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It is thought to have been composed in the second century by Gnostic Christians, not by Judas, since it contains late-2nd-century theology. The only copy of it known to exist is a Coptic language text that has been carbon dated to ADplus or minus 60 years.
It has been suggested that the text derives from an earlier Greek version. A translation of the text was first published in early by the National Geographic Society.
In contrast to the jhdas gospelswhich paint Judas as a betrayer who delivered Jesus to the authorities for crucifixion in exchange for money, the Gospel of Judas portrays Judas’s actions as done in obedience to instructions given to him by Evangelliet of Nazareth. It does not claim that the other disciples knew about Jesus’s true teachings.
On the contrary, it asserts that they had not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas Evangepiet, the sole follower belonging to the “holy generation” among the disciples. A leather-bound Coptic language papyrus document that surfaced during the s, near Beni Masar, Egypt was named the Codex Tchacos after an antiquities dealer, Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, who became concerned about the deteriorating condition of the manuscript.
First translated in the early s, the codex contains text that appears to be from the late 2nd century,  and includes the self-titled ” Gospel of Judas.
The manuscript was radiocarbon datedand described by the National Geographic as showing a likely date jufas AD Today the manuscript is in over a thousand pieces, with many sections missing due to poor handling and storage.
Some passages are only scattered words; others contain many lines. According evagneliet Coptic scholar Rodolphe Kasserthe codex originally contained 31 pages, with writing on both sides; however, when it came to the market inonly 13 pages remained.
It is speculated that individual pages had been evvangeliet and sold. It has also been speculated, on the basis of textual analysis concerning features of dialect and Greek loan wordsthat the Coptic text contained in the codex may be a translation from an older Greek manuscript dating, at the earliest, to approximately AD — The Gospel of Judas consists of 16 chapters which document Jesus’s teaching about spiritual matters and cosmology.
According to the text, Judas is the only one of Jesus’s disciples who accurately understands the words of his master. This Gospel contains few narrative elements; essentially, the Gospel records how Judas was taught by Jesus the true meaning of his message.
The Gospel contains ideas which contradicted those circulating in the early Christian church. The author says that God is essentially a “luminous cloud of light” who exists in an imperishable realm. At the beginning of time, God created a group of angels and lower gods.
Twelve angels were willed to “come into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld]”. Gradually, humanity began to forget its divine origins and some of Adam’s descendants Cain and Abel became embroiled in the world’s first murder.
Many humans came to think that the imperfect physical universe was the totality of creation, losing their knowledge of God and the imperishable realm. Jesus was sent as the Son of the true God, not of one of the lesser gods. His mission was to show that salvation lies in connecting with the God within the man. Through embracing the internal God, the man can then return to the imperishable realm. Eleven of the disciples Jesus chose to spread his message misunderstood the central tenets of his teaching.
They were obsessed with the physical world of the senses. The author says that they continued to practise religious animal sacrifice, which pleased the lower gods but did not help to foster a connection with the true God.
They wrongly taught that those martyred in the name of Christ would be bodily resurrected. In contrast, Jesus is able to teach Judas the true meaning of his life, ministry and death. Mankind can be divided into two races, or groups. Those who are furnished with the immortal soullike Judas, can come to know the God within and enter the imperishable realm when they die. Those who belong to the same generation of the other eleven disciples cannot enter the realm of God and will die both spiritually and physically at the end of their lives.
As practices that are intertwined with the physical world, animal sacrifice and a communion ceremony centered around “cannibalism” the consumption of Jesus’ flesh and blood are condemned as abhorrent. The other Gospels say that Jesus had to die in order to atone for the sins of humanity.
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The author of Judas expresses the view that this sort of substitutionary justice jhdas the lower gods and angels. The true God is gracious and evajgeliet does not demand any sacrifice. She said that the Gospel of Judas contains no new historical information concerning Jesus or Judas. Historians Elaine Pagels and Karen Leigh King argue that a more nuanced, contextualized understanding of alternative interpretations of the Christian tradition should inform discussions of Gnosticism.
In the centuries following Jesus’s death, many differing views of the meaning of his life and death existed. Before the discovery evageliet so-called Gnostic texts such as the Nag Hammadi libraryscholars had to rely solely on the reports of proto-Nicene church fathers for their understanding of jueas approaches to understanding Christianity. These reports were necessarily biased since they were written by people opposed to non-Nicene churches. Far from arguing that the physical body is a prison which needs to be escaped from, the Gospel of Judas portrays Jesus as able to leave his body at will and take on other forms, appearing to be a child.
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In the text, Jesus is shown leaving his evangelieg, journeying to the imperishable realm and returning to his body. Unlike other non-Nicene Gospels, the Gospel of Judas is Sethian in orientation in that Adam’s son Seth is seen as a spiritual ancestor. As in other Sethian documents, Jesus is equated with Seth: The initial translation of evngeliet Gospel of Judas was widely publicized but simply confirmed the account that was written in Irenaeus and known Gnostic beliefs, leading some scholars to simply summarize the discovery as nothing new.
However, it is argued jduas a closer reading of the existent text, as presented in Octobershows Christianity in a new light. According to Elaine Pagels, for instance, Judas is portrayed as having a mission to hand Jesus over to the soldiers. She says that Bible translators have mistranslated the Greek word for “handing over” to “betrayal”. Like many Gnostic works, evangelift Gospel of Judas refers to itself as a secret evangelliet, specifically “The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot The Gospel of Judas states that Jesus told Judas “You shall be cursed for generations” and then added, “You will come to rule over them” and “You will exceed all of them, for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.
Unlike the four canonical gospels, which employ narrative accounts of the last year of Jesus’s life in the case of Johnthree years and of his birth in the case of Luke and Matthewthe Judas gospel takes the form of dialogues between Jesus and Judas, and Jesus and the twelve disciples, without being embedded in any narrative.
Such “dialogue gospels” were popular during the early decades of Christianity and the New Testament apocrypha contains several examples, such as the Gospel of Mary. Like the canonical gospels, the Gospel of Judas evangelift the scribes as approaching Judas with the intention of arresting him, and Judas receiving money from them after handing Jesus over to them.
But unlike Judas in the canonical gospels, who is portrayed as a villain, and excoriated by Jesus “Alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born,” trans. The New English Bible Mark Elsewhere in the manuscript, Jesus favours Judas above other disciples by saying, efangeliet away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom,” and jduas, you have been told everything.
Lift up your eyes jidas look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star. The content of the gospel had been unknown until a Coptic Gospel of Judas turned up on the antiquities ” grey market ,” in Geneva in Mayjuvas it was found among a mixed group of Greek and Coptic manuscripts offered to Stephen Emmela Yale Ph. How this manuscript, Codex Tchacos evangelirt, was found, maybe in the late s, has not been clearly documented.
However, it is believed that a now-deceased Egyptian “treasure-hunter” or prospector discovered the codex near El MinyaEgyptin the neighbourhood of the village Beni Masar, and sold it to one Hanna, a dealer in antiquities resident in Cairo.
In the s, the manuscript and most of the dealer’s other artifacts were stolen by a Greek trader named Nikolas Koutoulakis, and smuggled into Geneva.
During the following two decades the manuscript was quietly offered to prospective buyers, but no major library or Egypt felt ready to purchase a manuscript that had such questionable provenance. In Michel van Rijn started to publish material about these dubious negotiations, and eventually the page leather-bound codex was donated to the Maecenas Foundation in Basel. The previous owners now reported that it had been uncovered at Muhafazat al Minya in Egypt during the s or s, and that its significance had not been appreciated until recently.
It is worth noting that various other locations had been alleged during previous negotiations. The existence of the text was made public by former professor at the University of Geneva Rodolphe Kasser at a conference of Coptic specialists in Paris, July In a statement issued March 30,a spokesman for the Maecenas Foundation announced plans for edited translations into EnglishFrenchGermanand Polish once the fragile papyrus had undergone conservation by a team of specialists in Coptic history to be led by Kasser, and that their work would be published in about a year.
Tim Jull, director of the National Science Foundation Arizona AMS laboratory, and Gregory Hodgins, assistant research scientist, announced that a radiocarbon dating procedure had dated five samples from the papyrus manuscript from to in January at the University of Arizona.
In JanuaryGene A. Ware of the Papyrological Imaging Lab of Brigham Young University conducted a multi-spectral imaging process on the texts in Switzerland, and confirmed their authenticity. Over the decades, the manuscript had been handled with less than sympathetic care: The work belongs there and they will be conserved in the best way,” Roberty has stated. In Aprilan Ohio bankruptcy lawyer said that he possesses several small, brown bits of papyrus from the Gospel of Judas, but he refuses to have the fragments authenticated and his report is being viewed with skepticism by experts.
InThe National Geographic Society published the “Critical Edition” of the manuscript, as a book which includes images of all the fragments, the reconstructed Coptic text, and English and French translations. Kasser revealed a few details about the text inthe Dutch paper Het Parool reported. The codex has four parts:. A scientific paper was to be published inbut was delayed. The completion of the restoration and translation was announced by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington, D.
Terry Garcia, an executive vice president for Mission Programs of the National Geographic Society, asserted that the codex is considered by scholars and scientists to be the most significant ancient, non-biblical text to be found since the s.
Robinsongeneral editor of the Nag Hammadi Library, predicted that the new book would offer no historical insights into the disciple who betrayed Jesus, since the 2nd-century manuscript seems to derive from an older document. Robinson suggested that the text will provide insights into the religious situation during the 2nd century rather than into the biblical narrative itself.
One scholar on the National Geographic project believes the document shows that Judas was “fooled” into believing he was helping Jesus.
Another scholar, April D. DeConicka professor of Biblical studies at Rice Universityopines in an op-ed in The New York Times that the National Geographic translation was critically faulty in many substantial respects, and that based on a corrected translation, Judas was actually a demon, truly betraying Jesus, rather than following his orders. What the Gospel of Judas Really Says to assert that Judas was not a daimon in the Greek sense, but that “the universally accepted word for ‘spirit’ is ‘pneuma’ — in Gnostic literature ‘daimon’ is always taken to mean ‘demon'”.
DeConick raises about translation choices are addressed in footnotes in both the popular and critical editions”. Scholars are divided on the interpretation of the text. The first modern publication of the gospel contended that the text portrays Judas in a positive light,  while other scholars have asserted that Judas is presented negatively.
There may be additional fragments of the gospel yet to be released. In his Easter address, Rowan Williamsthe Archbishop of Canterburystrongly denied the historical credibility of the gospel, saying.
This is a demonstrably late text which simply parallels a large number of quite well-known works from the more eccentric fringes of the early century Church. He went on to suggest that the book’s publicity derives from a desire for conspiracy theories.
The president of the Maecenas FoundationMario Roberty, suggested the possibility that the Maecenas Foundation had acquired not the only extant copy of the Gospel, but rather the only known copy.