The role of Judas and
The Gospel of Judas
Was Judas a traitor or facilitator?
All sides to the controversy
||Elaine Pagels, a major religious author and
professor of religion at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. [The finding] â...is transforming our understanding of early
Christianity. These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic
religion, and demonstrating how diverse and fascinating the early Christian
movement really was.â
The Gospel of Judas was revered by some ancient Gnostic Christian groups. Gnostics were one of the three main movements within early Christianity. Gnostics believe that they have secret knowledge about God, humanity and the
rest of the universe of which the general population is unaware. Like the other
two branches of the early Christian movement -- Jewish Christianity and Pauline
Christianity -- they believed that they alone truly understood Christ's message, and
that other streams of thought within Christianity had misinterpreted Jesus' mission and sayings.
Gnostics were almost wiped out before the end of the 5th century CE by mainline Christianity heresy hunters and the Roman Empire. They have
survived to the present day and are now experiencing a period of rapid growth in
An anonymous follower of one of the Gnostic faith groups wrote the Gospel
of Judas circa 150 CE. Its existence was mentioned in the writings of proto-orthodox
Christian authors where it was condemned as heretical. However, a manus
cript, translated from the original Greek into Coptic, was only discovered in recent years. It was found in the Egyptian desert near El Minya.
The manuscript is now called the Codex Tchacos. It is 66 pages in length and
||The Gospel of Judas,
A text titled "James" also known as the "First Apocalypse of
||A Letter of Peter to Philip, and
A fragment of a fourth text provisionally called the "Book of
The Gospel of Judas is by far the most important component of the Codex. It contains an alternate explanation of the role
that Judas played among
Jesus' disciples. New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, said that
the Gospel teaches that Judas is: "...the good guy. He's the only apostle who understands Jesus.
In this gospel it turns out that Judas does turn Jesus over to the
authorities, but according to this gospel, this is what Jesus wanted."
Some of the early Gnostic faith groups taught that Judas was the most
enlightened of all of Jesus' followers. This is in stark contrast to the
message of the four Gospels that made it into the official canon of the New
Testament. They assert that Judas was a traitor, he betrayed Jesus for 30
pieces of silver, and that his mind was possessed and controlled by Satan.
In a massive coordinated advertising campaign, news of the Gospel of Judas became widespread among the public in early 2006-April. At least three books on
the Gospel were officially released on APR-06 or 07. A National Geographic
Channel TV special was aired on APR-09 and APR-27.
Evangelical Christians, and others who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible will probably have little interest in this gospel.
They may be aware that there were many dozens of gospels circulating within the
early Christian movement of which only four were found to be legitimate, inspired by God and inerrant.
These are the canonical gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. However, they
might be faced with comments about this gospel when evangelizing. It might help
them to be acquainted with its text.
Liberal Christians will probably have a great deal of interest in the gospel.
It demonstrates the wide diversity of beliefs held by the various groups within
the very diverse early Christian movement.
Topics covered in this section:
Books about the Gospel of Judas:
We recommend three books:
A search of the Amazon.com data base returns links for these three books and
others. If you see a generic Amazon ad here, please click on your browser's refresh
Note: Simon Mawer's book "The Gospel of Judas" is a novel and
is not directly related to the actual Gospel of Judas.
Copyright Â© 2006 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First published: 2006-APR-07
Most recent update: 2014-AUG-25
Author: B.A. Robinson