people considered that the "betrayal" of Jesus was quite a strange incident. The twelve pieces of silver (or whatever) was a numerologically significant no. And yes, the Bible does use numerology. They implied that there might be more to the tale of Judas than meets the eye, that he might have agreed to do this and so on. This was mainly a discussion of Biblical scholars and they did not bring up the Book of Judas at all.




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  • 4 weeks later...

The Gospel of Judas has been published today!


ISBN: 1426200420


Theologically, this may be fairly significant. I'm looking forward to reading it, and also reading some analysis of it.

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If you haven't visited the NY Times website recently, this is an excellent time to do so. I highly recommend an op-ed column by Elaine Pagels on the Judas Gospel which appeared on April 8th, and an excellent essay by Gary Wills concering Jesus and politics which appears today, April 9th.





flow.... ;)

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Guest wayfarer2k

Some many gospels, so little time. :)


Tee hee, was there anyone in early Christianity that didn't write a gospel?


Next, we'll have "the Gospel according to Peanuts" or "the Cottonpatch Gospel" or some other weird offshoot. :D


When I get time, I'll try to read this just to satiate my curiousity. But it does sound like someone is trying to piggyback this on popularity/controversy of "The DaVinci Code".


Theologically speaking, some would claim that God is sovereign and that everything that happens is his will. I don't hold to that view, but "the gospel of Judas" would certainly appeal to those who strongly believe in God's sovereignty.


Thanks for the heads-up!



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  • 1 month later...

Just bought it a few weeks ago. I've only read a few chapters. Very interesting reading. I little fragmented, but not too bad. Reflects a Gnostic perspective for sure. Regardless of who wrote it, it is very old (perhaps 2nd century). Certainly has some unique perspectives.

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I heard the Judas Gospel described as revisionism. IMO, The Gospel of John is prob. the most revisionistic of Judas as it makes him the most evil of all the gospels.




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  • 2 weeks later...

I know that this thread is a little old.......but it's new to me. :D


Reflects a Gnostic perspective for sure.  Regardless of who wrote it, it is very old (perhaps 2nd century).  Certainly has some unique perspectives.


The text is certainly Sethian. In fact, reading some of the other Sethian books of earlier Jewish context (especially "The Secret Book of John") would go a long way for someone who is new to Gnosticism.


I do like the following quote from Marvin Meyer:


The message of the Gospel of Judas is that, just as Jesus is a spiritual being who has come from above and will return to glory, so also the true followers of Jesus are people of soul, whose being and destiny are with the divine. Already those who know themselves can live in the strength of the inner person, the "perfect human" mentioned by Jesus in his comments to the disciples. At the end of their mortal lives, people who belong to that great generation of Seth will abandon everything of this mortal world, in order to free the inner person and liberate the soul.
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Gnosteric, I would love to hear what attracts you to gnosticism.


Are you attracted to any particular early gnostic (Valentinus? Who?). Go on! Spill it. This seems the thread to do it in. Let's talk emanation. Demiurge. Sophia. Archons. Anything. B)

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Gnosteric, I would love to hear what attracts you to gnosticism.

It’s all about the Gnosis! :D I don’t want to be flip, but your question is far too large for one post. If I were to post several different Gnostic topics (those that would more adequately merge to form the complete answer), then where would they go? Progressive Christianity? Other religions? Hey buddy, go find the Gnostic message boards? <_<


The first topics (in my order) would be: divine spark, original flaw, and awakening.


BTW, feel free to drop the Gnost and call me Eric. :)

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It’s all about the Gnosis!  :D  I don’t want to be flip, but your question is far too large for one post.


Really? No kidding! :P Hehehe.


If I were to post several different Gnostic topics (those that would more adequately merge to form the complete answer), then where would they go?  Progressive Christianity? Other religions? Hey buddy, go find the Gnostic message boards?  <_<


If you want it to be a conversation, I'd put it in the Progressive forum. If you want it to be open for argument (and crankiness :rolleyes: ), put it in the Debate forum. Personally, I don't think it has to go in "Other Traditions" because we are talking Christianity here (even if most would consider it heretical). Monica (the admin) will move it if she feels she needs to.


The first topics (in my order) would be: divine spark, original flaw, and awakening.


Sounds good to me. I've been studying "awakening" all morning with a view to emanation theology. :blink:


BTW, feel free to drop the Gnost and call me Eric.  :)


Hi Eric!

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