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What is the Gospel of Judas?

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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 was 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 a Gnostic gospel, espousing a Gnostic viewpoint of Christianity. 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.

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022