Gospel of Judas, Codex Tchacos

Gospel of Judas, Codex Tchacos, circa 300 C.E. Ink on papyrus, Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, Basel, Switzerland.

The Codex Tchacos, written in the Egyptian Coptic language and discovered in Egypt in the 1970s, contains early Christian texts, including the oldest known copy of the Gospel of Judas, shown here. The Gospel of Judas was considered heretical by early Christians and was lost for over 1,700 years. It is unlikely to have been written by Judas himself; rather it is believed to be written by Gnostic Christians (early Christians claiming superior knowledge of spiritual matters). The gospel relates conversations between the apostle Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ. Rather than portraying Judas as the betrayer of Christ who gave Jesus up to the Roman authorities for money, the Gospel of Judas relates stories of Judas’s obedience to Christ.

A page of the Gospel of Judas from Codex Tchacos (ca. 300 C.E.).

A text of pages bound leaf style, like a modern book—as opposed to a scroll, which has no discrete pages.

A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

The final stage of the Egyptian language, which also lent its name to the Coptic Church, the Egyptian branch of Orthodox Christianity.

Related to a set of beliefs that emphasized the pursuit of "gnosis" (enlightenment) and the divide between the spiritual and the material. Most notably present in Christian traditions that were later deemed heretical.

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