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Gospel of Judas back in spotlight after 20 centuries

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    Middle East Online First Published 2005-03-30, Last Updated 2005-03-30 14:14:14 Gospel of Judas back in spotlight after 20 centuries Swiss foundation seeks to
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2005
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      Middle East Online
      First Published 2005-03-30, Last Updated 2005-03-30

      Gospel of Judas back in spotlight after 20 centuries

      Swiss foundation seeks to shed light on controversial
      Christian text named after apostle said to have
      betrayed Jesus.

      By Patrick Baert - GENEVA


      About 2,000 years after the Gospel according to Judas
      sowed discord among early Christians, a Swiss
      foundation says it is translating for the first time
      the controversial text named after the apostle said to
      have betrayed Jesus Christ.

      The 62-page papyrus manuscript of the text was
      uncovered in Egypt during the 1950s or 1960s, but its
      owners did not fully comprehend its significance until
      recently, according to the Maecenas Foundation in

      The manuscript written in the ancient dialect of
      Egypt's Coptic Christian community will be translated
      into English, French and German in about a year, the
      foundation specialising in antique culture said on

      "We have just received the results of carbon dating:
      the text is older than we thought and dates back to a
      period between the beginning of the third and fourth
      centuries," foundation director Mario Jean Roberty

      The existence of a Gospel of Judas, which was
      originally written in Greek, was outlined by a bishop,
      Saint Irenee, when he denounced the text as heretical
      during the second century.

      "It's the only clear source that allows us to know
      that such a Gospel did exist," Roberty explained.

      The foundation declined to say what account Judas is
      said to give in his alleged gospel.

      According to Christian tradition, Judas Iscariot
      betrayed Jesus Christ by helping the Romans to find
      him before he was crucified.

      "We do not want to reveal the exceptional side of what
      we have," Roberty said.

      The author of the text is unknown.

      "No one can clearly state that Judas wrote it
      himself," Roberty said, while pointing out that the
      other gospels were probably not written by their
      supposed authors either.

      The four recognised gospels of the New Testament
      describe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus
      Christ and are said to record his teachings from the
      eyes of four of his disciples, Matthew, Mark, Luke and

      The Roman Catholic Church limited the recognised
      gospels to the four in 325, under the guidance of the
      first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine.

      Thirty other texts - some of which have been uncovered
      - were sidelined because "they were difficult to
      reconcile with what Constantine wanted as a political
      doctrine," according to Roberty.

      The foundation's director said the Judas Iscariot text
      called into question some of the political principles
      of Christian doctrine.

      It could also to some extent rehabilitate Judas, whose
      name has often come to symbolise the accusation of
      deicide - God-killing - levelled by some Christian
      teachings against the Jewish people, he added.

      After the manuscript is restored, the text is due to
      be translated and analysed by a team of specialists in
      Coptic history led by a former professor at the
      University of Geneva, Rudolf Kasser.

      Jean-Daniel Kaestli, an expert on gospels who has seen
      the manuscript, said the discovery was "very
      interesting", although the papyrus was in a bad state.

      He added that it was not going to lead to a
      revolutionary change in the vision of the Bible,
      although it could shed some new light on parts of
      Christianity's holy text.

      The Maecenas Foundation, which aims to protect
      archaeological relics found in poor countries, hopes
      to organise exhibitions around the manuscript and to
      produce a documentary on the process of unravelling
      the text.

      The full launch is due in Easter 2006.

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