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'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD and LAURIE GOODSTEIN (NYT)

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today.

In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, which led to the Crucifixion.

Though some theologians have hypothesized this, scholars who have studied the new-found text said, this is the first time an ancient document defends the idea.

The discovery in the desert of Egypt of the leather-bound papyrus manuscript, and now its translation, was announced by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington. The 26-page Judas text is said to be a copy in Coptic, made around A. D. 300, of the original Gospel of Judas, written in Greek the century before.

Terry Garcia, an executive vice president of the geographic society, said the manuscript, or codex, is considered by scholars and scientists to be the most significant ancient, nonbiblical text to be found in the past 60 years.

"The codex has been authenticated as a genuine work of ancient Christian apocryphal literature," Mr. Garcia said, citing extensive tests of radiocarbon dating, ink analysis and multispectral imaging and studies of the script and linguistic style. The ink, for example, was consistent with ink of that era, and there was no evidence of multiple rewriting.

"This is absolutely typical of ancient Coptic manuscripts," said Stephen Emmel, professor of Coptic studies at the University of Munster in Germany. "I am completely convinced."

The most revealing passages in the Judas manuscript begins, "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

The account goes on to relate that Jesus tells Judas that he will "exceed" the other disciples. "For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me," Jesus said. By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus.

Unlike the accounts in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the anonymous author of the Gospel of Judas believed that Judas Iscariot alone among the 12 disciples understood the meaning of Jesus' teachings and acceded to his will. In the diversity of early Christian thought, a group known as Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.

Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics, said in a statement, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was."

The Gospel of Judas is only one of many texts discovered in the last 65 years, including the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Philip, believed to be written by Gnostics.

The Gnostics' beliefs were often viewed by bishops and early church leaders as unorthodox, and they were frequently denounced as heretics. The discoveries of Gnostic texts have shaken up Biblical scholarship by revealing the diversity of beliefs and practices among early followers of Jesus.

As the findings have trickled down to churches and universities, they have produced a new generation of Christians who now regard the Bible not as the literal word of God, but as a product of historical and political forces that determined which texts should be included in the canon, and which edited out.

For that reason, the discoveries have proved deeply troubling for many believers. The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator.

Scholars say that they have long been on the lookout for the Gospel of Judas because of a reference to what was probably an early version of it in a text called Against Heresies, written by Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, about the year 180.

Irenaeus was a hunter of heretics, and no friend of the Gnostics. He wrote, "They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas."

Karen L. King, a professor of the history of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, and an expert in Gnosticism who has not yet read the manuscript released today, said that the Gospel of Judas may well reflect the kinds of debates that arose in the second and third century among Christians.

"You can see how early Christians could say, if Jesus's death was all part of God's plan, then Judas's betrayal was part of God's plan," said Ms. King, the author of several books on the Gospel of Mary. "So what does that make Judas? Is he the betrayer, or the facilitator of salvation, the guy who makes the crucifixion possible?"

At least one scholar said the new manuscript does not contain anything dramatic that would change or undermine traditional understanding of the Bible. James M. Robinson, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Claremont Graduate University, was the general editor of the English edition of the Nag Hammadi library, a collection of Gnostic documents discovered in Egypt in 1945.

"Correctly understood, there's nothing undermining about the Gospel of Judas," Mr. Robinson said in a telephone interview. He said that the New Testament gospels of John and Mark both contain passages that suggest that Jesus not only picked Judas to betray him, but actually encouraged Judas to hand him over to those he knew would crucify him.

Mr. Robinson's book, "The Secrets of Judas: The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and his Lost Gospel" (Harper San Francisco, April 2006), predicts the contents of the Gospel of Judas based on his knowledge of Gnostic and Coptic texts, even though he was not part of the team of researchers working on the document.

The Egyptian copy of the gospel was written on 13 sheets of papyrus, both front and back, and found in a multitude of brittle fragments.

Rudolphe Kasser, a Swiss scholar of Coptic studies, directed the team that reconstructed and translated the script. The effort, organized by the National Geographic, was supported by Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, in Basel, Switzerland, and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, an American nonprofit organization for the application of technology in historical and scientific projects.

The entire 66-page codex also contains a text titled James (also known as First Apocalypse of James), a letter by Peter and a text of what scholars are provisionally calling Book of Allogenes.

Discovered in the 1970's in a cavern near El Minya, Egypt, the document circulated for years among antiquities dealers in Egypt, then Europe and finally in the United States. It moldered in a safe-deposit box at a bank in Hicksville, N. Y., for 16 years before being bought in 2000 by a Zurich dealer, Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos. The manuscript was given the name Codex Tchacos.

When attempts to resell the codex failed, Ms. Nussberger-Tchacos turned it over to the Maecenas Foundation for conservation and translation.

Mr. Robinson said that an Egyptian antiquities dealer offered to sell him the document in 1983 for $3 million, but that he could not raise the money. He criticized the scholars now associated with the project, some of whom are his former students, because he said they violated an agreement made years ago by Coptic scholars that new discoveries should be made accessible to all qualified scholars.

The manuscript will ultimately be returned to Egypt, where it was discovered, and housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

Ted Waitt, the founder and former chief executive of Gateway, said that his foundation, the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, gave the National Geographic Society a grant of more than $1 million to restore and preserve the manuscript and make it available to the public.

" I didn't know a whole lot until I got into this about the early days of Christianity. It was just extremely fascinating to me," Mr. Waitt said in a telephone interview. He said he had no motivation other than being fascinated by the finding. He said that after the document was carbon dated and the ink tested, procedures his foundation paid for, he had no question about its authenticity. "You can potentially question the translation and the interpretation, he said, but you can't fake something like this. It would be impossible."
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Its funny cause just the other day my cousin called me up and said he had the last peace of toilet paper Jesus ever used along with three used tampons believed to have belonged to the virgin Mary. I offered him 15 euros and a copy of Mel Brooks History of the World part 1, he wanted 25 and a copy of monty pythons life of brian, we settled on 20 euors and a bible that I turned into a flask for booze.

if anyone wants a peace of the last peace of toilet paper ever used by the christ figure I'm up for offers.



(christ I hope the christians are fucking wrong or its eternity in hell fire for my ass)
 

JEMZ

TRIBE Member
If only they had bidets back then all your troubles would be solved.


As for the gospel, I am definitly interested. I have no opinion yet as I am not educated enough to have one yet. I like the shakeup and debate potential, if anything
 

Snuffalupagus

TRIBE Member
I believe Discovery or National Geopraphic is running a 2 hour documentary on this, i think maybe this week. Discoveries of this nature have always fascinated me and I can't wait to get a better look and understanding about this lost gospel. Anything that encourages church reform and modernization is awesome..
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
Alex, got a link to a source for the article?

Although ultimately it's incosequential, biblical history interests me, but this smells similar to the Dan Brown school of revisionist fiction.
 

Snuffalupagus

TRIBE Member
Program Announcement: National Geographic Channel Reveals the Lost Gospel of Judas in a Global Television Event
'The Gospel of Judas' Traces the Incredible Story of One of the Most Important Finds in Biblical Archaeology
WASHINGTON, March 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Discovered by chance in the 1970s, a document that lay hidden for nearly 1,700 years emerges today as the "The Gospel of Judas," which will be first presented during a press conference at the National Geographic Society in early April.

On Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT (encore at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT), the National Geographic Channel (NGC) premieres the first documentary look at the Gospel of Judas. "The Gospel of Judas" is an exclusive, two-hour global event that traces the incredible story of what has happened to the document since it was found, the recent authentication process and analysis, and key insight gleaned from its laborious translation and interpretation. Dramatic recreations portray and clarify the complex story of intrigue and politics of the earliest days of Christianity, and portray the contents of the Gospel itself.

"The Gospel of Judas" presents a newly discovered account of the life of Jesus Christ. But how can its authenticity be verified? When was this gospel written and by whom? The research and documentary will reveal fascinating details contained within the document as well as key sections translated from its ancient Coptic script. It will also examine the modern history of the document since it was found, including the exhaustive restoration and conservation process. The manuscript will be returned to its country of origin, Egypt.

"The Gospel of Judas" is produced by National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F) for the National Geographic Channel. Executive producer is John Bredar. James Barrat is producer and director. For the National Geographic Channel, executive vice president of programming is John Ford.

http://sev.prnewswire.com/television/20060322/DCW02422032006-1.html
 

crazedcanuck

TRIBE Member
All hail the betrayer!!!

I need a new way of avoiding taxes, who wants to form a religion paying homage to Judas, and annoit ourselves high overlords??

Instead of giving shelter to children, we will focus strictly on housing hookers, in temples of worship called bordellos.

Who's with me?
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
stir-fry said:

"In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so. "

In this version?

So then it's not an addition to the NT, but an ancient revision of it. Consideing Christianity was still in its infancy at this stage, it's hard to see how such a revision could have been used for political purposes. Interesting to see it factionalize in such a nuancical way so early on.
 

derek

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
Its funny cause just the other day my cousin called me up and said he had the last peace of toilet paper Jesus ever used along with three used tampons believed to have belonged to the virgin Mary. I offered him 15 euros and a copy of Mel Brooks History of the World part 1, he wanted 25 and a copy of monty pythons life of brian, we settled on 20 euors and a bible that I turned into a flask for booze.

if anyone wants a peace of the last peace of toilet paper ever used by the christ figure I'm up for offers.



(christ I hope the christians are fucking wrong or its eternity in hell fire for my ass)
actually, gnostic beliefs, and any evidence that backs them up scare most christians who take the bible as a literal translation because it questions their beliefs. like when john allegro wrote the sacred mushroom and the cross, or geza vermes's the dead sea scrolls. there are a plethora of gnostic teachings the the new tesatment chooses to ignore and class as heretical. you won't have to worry about burning in hell.
 

derek

TRIBE Member
OTIS said:
"In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so. "

In this version?

So then it's not an addition to the NT, but an ancient revision of it. Consideing Christianity was still in its infancy at this stage, it's hard to see how such a revision could have been used for political purposes. Interesting to see it factionalize in such a nuancical way so early on.

there are many different versions of the gospels. it's even been proposed the all the gospels have a source document simply call 'q'.
 

Bass-Invader

TRIBE Member
OTIS said:
"In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so. "

In this version?

So then it's not an addition to the NT, but an ancient revision of it. Consideing Christianity was still in its infancy at this stage, it's hard to see how such a revision could have been used for political purposes. Interesting to see it factionalize in such a nuancical way so early on.
Many of the disciples wrote their own gospel. Judging from what was written in the article when they say 'version' they mean Judas' gospel. Version is simply applied in regards to this gospel in relation to the other gospels.
I come to this conclusion due to the previous line where it says the "the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas" implying that it is not a revision of anything but simply his own gospel.
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
SO intriguing. It's not that there are many different versions (I mean even Thomas Jefferson had a version where Jesus was an ambassador of democracy) it's that it was occurring so early apparently out of ideological motives rather than top-down political. Although, Muslims did denominate themselves into two distinct ideological camps after only one generation from Muhammed so I guess it's relatively not that odd.
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
Bass-Invader said:
Many of the disciples wrote their own gospel. Judging from what was written in the article when they say 'version' they mean Judas' gospel. Version is simply applied in regards to this gospel in relation to the other gospels.
I come to this conclusion due to the previous line where it says the "the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas" implying that it is not a revision of anything but simply his own gospel.
Gotcha, although it's not an addition to the bible as the article explicitly states that it's non-biblical. This means written after the original gospes were, correct?
 

Bass-Invader

TRIBE Member
OTIS said:
Gotcha, although it's not an addition to the bible as the article explicitly states that it's non-biblical. This means written after the original gospes were, correct?
I think the article means non-biblical in that it was never included in the Bible by the church, not that it was written after the other gospels. There was a stink raised a while back about the gospel of Thomas as well, another gospel which wasn't included in the Bible.
 

derek

TRIBE Member
it's non-biblical because the power structures at the time choose to include specific versions of the gospels & scriptures while excluding others.
 

diablo

TRIBE Member
This actually isn't anywhere near as huge of a discovery as it's being made out to be.

Theologically, it brings nothing new to the table. There are many Gnostic "scriptures" that say pretty much the same thing that this book of Judas says. All of them date back to the second century at the earliest. By the end of the third century (and most likely even earlier), the Gnostic sect had pretty much petered out.

As for the "political" overtones of this thing, it's a bunch of crap. The Biblical canon was established by the early years of the second century. The latest dated books are the Gospel of John, the letters of John, and Revelation (which all date before or up to 93 C.E.). The reason that all of these miscellaneous gospels of Judas/Thomas/Thecla/Stephen/etc weren't included is because it's patently obvious that they weren't written by the people that they claim to be written by. There is no way that any of Jesus' original circle of apostles would've been alive in the middle of the second century. Basically, little sects that broke away from "Biblical" Christianity would all write their own supposed "Scriptures" to support whatever position it was that they were taking against "mainstream" Christians. When defenders of the Biblical canon wrote arguments against these writings, they all eventually disappeared from use (by way of choice or by way of whatever little group was using it eventually disappearing). However, since serious and organized Biblical translation/scholarship/archiving started, anyone who either

a) has a grudge against whichever denomination (usually the Catholic Church)
b) wants to start their own sect
or
c) just wants to piss off Christians

uses these writings as "evidence" of their viewpoint.

I minored in religious studies in university, and this material is discussed thoroughly in many second-year history of Christianity courses.
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
Waittasec? Not a significant discovery? Jesus being complicit with Judas in the manufacturing of his own demise is a pretty distinct departure from orthodox Christianity. Although I hold no illusions about how the scriptures have been augmented and adapted over time to be shadows of their originals, the above is actual evidence to an inconsistency within the bible itself. So if it was written as part of the original series of scriptures? Wouldn't this glaring inconsistency be of some important significance?
 

derek

TRIBE Member
OTIS said:
Waittasec? Not a significant discovery? Jesus being complicit with Judas in the manufacturing of his own demise is a pretty distinct departure from orthodox Christianity. Although I hold no illusions about how the scriptures have been augmented and adapted over time to be shadows of their originals, the above is actual evidence to an inconsistency within the bible itself. So if it was written as part of the original series of scriptures? Wouldn't this glaring inconsistency be of some important significance?

most gnostic & noncanonical writtings are a departure from orthodox christianity,and point to inconsistencies in the new testament. the r.c. went to great lengths throughout the centuries to hide, destroy, and manipulate any text that suggested anything different from their version of events. they bannished and persecuted groups that tried to promote or follow any belief they deemed them heretical from the knights templar to the rosicrucians, although with the knights templar there was also a cash grab the king of france and vaticant also benefited from by disbanding the templar and declaring them heretics; however, their beliefs were mostly gnostic in nature though, and extremely controversial for the times.

theologians for centuries have postulated (based on loose translations of gnostic writings) that jesus and judas were complicit in his capture and crucifixition. it's just this text seems to confirm their postulation somewhat more concretely. so, i suppose in a sense it's not as a major discovery as it's being portrayed. although, to people who are not familiar with gnostic teaching and the dead sea scrolls it may seem so.

finding actual historical evidence that jesus actually existed (or was actually a person) would be a significant discovery. their are some (not dan brown) that don't believe jesus was a person at all, but rather an ancient ritual that was passed down from generation to generation through to the essenes. some time after the essenes the ritual was lost, and the texts were mistranslated turning the ritual into a person.
 

jebac

TRIBE Member
so wait.... jesus and this guy existed?

wtf....

can someone please explain this to me starting at the beginning

-jebac
 
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