Judas was Jesus’s most trusted advisor and only betrayed him at Jesus’s request? That’s the claim in the gospel that the National Geographic Society recently revealed.
To most Christians, Judas is seen as a traitor, the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver. But a newly restored papyrus document dating to the 2nd century AD portrays a very different man. Judas is shown as Jesus’ best friend, asked by Jesus himself to betray his identity to fulfill the prophecy and liberate his soul to ascend to heaven.
The leather-bound papyrus codex, believed to have been translated from the original ancient Greek to the Coptic language around 300 AD, was found in the 1970s in a cave in the desert near El Minya, Egypt. It then circulated among antiquities traders, moving from Egypt to Europe to the United States. The codex languished in a safe deposit box on Long Island, N.Y., for 16 years before being bought in 2000 by Zurich-based antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos.
When attempts to resell the manuscript fell through, Tchacos — alarmed by the codexÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s rapidly deteriorating state — transferred it to the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Basel, Switzerland, in February 2001 for conservation and translation.
Rodolphe Kasser, one of the worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s leading Coptic scholars, was recruited to reconstruct the manuscript and to transcribe and translate the text. The 66-page manuscript contains not only the Gospel of Judas but also a text titled James (also known as First Apocalypse of James), a letter of Peter to Philip and a fragment of a fourth text scholars for now are calling the Book of Allogenes.
More from the NY Times:
In this text, scholars reported yesterday, the account of events leading to the Crucifixion differs sharply from the four gospels in the New Testament. Here Jesus is said to entrust Judas with special knowledge and ask him to betray him to the Roman authorities. By doing so, he tells Judas, “you will exceed” the other disciples.
“You will be cursed by the other generations, and you will come to rule over them,” Jesus confides to Judas in the document, which was made public at a news conference at the National Geographic Society in Washington.
And yes, the manuscript is said to be genuine. The scholars agree on that. The content? Well, that’s another story. My gut tells me that this will ultimately be dismissed because it doesn’t fit into the story most Christians and Christian scholars know and love.
But what if?