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The Gospel of Judas: Discovery, Restoration, and (Non-)Disclosure

I’ve decided not to give a detailed summary of this thread each time I resume it.  To make sense of what I’m saying, you’ll need to go to the beginning a few days ago.  Short story, though:  it’s about how I came to learn about the discovery of the Gospel of Judas through a phone call from a representative of National Geographic who wanted me to be on the team that established its authenticity, back in the fall of 2004.

Before I flew to Geneva, I learned a great deal more about the text and its discovery.  I give a fuller account in my book, The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.  It is all a very interesting story indeed, and reads (not because of my writing but because of the facts of the case) more like a Dan Brown novel than a factual narrative of what actually happened in real time and space.   I won’t give all the ins and outs here, but will make just three points.

The first is that the manuscript had not just been discovered.  It turns out that it was discovered in 1978 in Egypt, by peasants who found it in a limestone box in a burial cave in the Al Minya province of Egypt (about 120 miles south of Cairo), along with several other manuscripts on other things (a Greek mathematical treatise, a Greek copy of Exodus, and a fragmentary Coptic copy of some of Paul’s letters).   The manuscript with the Gospel of Judas in it was 62 pages long and contained three other Gnostic texts as well – so it was a small anthology.   The manuscript had been sold to a middleman and then to an antiquities dealer and then to another and…. it’s a really interesting story.   The manuscript ended up in the United States where the then owner tried to sell it for $3 million.  That didn’t work, and so he put it in a safe deposit box on Long Island (really!) where it sat for sixteen years before ever again seeing the light of day.

Eventually it was sold (for….

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My Non-Disclosure Agreement and the Gospel of Judas
How I First Learned that the Gospel of Judas Had Been Discovered

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Comments

  1. daviskent  February 5, 2015

    Have your book about the lost gospel in my TBR pile next to my bed; look forward to reading it even more now.

  2. rbrtbaumgardner  February 6, 2015

    Was the fact that the Gospel of Judas was found with a copy of Exodus and the letters of Paul meaningful in regard to Gnosticism–that it was *those* documents and not others?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 6, 2015

      It would probably mean that whoever collected those books had wide-ranging interests! But it wouldn’t tell us anything about what the author of any of the books was trying to convey.

  3. nichael  February 6, 2015

    (Speaking of the Gospel of Judas…)

    I would imagine that Dr Ehrman is already aware of this, but:

    Several times Dr Ehrman has recommended the book “The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity” by David Brakke as a good survey of modern thought about the Gnostics.

    I see that the Great Courses has just released a new course by Dr Brakke entitled “Gnosticism: From Nag Hammadi to the Gospel of Judas”.

    (Note that, as is standard practice for tGC, as a newly published title this course will be offered at a reduced price for a while.)

    • Bart
      Bart  February 6, 2015

      Yes indeed, I am. It should be a *terrific* course; David Brakke is as good as they get.

  4. Wilusa  February 6, 2015

    Hmm…I don’t think I even knew National Geographic had published a book prior to yours!

    I’ve been sort of surprised that there hasn’t been more talk about the Gospel of Judas in recent years. Even you don’t mention it often.

    I hope this site is working properly now. A couple minutes ago, I couldn’t see Comments or a place to leave them with any of your posts. I shot off an e-mail to Support – maybe I should have been more patient!

  5. han23614  February 6, 2015

    After reading The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot, finding the first century manuscript of the Mark’s Gospel does not seem to carry such significance as finding the Gospel of Judas Iscariot.

    If Craig Evans and Dan Wallace signed the non-disclosure agreement, wouldn’t that mean they were allowed to see the findings? Or they had to say they didn’t see as part of the agreement? It would be awkward if they signed yet were not allowed to see.

    • Bart
      Bart  February 9, 2015

      It would mean they weren’t allowed to talk about what they learn about it. I don’t know if they’ve ever actually seen it.

  6. dragonfly  February 7, 2015

    This is the coolest thread ever! What a privilege for you!

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