The Gospel of Judas is a fragmented Coptic (Egyptian)-language text that portrays Judas in a far more sympathetic light than did the gospels that made it into the Bible. In this version of the story, Judas turns Jesus over to the authorities for execution upon Jesus’ request, as part of a plan to release his spirit from his body. In the accepted biblical version of the tale, Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
As part of a 2006 National Geographic Society (the Society) investigation of the document, microscopist Joseph Barabe of McCrone Associates in Illinois and a team of researchers analyzed the ink on the tattered gospel to find out if it was real or forged. Some of the chemicals in the ink raised red flags — until Barabe and his colleagues found, at the Louvre Museum, a study of Egyptian documents from the third century A.D., the same time period of the Gospel of Judas.
“What the French study told us is that ink technology was undergoing a transition,” Barabe told LiveScience. The Gospel of Judas’ odd ink suddenly fit into place. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]
CSI: Ancient Egypt
Barabe and his colleagues specialize in thorough investigations of old — or supposedly old — documents and artwork. The chemical composition of inks used can reveal the difference between something authentically ancient and a forgery. In 2009, Barabe helped expose a gospel called the “Archaic Mark,” which some claimed was a 14th-century manuscript, as a modern forgery. He’s also worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to detect forged paintings.
A call from National Geographic, however, was a “big deal,” Barabe said. “It was both thrilling and an honor,” he added.
The Society wanted to find out if the Gospel of Judas, discovered in the 1970s, really dated back to early days of Christianity or whether it was, like Archaic Mark, a fake. Barabe brought together a team of scientists with a variety of specialties, and they ran the Gospel through an intensive analysis of microscopy and spectroscopy.
At first, their findings offered little hope that the Gospel of Judas was real. The document was written in two inks — black and brown — mixed together. The black was an ink called “lamp black,” which was consistent with the inks used in Egyptian writings from ancient times and into the third century, Barabe said.
But the brown ink was more mysterious. It was an iron-rich ink called iron gall, but it lacked the sulfur usually found in inks of this sort. The pressure was on to explain the difference.
“One thing that made this a little bit more dramatic than we would have liked is, we did the sampling in the third week of January of 2006, and the press conference was already scheduled for the third week in April of that same year,” Barabe said. “So we had three months to turn this critter around with a conclusion, and it really put an enormous amount of pressure on us, because we were faced with what was essentially a three-month rush project.”
Authenticating the gospel
Some facets of the document did suggest authenticity. The most promising of these characteristics, Barabe said, was that the ink wasn’t piled up in the warped papyrus, suggesting the document was written before the warping happened. Had someone tried to write on a pre-warped papyrus, the ink would have gathered in crevices and dips — a sure sign someone had intentionally tried to make new papyrus look old. Instead, the Gospel seems to have been written on flat papyrus and aged naturally. National Geographic also commissioned other analyses of the Gospel, including radiocarbon dating, script analysis and linguistic style.
Barabe hit the books, looking for other studies on early Egyptian inks. The study of Egyptian marriage certificates and land documents from the Louvre proved to be the clincher.
That study found that contracts in Egypt in the mid-third century were written in lamp black ink, in the traditional Egyptian style. But they were officially registered in the traditional Greek style, using brown iron gall ink.
The Louvre study findings suggested to the team that the presence of both inks was consistent with an early date for the Gospel of Judas, Barabe said.
What’s more, the Louvre study found that the metal-based inks from this time period contained little sulfur, just like the ink on the Gospel of Judas.
The discovery gave the researchers the confidence to declare the document consistent with a date of approximately A.D. 280. (Barabe and his colleagues caution that this finding doesn’t prove beyond doubt that the document is authentic, but rather that there are no red flags proving it’s a forgery.)
“There was definitely a point where, all of the sudden, I just kind of relaxed and said, ‘This is probably just fine,'” Barabe said.
Barabe presented the behind-the-scenes story of the Gospel of Judas investigation today (April 8) at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans. After the National Geographic investigation of the Gospel of Judas, the document was returned to the Coptic Museum in Cairo.
Translated by. Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst, in collaboration with François Gaudard
3.0 The Gospel of Judas:by Matt Slick https://carm.org/gospel-of-judas
The Gospel of Judas was developed by a Gnostic sect in the second century A.D and was originally written in Greek around 130-170. This fact alone tells us that it was not authored by Judas himself. The oldest extant copy is a Coptic manuscript written in Sahidic (last phase of ancient Egyptian) in the fourth or fifth century.
The gospel of Judas is included in a 62-page papyrusPapyrus: A plant growing along the Nile in Egypt during biblical times. It was used as writing material. Papyrus scrolls were made by cutting and pressing sections of the papyri plant together … Continue reading manuscript that was uncovered in Egypt during the 1950’s or 1960’s.http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=13097 The translator of the Gospel of Judas is Rodolphe Kasser of the University of Geneva, a leading Coptic Scholar; and the contents are due to be released in April, 2006. At the date of writing this article (April 7th, 2006), the complete translated text of this pseudepigraphal writing is unavailable.
However, at CNN.com we have the following excerpts:
According to National Geographic website on the Gospel of Judas page, it says that the newly discovered gospel is, “One of the most significant biblical finds of the last century’a lost gospel that could challenge what is believed about the story of Judas and his betrayal of Jesus.”http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/gospelofjudas In fact, National Geographic has invested a lot of money in its presentation.
Is the Gospel of Judas authentic?
The Gospel of Judas apparently depicts Judas in favorable terms and commends him as doing God’s work when he betrayed Christ to the Jewish religious leaders. This, of course, contradicts what was written by the apostles in their gospels of Matthew and John as well as those gospels written by Mark and Luke who are under the direction of Peter and Paul.
The Gospel of Judas falls into the category of pseudepigraphal writings. This means that the gospel is not authentic but is a false writing. In fact, the gospel was not written by Judas, but by a later Gnostic sect in support of Judas. Gnosticism was an ancient heresy that taught salvation through esoteric knowledge. Gnosticism was known at the time of the writing of the later epistles in the New Testament and was rejected by the apostle John.1 John speaks of those who deny the physical incarnation of Christ as being the spirit of the Antichrist. Many scholars agree that this is a reference to the Gnostic error that denied that God … Continue reading
The ancient writer Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202) in his work called Refutation of All Heresies said that the gospel of Judas was a fictitious history:
We can conclude that the Gospel of Judas is not authentic, is not inspired, and was properly rejected by the early church as an unreliable and inaccurate depiction of what really happened concerning Judas.
Of course, the complaint is often raised that this opinion, like that of the early church, simply rejected anything that opposed a preconceived idea. But, this complaint falls by the wayside when we understand that the early church knew which documents were authored by the apostles and which were not. God did not make a mistake when he led the Christian Church to recognize what is and is not inspired. The Gospel of Judas was never recognized by the church as being inspired.
On April 9, National Geographic aired the special on the Gospel of Judas.
Unfortunately, the special was below standard in its scholarly representation of both sides of the argument on the validity of the New Testament Gospels as well as the Gospel of Judas.
It did not give competent counter evidences against its liberal and inaccurate suggestions regarding the formation of the New Testament canon.
The special failed miserably to adequately deal with the formation of the New Testament Canon, how the gospels were arrived at, how we know who wrote them, and when they were written, etc.
It is extremely disappointing.
Here is a quick example of one of the many problems.
The National Geographic show had a “scholar” who stated that most experts agree that the earliest gospels weren’t written until around 60 A.D. But, the problem here is that no substantiation was offered for this opinion.
Second, internal evidence in the Gospels and the book of Acts contradicts the statement.
The book of Acts was written by Luke well after he wrote the Gospel of Luke.
Acts is a history of the early Christian church and it does not include the accounts of “Nero’s persecution of the Christians in A.D. 64 or the deaths of James (A.D. 62), Paul (A.D. 64), and Peter (A.D. 65).”McDowell, Josh, A Ready Defense, Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, Tenn., 1993, p. 80.
The book of Acts is a compilation of the early church’s history.
One would think that it would naturally include the death of such important figures as James, Paul, and Peter if it were written any time after their deaths.
Since this book does not include such information, it appears that it was written before at least the death of James (A.D. 62).
Let’s offer a conservative number of three years prior to the death of James which would mean Acts could have been written around A.D. 59
This would mean that the Gospel of Luke was written years before that–let’s pick a low number of five years before Acts which puts Luke at around A.D. 54.
Additionally, it is generally agreed upon that Mark was the first Gospel written.
Therefore, Mark was before Luke.
Let’s pick another low number of five years by which Mark preceded Luke.
This would reasonably put the Gospel of Mark at A.D. 49.
This is a conservative estimate, and it could be that Mark was written much earlier.
Therefore, very quickly we see that the statement made in the program that the gospels weren’t really written until after A.D. 60 can be easily countered.
The question is why is it that National Geographic did not produce competent counter arguments?
Another issue is regarding Gnosticism which was not properly represented.
Gnosticism basically states that God cannot become incarnate.
The show suggested that gnostics were Christians, but this cannot be since they contradict one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith–which was also taught in the Old Testament (Zech. 12:10).
John the apostle who wrote 1 John addressed the early formation of Gnostic thought in Chapter 4 when he denounced those as antichrists who denied that Jesus had “come in the flesh.”
National Geographic failed miserably to represent Christian theology and instead misrepresented Gnosticism–trying to make it appear that the present Christian theological system was merely the result of political happenstance.
CARM: Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (carm.org) | concludes that the National Geographic program was very biased and insufficiently researched.
Sometime in the 1970s, in a cave in Egypt, a copy of the “Gospel of Judas” was discovered. The circumstances of the discovery have been described as shady, with those who possessed the copy asking for exorbitant amounts of money for the codex.
For decades, no institution was willing to pay for the purchase due to its dubious origins. Eventually the codex of the Gospel of Judas was purchased by a foundation in Switzerland. The existence of the Gospel of Judas codex was made public in 2004, but the actual release of the content of the codex has been repeatedly delayed, finally being released in April 2006.
The dating of the original writing of the Gospel of Judas is thought to be about AD 150, with the Egyptian codex dating from the late 3rd century. According to various accounts, up to one third of the codex is missing or illegible.
Prior to this discovery, the only reference to the Gospel of Judas was in the writings of a 2nd-century Christian named Irenaeus. Irenaeus essentially wrote that the Gospel of Judas was the “invented history” of a long line of heretics and rebels against God.
The essential message of the Gospel of Judas is that Jesus wanted Judas to betray Him because it was necessary to fulfill Jesus’ plan. If it was Jesus’ plan for Judas to betray Him, why would Jesus label Judas the “son of perdition” (John 17:12) and state that it would have been better if Judas had never been born (Matthew 26:24)?
If Judas were simply following Jesus’ instructions, why would he commit suicide once he saw that Jesus was condemned (Matthew 27:5)?
The Gospel of Judas is simply a heretical forgery, much the same as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip.
Just as Judas Iscariot rejected Jesus and betrayed Him with a kiss, the Gospel of Judas rejects the true gospel and truth of God with a fraudulent appearance of validity.
1.0) Source: http://www.livescience.com/28506-gospel-judas-ink-authenticity.html
2.0) Source: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf
3.0) Source: https://carm.org/gospel-of-judas
4.0) Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/gospel-of-Judas.html
Related: Non Canonical Text
Related: Early Christian Writings
|↑3||by Matt Slick https://carm.org/gospel-of-judas|
|↑4||Papyrus: A plant growing along the Nile in Egypt during biblical times. It was used as writing material. Papyrus scrolls were made by cutting and pressing sections of the papyri plant together at right angles. They typical maximum length of a scroll was about 35 feet. The scribe, when using papyrus, would often use the natural horizontal fibers of the papyrus plant as guidelines. He would take a blunt instrument and score horizontal lines and then score two or more vertical lines as margins for the edge of the sheet or to define columns on it. We get the word “paper” from this word. Many of the biblical manuscripts were on papyrus.|
|↑9||1 John speaks of those who deny the physical incarnation of Christ as being the spirit of the Antichrist. Many scholars agree that this is a reference to the Gnostic error that denied that God could incarnate.|
|↑10||Irenaeus, Heresies, 31,1|
|↑11||McDowell, Josh, A Ready Defense, Thomas Nelson Publishers; Nashville, Tenn., 1993, p. 80.|