by Silenci030310 on January 28th, 2013

Was there ever a Gospel According to Judas? An ancient book found in an Egyptian cave could be just that--and have an explosive message for Christians. About three decades ago, a 2,000-year-old mystery surfaced when a farmer looking for treasure in an Egyptian cave instead found a decaying leather-bound book, called a Codex, written in ancient Coptic. Not realizing what he had, he sold it to an antiquities dealer. Five years after the Codex was found, a scholar named Stephen Emmel was asked to look at it, but under the condition he not photograph it or make any notes. He told ABC's "Primetime" that he leafed through it and spotted a dialogue between Jesus and Judas and his disciples. "The name Judas came up again and again," he recalled. Then for 16 years it sat crumbling in, of all places, a safe-deposit box in a Long Island, N.Y., Citibank. In 2000 it was sold to former antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, who told "Primetime," "I think the circumstances of this manuscript coming to me were predestined. Judas was asking me to do something for him." National Geographic and ABC News report scholars now think this is the long lost Gospel of Judas that was banned by the early church as blasphemous and ordered destroyed. Deciphering it was a monumental task since the 13 pieces of papyrus were in more than 1,000 pieces. Swiss restorer Florence Darbre and her partner painstakingly fit the tiny pieces together like an ancient jigsaw puzzle. Then Emmel and another scholar, Rodolphe Kasser, were called in to authenticate the text. "I've looked at hundreds of papyri, Coptic papyri, in my career, and this is absolutely typical of ancient Coptic manuscripts," Emmel told "Primetime." "I'm completely convinced." The final task was to use radio carbon-dating to authenticate it, which meant destroying tiny pieces of the precious document. The result? The text was written between the third and fourth century and is believed to be a copy of a much older document written in Greek in the second century. What it has to say could shake Christianity to its core: The Bible says that Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver, handing him over for crucifixion, an act that damned him for all time. But this Gospel of Judas tells it differently: Jesus asked Judas to betray him. "Now, the Gospel of Judas also has Judas say to Jesus in fear and terror that he has a dream that the other disciples will hate him and will stone him to death, will attack him, Elaine Pagels, a professor at Princeton University and one of the world's foremost experts on ancient religious texts, told "Primetime." "And Jesus says, 'Yes, in fact, they will think that you are a terrible person because of what you did. This is part of the burden that you bear. But they will be wrong about that.' So it is an extraordinary transformation of the ordinary understanding of Judas Iscariot."

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