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The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 


The Lost Gospel uf Judas 

from NationalGeographic Website 

An ancient Coptic manuscript dating from the third or fourth century, containing the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas, has been 
restored and authenticated after being lost for nearly 1,700 years. 

In order to be certain of its age and authenticity, the National Geographic Society put the codex through the closest scrutiny possible without doing it 
harm. This included submitting minute samples of the papyrus to a rigorous radiocarbon-dating process, analyzing the ink, submitting the manuscript | 
to multispectral imaging, and consulting with leading scholars well-versed in the fields of paleography and codicology. 

"me National Geographic Society collaborated with the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery. 

Rodolphe Kasser, of Switzerland, one of the world's preeminent Coptic scholars, was recruited to restore the text, transcribe it, and translate the 
manuscript, which contains not only the Gospel of Judas, but also a text called James, the Letter of Peter to Philip, and a fragment of a text that 
scholars are provisionally calling Book of Allogenes. 

During the first centuries A.D., in a constantly shifting political environment church leaders shaped the New Testament around four chosen Gospels. 
But divergent beliefs jostled for prominence in Christian thought. In recent decades long-lost chronicles have been found, originally hidden during 
those turbulent times. 

Such manuscripts describe a world of ideas that has been lost to us for nearly 1,700 years. 

^ Roman Empire 


El Minya - 

Nag'Hammadi . 

250 mi 0 I 1 250 km 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a codex, and why is this document called the Codex Tchacos? 

A codex is an ancient book consisting of folded pages, bound at one side. Codices were the preferred form for scriptural or classical 
texts, as they could contain a lot more information than scrolls and were easier to manage. Codex Tchacos is named after Dimaratos 
Tchacos, father of Zurich-based antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos , who bought the document in September 2000. 

What does the Codex Tchacos contain? 

The codex contains not only the Gospel of Judas, but also a text titled James (otherwise known as the First Apocalypse of James), the 
Letter of Peter to Philip, and a fragment of a text that scholars are provisionally calling Book of Allogenes. 

Where was the Codex Tchacos discovered? 

"me codex, containing the Gospel of Judas, was discovered in the 1970s near El Minya, Egypt, and moved from Egypt to Europe to the 
United States. Once in the United States, it was kept in a safe-deposit box for 16 years on Long Island, New York, until antiquities 
dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos bought it in April 2000. 

After two unsuccessful resale attempts, Nussberger-Tchacos— alarmed by the codex's rapidly deteriorating state— transferred it to the 
Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Basel, Switzerland, in February 2001, for restoration and translation, "me manuscript will be 
delivered to Egypt and housed in Cairo's Coptic Museum. 


The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 


How did the codex containing the Gospel of Judas survive for so many centuries? 

Because the Gospel of Judas was hidden in the Egyptian desert for more than 1,600 years, the papyrus remained intact. However, the 
document severely deteriorated when it was kept in a safe-deposit box on Long Island, New York, for 16 years. 

As a result, the conservation process to rescue and preset the manuscript has been an enormous undertaking, as Rodolphe Kasser 
and his team worked to piece the document back together by reassembling nearly a thousand broken fragments of papyrus. 

What is the history of the codex containing the Gospel of Judas? 

The National Geographic Society has worked with a team of international experts to analyze a collection of ancient papyrus 
documents, which include the Gospel of Judas , first discovered more than 30 years ago in Egypt. The rare religious texts in the codex 
are written in the ancient Egyptian Coptic language and are about 1,700 years old. 

National Geographic collaborated with the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, and 
scientific experts, historians, and theologians from around the world to authenticate, reconstruct, conserve, and translate these 
extraordinary documents, and explore their significance. 

Was the Gospel of Judas known to scholars? 

Scholars knew of the existence of the Gospel of Judas because of references in other ancient texts, "me oldest known reference to a 
Gospel of Judas is by Irenaeus , Bishop of Lyon, in A.D. 180. However, this codex containing the Gospel of Judas was not discovered 
until the 1970s in Egypt, and it wasn't until 2001 that a team led by Professor Rodolphe Kasser of Switzerland, a world-renowned 
Coptic scholar, began to translate and consent the ancient text. 

Who wrote the Gospel of Judas? 

"me author of the Gospel of Judas remains anonymous, "me original Greek text of the gospel, of which this is a Coptic translation, is 
thought to have been written by a group of early gnostic Christians sometime between when the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, 
Mark, Luke, and John were penned and A.D. 180. 

Why were these early texts developed? What was their purpose? 

Different groups of Christians in the second century appealed to different writings to authenticate their distinctly beliefs and practices. 
Numerous gospels appeared, often written in the names of the Apostles; these pseudonymous writings were reared as scripture by 
one group or another, although eventually most of them came to be labeled as "heretical" and proscribed by orthodox Christianity in 
later times. 

What does the publication of this text mean for Christian teachings? 

"mis is a dramatic archaeological discovery of cultural interest, which offers an alternate portrayal from the first or second century of the 
relationship between Jesus and Judas, and enhances our knowledge of history and preservation of theological viewpoints from that 
period. National Geographic realizes that the information provided by this document is complex and deserves a great deal of further 
study and assessment, a process that will take time. 

How did National Geographic get involved in the project? 

"me document changed hands a number of times following its discovery. The Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Switzerland 
approached National Geographic to play a key role in the authentication and conservation of the codex. National Geographic gathered 
numerous experts to bring the project to completion. After conservation is complete and the codex has been exhibited to the public, the 
codex will be given to Egypt, where it will be housed in Cairo's Coptic Museum. 

Why has National Geographic decided to get involved in a project of this type? 

"me codex that contains the Gospel of Judas is the most significant discovery of ancient, non-biblical Christian or Jewish texts of the 
last 60 years. Because of National Geographic's commitment to discovery and conservation of artifacts that support the study of 
ancient culture and enhance historical knowledge, the Society felt compelled to take part in the rescue of this ancient document. 

Why did it take so long to publish? 

Because the manuscript had deteriorated so badly during the past 30 years, restoring, conserving, and translating its text has been an 
enormous undertaking. Compared with the length of time it took to conserve, translate and publish the Nag Hammadi manuscripts 
(about 25 years) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (about 50 years), the publication process of the Gospel of Judas, which has taken just five 
years, has been quite an expedited one. 

What was the translation process and who was involved? 

"me Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art recruited Professor Rodolphe Kasser of Switzerland, one of the world's leading Coptic 
scholars, to lead an international team of scholars, translators, scientists, archaeologists, and historians to translate the document. 

How was the artifact, known as the Gospel of Judas, restored? 

"mis was a daunting process, because the document's condition had deteriorated significantly over the last two decades. Kasser 
enlisted the help of papyrus conservator Florence Darbre of Switzerland and Coptic scholar Gregor Wurst of the University of Augsburg, 


The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 

Germany, to piece together the 26-page Gospel of Judas. 

With the help of computer programs that record text, register gaps and try to match gaps to text, and with careful, visual inspection of 
suggested matches to confirm papyrus fiber continuity, Darbre, Wurst, and Kasser have been able to reassemble more than 80 percent 
of the text in five painstaking years. 


How was authenticate the document? 

The codex has been authenticated as a genuine work of ancient Christian apocryphal literature on five fronts: radiocarbon dating, ink 
analysis, multispectral imaging, contextual evidence, and paleographic evidence. 

The Gospel of Judas 

Translated by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst 

in collaboration with Francois Gaudard 
extracted from "The Gospel of Judas 
Edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst 

The National Geographic Society has been part of an international effort, in collaboration with the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient 
Art and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, to authenticate, conserve, and translate a 66-page codex, which contains a text 
called James (also known as First Apocalypse of James), the Letter of Peter to Philip, a fragment of a text that scholars are 
provisionally calling Book of Allogenes, and the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas. 

The Gospel of Judas gives a different view of the relationship between Jesus and Judas, offering new insights into the disciple who 
betrayed Jesus. Unlike the accounts in the canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in which Judas is portrayed as a 
reviled traitor, this newly discovered Gospel portrays Judas as acting at Jesus' request when he hands Jesus over to the authorities. 


The secret account of the reflation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover. 

When Jesus appeared on earth, he performed miracles and great wonders for the salvation of humanity. And since some [walked] in the way of 
righteousness while others walked in their transgressions, the twelve disciples were called. 

He began to speak with them about the mysteries beyond the world and what would take place at the end. Often he did not appear to his disciples as | 
himself, but he was found among them as a child. 

SCENE 1 : 

Jesus dialogues with his disciples: The prayer of thanksgiving or the eucharist. One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them 
gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he [approached] his disciples, [34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of 
thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed. 

The disciples said to [him], 

"Master, why are you laughing at [our] prayer of thanksgiving? We have done what is right." 
He answered and said to them, 

"I am not laughing at you. <You> are not doing this because of your own will but because it is through this that your god [will be] 

They said, "Master, you are [. . .] the son of our god." 

Jesus said to them, "How do you know me? Truly [I] say to you, no generation of the people that are among you will know me." 


When his disciples heard this, they started getting angry and infuriated and began blaspheming against him in their hearts. 

When Jesus observed their lack of [understanding, he said] to them, 

"Why has this agitation led you to anger? Your god who is within you and [. . .] [35] have provoked you to anger [within] your souls. [Let] 
any one of you who is [strong enough] among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face." 

They all said, "We have the strength." 

But their spirits did not dare to stand before [him], except for Judas Iscariot . He was able to stand before him, but he could not look him in the eyes, 
and he turned his face away. 


The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 


Judas [said] to him, 

"I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name 
of the one who has sent you." 


Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him, 

"Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great 
deal. [36] For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve [disciples] may again come to completion with their god." 

Judas said to him, "When will you tell me these things, and [when] will the great day of light dawn for the generation?" 

But when he said this, Jesus left him. 

SCENE 2 : 

Jesus appears to the disciples again. The next morning, after this happened, Jesus [appeared] to his disciples again. 
"TTiey said to him, 

"Master, where did you go and what did you do when you left us?" 

Jesus said to them, "I went to another great and holy generation." 

His disciples said to him, "Lord, what is the great generation that is superior to us and holier than us, that is not now in these realms?" 

When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to them, 

"Why are you thinking in your hearts about the strong and holy generation? [37] Truly [I] say to you, no one bom [of] this aeon will see 
that [generation], and no host of angels of the stars will rule over that generation, and no person of mortal birth can associate with it, 
because that generation does not come from [. . .] which has become [...]. "me generation of people among [you] is from the generation 
of humanity [. . .] power, which [. . . the] other powers [. . .] by [which] you rule." 

When [his] disciples heard this, they each were troubled in spirit. They could not say a word. 

Another day Jesus came up to [them]. They said to [him], 

"Master, we have seen you in a [vision], for we have had great [dreams . . .] night [...]." 

[He said], "Why have [you . . . when] <you> have gone into hiding?" [38] 


Ihey [said, "We have seen] a great [house with a large] altar [in it, and] twelve men — they are the priests, we would say — and a name; 
and a crowd of people is waiting at that altar, [until] the priests [. . . and receive] the offerings. [But] we kept waiting." 

[Jesus said], "What are [the priests] like?" 

Ihey [said, "Some ...] two weeks; [some] sacrifice their own children, others their wives, in praise [and] humility with each other; some 
sleep with men; some are involved in [slaughter]; some commit a multitude of sins and deeds of lawlessness. And the men who stand 
[before] the altar invoke your [name], [39] and in all the deeds of their deficiency, the sacrifices are brought to completion [. . .]." 

After they said this, they were quiet, for they were troubled. 


Jesus said to them, 

"Why are you troubled? Truly I say to you, all the priests who stand before that altar invoke my name. Again I say to you, my name has 
been written on this [. . .] of the generations of the stars through the human generations. [And they] have planted trees without fruit, in 
my name, in a shameful manner." 

Jesus said to them, 

"Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar-^hat is who you are. That is the god you serve, and you are those twelve men 
you have seen. The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray [40] before that altar. [. . .] will stand 
and make use of my name in this way, and generations of the pious will remain loyal to him. 

After him another man will stand there from [the fornicators], and another [will] stand there from the slayers of children, and another 
from those who sleep with men, and those who abstain, and the rest of the people of pollution and lawlessness and error, and those 
who say, 'We are like angels'; they are the stars that bring everything to its conclusion. For to the human generations it has been said, 
'Look, God has received your sacrifice from the hands of a priest'— that is, a minister of error. But it is the Lord, the Lord of the 
universe, who commands, 'On the last day they will be put to shame.'" [41] 


The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 


Jesus said [to them], 

"Stop sac[rificing . . .] which you have [. . .] o\^r the altar, since they are o\^r your stars and your angels and have already come to their 
conclusion there. So let them be [ensnared] before you, and let them go [ — about 15 lines missing — ] generations [. . .]. A baker cannot 
feed all creation [42] under [hea\^n]. And [. . .] to them [. . .] and [. . .] to us and [...]. 

Jesus said to them, 

"Stop struggling with me. Each of you has his own star, and e\oy[body — about 17 lines missing — ] [43] in [. . .] who has come [. . . 
spring] for the tree [. . .] of this aeon [. . .] for a time [. . .] but he has come to water God's paradise, and the [generation] that will last, 
because [he] will not defile the [walk of life of] that generation, but [. . .] for all eternity." 


Judas said to [him, "Rabb]i, what kind of fruit does this generation produce?" 
Jesus said, 

"The souls of e\ey human generation will die. When these people, howe\^r, have completed the time of the kingdom and the spirit 
lea\^s them, their bodies will die but their souls will be a\\ve, and they will be taken up." 

Judas said, "And what will the rest of the human generations do?" 
Jesus said, 

"It is impossible [44] to sow seed on [rock] and harvest its fruit. [This] is also the way [. . .] the [defiled] generation [. . .] and corruptible 
Sophia [. . .] the hand that has created mortal people, so that their souls go up to the eternal realms above. [Truly] I say to you, [. . .] 
angel [. . .] power will be able to see that [. . .] these to whom [. . .] holy generations [. . .]." 

After Jesus said this, he departed. 
SCENE 3 : 

Judas recounts a vision and Jesus responds. 
Judas said, 

"Master, as you have listened to all of them, now also listen to me. For I have seen a great vision." 
When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to him, 

'You thirteenth spirit, why do you try so hard? But speak up, and I shall bear with you." 

Judas said to him, "In the vision I saw myself as the twelve disciples were stoning me and [45] persecuting [me se\e-ely]. And I also 
came to the place where [. . .] after you. I saw [a house . . .], and my eyes could not [comprehend] its size. Great people were 
surrounding it, and that house <had> a roof of greenery, and in the middle of the house was [a crowd — two lines missing — ], saying, 
'Master, take me in along with these people.'" 

[Jesus] answered and said, 

"Judas, your star has led you astray." 

He continued, "No person of mortal birth is worthy to enter the house you have seen, for that place is reser\^d for the holy. Neither the 
sun nor the moon will rule there, nor the day, but the holy will abide there always, in the eternal realm with the holy angels. Look, I have 
explained to you the mysteries of the kingdom [46] and I have taught you about the error of the stars; and [. . .] send it [. . .] on the twelve 


Judas said, 

"Master, could it be that my seed is under the control of the rulers?" 

Jesus answered and said to him, "Come, that I [—two lines missing—], but that you will grieve much when you see the kingdom and all 
its generation." 

When he heard this, Judas said to him, 

"What good is it that I have recei\ed it? For you have set me apart for that generation." 

Jesus answered and said, 'You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the other generations— and you will come to rule 
o\^r them. In the last days they will curse your ascent [47] to the holy [generation]." 


Jesus said, 


The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 


"[Come], that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] e\e"seen. For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent 
no generation of angels has seen, [in which] there is [a] great invisible [Spirit], which no eye of an angel has ever seen, no thought of 
the heart has ever comprehended, and it was never called by any name. 

"And a luminous cloud appeared there. He said, 'Let an angel come into being as my attendant.' 

"A great angel, the enlightened divine Self-Generated, emerged from the cloud. Because of him, four other angels came into being from 
another cloud, and they became attendants for the angelic Self-Generated. The Self-Generated said, [48] 'Let [. . .] come into being [. . .],' 
and it came into being [. . .]. And he [created] the first luminary to reign o\^r him. He said, 'Let angels come into being to serve [him],' 
and myriads without number came into being. 

He said, '[Let] an enlightened aeon come into being,' and he came into being. He created the second luminary [to] reign o\^r him, 
together with myriads of angels without number, to offer service. That is how he created the rest of the enlightened aeons. He made 
them reign o\^r them, and he created for them myriads of angels without number, to assist them. 


"Adamas was in the first luminous cloud that no angel has e\^r seen among all those called 'God.' He [49] [. . .] that [. . .] the image [. . .] 
and after the likeness of [this] angel. He made the incorruptible [generation] of Seth appear [. . .] the twelve [. . .] the twenty-four [...]. He 
made se\eity-two luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit. The se\eity-two luminaries 
themsel\£s made three hundred sixty luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit, that 
their number should be fi\£ for each. 

"Trie twelve aeons of the twelve luminaries constitute their father, with six hea\^ns for each aeon, so that there are se\^nty-two hea\^ns 
for the se\^nty-two luminaries, and for each [50] [of them fi\^] firmaments, [for a total of] three hundred sixty [firmaments ...]. They were 
gi\ei authority and a [great] host of angels [without number], for glory and adoration, [and after that also] virgin spirits, for glory and 
[adoration] of all the aeons and the hea\eis and their firmaments. 


"Trie multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos — that is, perdition — by the Father and the se\eity-two luminaries who are with 
the Self-Generated and his se\^nty-two aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon that 
appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the angel, is called [51] El. [. . .] aeon [. . .] after that [. . .] 
said, 'Let twelve angels come into being [to] rule o\^r chaos and the [underworld].' 

And look, from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His 
name was Nebro, which means 'rebel'; others call him Yaldabaoth . Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro 
created six angels— as well as Saklas— to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the hea\^ns, with each one receiving a 
portion in the hea\^ns. 


"Trie twelve rulers spoke with the twelve angels: 

'Let each of you [52] [. . .] and let them [. . .] generation [ — one line lost—] angels': 

Trie first is [S]eth, who is called Christ. 

Trie [second] is Harmathoth, who is [...]. 

Trie [third] is Galila. 

Trie fourth is Yobel. 

Trie fifth [is] Adonaios. 

These are the five who ruled over the underworld, and first of all over chaos. 


"Then Saklas said to his angels, 'Let us create a human being after the likeness and after the image.' They fashioned Adam and his 
wife Eve, who is called, in the cloud, Zoe. For by this name all the generations seek the man, and each of them calls the woman by 
these names. Now, Sakla did not [53] com[mand . . .] except [. . .] the generations . . .] this [...]. And the [ruler] said to Adam, 'You shall 
live long, with your children.'" 


Judas said to Jesus, 

"[What] is the long duration of time that the human being will live?" Jesus said, "Why are you wondering about this, that Adam, with his 
generation, has lived his span of life in the place where he has received his kingdom, with longevity with his ruler?" 

Judas said to Jesus, "Does the human spirit die?" 

Jesus said, "This is why God ordered Michael to give the spirits of people to them as a loan, so that they might offer service, but the 
Great One ordered Gabriel to grant spirits to the great generation with no ruler o\^r it— that is, the spirit and the soul. Therefore, the 
[rest] of the souls [54] [ — one line missing — ]. 


The Lost Gospel of Judas - From the Codex Tchacos 



"[. . .] light [ — nearly two lines missing—] around [. . .] let [. . .] spirit [that is] within you dwell in this [flesh] among the generations of 
angels. But God caused knowledge to be [gi\^n] to Adam and those with him, so that the kings of chaos and the underworld might not 
lord it o\e-them." 

Judas said to Jesus, 

"So what will those generations do?" 

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, for all of them the stars bring matters to completion. When Saklas completes the span of time assigned 
for him, their first star will appear with the generations, and they will finish what they said they would do. Then they will fornicate in my 
name and slay their children [55] and they will [. . .] and [—about six and a half lines missing—] my name, and he will [. . .] your star o\^r 
the [thirteenth aeon." 

After that Jesus [laughed]. 

[Judas said], "Master, [why are you laughing at us]?" 

[Jesus] answered [and said], "I am not laughing [at you] but at the error of the stars, because these six stars wander about with these 
fi\^ combatants, and they all will be destroyed along with their creatures." 


Judas said to Jesus, 

"Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?" Jesus said, "Truly I say [to you], this baptism [56] [. . .] my name [ — 
about nine lines missing—] to me. Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas [...] God [—three lines missing—] 
e\oything that is ev\\. 

"But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me. Already your horn has been raised, your wrath has 
been kindled, your star has shown brightly, and your heart has [. . .]. [57] 

"Truly [. . .] your last [. . .] become [ — about two and a half lines missing — ], grieve [ — about two lines missing — ] the ruler, since he will 
be destroyed. And then the image of the great generation of Adam will be exalted, for prior to hea\^n, earth, and the angels, that 
generation, which is from the eternal realms, exists. Look, you have been told e\eything. Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and 
the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star." 

Judas lifted up his eyes and saw the luminous cloud, and he entered it. Those standing on the ground heard a \dce coming from the 
cloud, saying, [58] [...] great generation [...] ... image [...] [—about fi\^ lines missing—]. 


[. . .] Their high priests murmured because [he] had gone into the guest room for his prayer. But some scribes were there watching 
carefully in order to arrest him during the prayer, for they were afraid of the people, since he was regarded by all as a prophet. They 
approached Judas and said to him, "What are you doing here? You are Jesus' disciple." 

Judas answered them as they wished. 

And he recei\^d some money and handed him o\^r to them. 



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