Gospel of Judas Iscariot

Has anyone read the National Geographic Society’s take on the text of the Gospel of Judas Iscariot? I ran across something about it on Facebook. Supposedly Nat Geo says that Judas wasn’t a traitor after all.
I lost the post on FB about it but it did say something about the translation being wrong. Can anyone debunk Nat Geo?

Gospel of Judas is not inspired, thus not reliable.

It has nothing to do with the real Judas. It was written centuries after his death.


Ok, it’s one of those wacky Gnostic gospels.


What it says is there was secret knowledge between Judas Iscariot and Jesus. It was a pact of sorts to make sure the sacrifice was made.

You have to realize that based on the theology, the anachronisms and the way certain words are used, it clearly comes from the late 300’s, well after the death of John, so no way it’s inspired.

The object is to promote the secret agenda of the Gnostic. According to the secret knowledge of these first heretics, Judas was not culpable for betraying Christ, they were in cahoots. This fiction served two purposes, eliminate culpability for sin because if God needs us to sin to effect His Will who are we to argue and we are all saved by faith anyway. (Sound Familiar?)

Who were the Gnostics?

Plus … if Jesus and Judas really did have a pact, then Jesus would have been manipulating events to make it see like He fulfilled the prophecies.

A Christ denier would say, “see, he was just crazy.”

This forgery could have been created for a number of reasons, and by a number of different people for a number of evil intentions.

Why would you want to “debunk” National Geographic?
*They *didn’t write the Gospel of Judas; they are allowed to have an opinion on the subject–especially because this early gospel does indeed exist and they are not basing the idea on nothing.
Judas played an important part in this whole crucify-risen-salvation story.
The Apostle who “denied” Jesus three times…and the ones who ran away when he was captured…also betrayed him. Judas doesn’t seem to be the only one here.

The earliest copy we have is believed to be from the year 280…scholars say it was composed in the 2nd century.

Just because it might be written after the death of John, it can still be “inspired”.

The gnostic christians were one of many early and varied sects of Christianity that emerged in the first few centuries.
The early Christians had many varied beliefs about Jesus and Judas and God. This is just one of many.
They were not considered “heretical” at the time, just as the other groups were not…until the canon books were decided upon and then, everything else was suddenly “heretical” and condemned at the end of the 4th Century.

And yet…the Gnostic books in the Nag Hammadi library found in 1945 are thought to have belonged to a nearby monastery, carefully and mindfully buried for posterity.
I can just see those monks…digging…trying to preserve the scripture they held dear and holy.

What do you mean their “secret agenda”?
Seems they were very out in the open about their scriptures and beliefs, just as the other groups were.


No, it can’t be. Public Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. If the Epistles written by Ignatius of Antioch (who was a student of the Apostles) and Pope Clement are not inspired, then how could this be?

Furthermore, one of the important criteria to identify what was inspired scripture was if it was being used at Mass. It also had to be from the time of the Apostles. Being written in the 2nd or 3rd century (280 AD is in the 3rd century) and not read at Mass eliminated it from being a possibility.

They taught that there was secret information from God about salvation which was hidden from the Laity one God’s command, and that their clerics/mystics/whatever possessed that secret information.

They also taught that the soul was good and the body was evil.

Now here’s an interesting topic. I’ll get back to you later when I have the time.

The manuscript (Codex Tchacos) is thought to date from the late 3rd to the early 4th century. Some scholars think the text dates from before AD 180 because Irenaeus already mentions a ‘Gospel of Judas’. However, you need to keep in mind that some Christian literature could have similar titles (for example, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the ‘gnostic’ Gospel of Thomas), so it’s not entirely sure whether Irenaeus’ ‘Gospel of Judas’ is the exact same work as our Gospel of Judas.

And for the record, Codex Tchacos is our only copy of the gospel. That’s what makes it important. (Many or most early Christian non-canonical literature actually exist only in one or two manuscripts; there are many more copies of the four canonical gospels - especially Matthew and John.)

Just because it might be written after the death of John, it can still be “inspired”.

‘Inspired’ in what way?

And yet…the Gnostic books in the Nag Hammadi library found in 1945 are thought to have belonged to a nearby monastery, carefully and mindfully buried for posterity.
I can just see those monks…digging…trying to preserve the scripture they held dear and holy.

You’re right: the presumed site where the Nag Hammadi codices was found (a sort of cemetery, according to certain accounts) is near two Pachomian monasteries: that of Pabau (8.7 km) and Chenoboskia (5.3 km). But let’s face it: that’s all we know. While the idea that the books were associated with monks from either of these monasteries was popular when the library was still relatively newly-discovered (the 1950s-70s), the only real evidence of monasticism in the codices was a correspondence in a single codex: waste papyri used as cartonnage for the cover of Codex VII.

These letters for instance do mention a presbyter / monk named Sansnos (who could either be the same person or different persons with the same name); the letters are generally about business affairs of a mundane, even sort of secular nature (a Sansnos being asked to provide some wheat or chaff or to protect some tenant from harassment by his landlord; a Sansnos scolding someone named Aphrodisios for failing to send food to some “lads”, etc.) In fact, a close look at the correspondence would show that while some of the letters do seem to be connected with monks or ascetics, there is really nothing specifically ‘Pachomian’ about them.

While it was assumed that the binding must have been made by the same establishment that produced these books, and that those who produced these books also owned them, there need not necessarily be any such connection between the scribes and the bookbinders and the owners of the codices. For all we know, the bookbinder/s could have simply gotten these letters from a town rubbish heap somewhere.

Because the supposed monastic origin of the Nag Hammadi library isn’t as secure as originally thought, nowadays more scholars are rethinking the actual origin of these codices. One recent proposal I’ve found is that the codices were actually commissioned by private citizens to be used as grave goods. In other words, these books were meant to be buried all along. (We do know that were such a custom of burying books along with the dead in Egypt: many ancient Egyptians famously interred mummies with copies of the Book of the Dead. Note also that the Akhmim fragment, aka the Gospel of Peter, and even Codex Tchacos were apparently found buried in graves.)

I won’t repeat what I said in this thread, so I’ll just link to it.


To give you a nutshell version: NatGeo’s original translation of Judas was critically faulty in many substantial respects, which was probably due to the rush to publish an English translation of the gospel for public consumption. (The translators worked from a provisional unfinished Coptic transcription of the manuscript.)

The finished translation makes it appear that Judas was a sort of hero who committed a noble act by handing Jesus over to the authorities. Judas is presented as being singled out as Jesus’ greatest disciple, and alone is able to receive Jesus’ most profound teaching and revelation. However, a reevaluation and reexamination of the Coptic text shows that the opposite is actually the case: Judas is the “thirteenth daimon,” a pawn of Nebro-Yaldabaoth (the lesser god who created the material world, aka the demiurge) intent on ‘sacrificing’ Jesus’ fleshly body in order to prevent Jesus from completing His divinely-entrusted mission.

In other words, it is an attack on the orthodox idea of Jesus’ saving sacrifice on the cross and on the Eucharist: since the ‘sacrifice’ of Jesus’ body Judas perpetrated was actually to Nebro-Yaldabaoth/Saklas and his henchmen, the Archons, all Eucharistic offerings serve only to worship and extol him. Ergo, ‘orthodox’ Christianity is actually worshiping a false god. Jesus’ ‘teaching’ Judas all this revelation is actually him telling Judas all sorts of stuff that he will never enjoy anyway, because Judas will be condemned for his heinous act.

GoJ doesn’t really have a positive view of the apostles: Judas is the henchman of the lesser god tasked with ‘assassinating’ (in a sense) Jesus’ physical body, and the other apostles are shown to be misled by the same lesser god.

Let’s compare two translations of the Gospel of Judas here.

(National Geographic translation, by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst, in collaboration with François Gaudard)

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 persecuting [me severely]. 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 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 reserved 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 and I have taught you about the error of the stars; and …] send it …] on the twelve aeons.”

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 received 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 over them. In the last days they will curse your ascent to the holy [generation].”


(Lance Jenott, The Gospel of Judas: Coptic Text, Translation, and Historical Interpretation, 2011)

Judas said, “Teacher, just as you listened to all of them, now listen to me. For I have seen a great vision.” But when Jesus heard (this) he laughed. He said to him, “Why are you so worked up, you thirteenth daimon? If you speak too, I shall bear with you.”
Judas said to him, “I saw myself in the vision. The twelve disciples are stoning me. They’re chasing me rapidly]. Yet then I came to the place where I had followed] you. I saw a house in this place], and its size my eyes could not measure. Great people were surrounding it, and that house was roofed with † lightning. † And in the middle of the house there was …] …] Teacher, receive me too with these people.”
Jesus] responded saying, “Your star has led you astray, Judas. For indeed, no mortally born human is worthy to enter the house that you saw. For that is the place kept for the holy ones, the place where neither the sun nor moon nor day will rule, but they will always stand in the realm with the holy angels. Behold, I have told you the mysteries of the kingdom and I have taught you about the error of the stars. And …] has been sent on high] over the twelve realms.”
Judas said, “Teacher, surely my own seed does not dominate over the rulers.” Jesus responded saying to him, “Come, and I shall speak] with you about the holy race – not so that you will go to it], but so that you will mourn deeply when you see the kingdom with its entire race.”
When Judas heard this, he said to him, “What profit have I gained by your setting me apart from that race?” Jesus answered, saying, “You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the rest of the races, and you will rule over them. In the last days they <will …> to you. And you will not go up to the holy race.”

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