The Coptic Ps.Gospel of Judas (Iscariot)

Last Updated 30th March 2011.

A couple of years ago, at least four ancient codices in Coptic and Greek surfaced on the international art market.  Various rumours about it circulated online (recorded below).  The exact whereabouts of all these is a matter of doubt.  

The backstory is quite incredible. All of them were found in Egypt and exported by Cairo dealer Hannah, who offered them in Switzerland in 1983 for the staggering figure of $3m, and in 1984 imported them to the USA.  They then sat in a bank vault in New York until 1989, when James M. Robinson made an attempt to rescue them.  We have counts of leaves from this stage of the deal. This sale failed; they were then bought in 1999 by Swiss dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos.  Mrs. N. entrusted them to US dealer/philanthopist Bruce Ferrini.  Ferrini broke up the manuscripts and sold bits individually.  But since his cheques to Mrs N. had bounced, Mrs. N. repossessed what was left.  One codex containing the ps.Gospel of Judas was then placed in the hands of her lawyer, Mario Roberty, and his Maecenas Foundation.  The two did a deal with the US National Geographical Society, which is publishing all of this codex.  

Here is what is known about the mss in summary at the moment:

1 (Codex Tchacos) 25 ff + 10ff in fragments 4 gnostic texts written in the Sahidic dialect of Coptic:
- the ps."Gospel of Judas"
- the "First Apocalypse of James" 
- the "Epistle of Peter to Philip"
- "Allogenes" (fragmentary)

Includes 1 cover. ca. 300 AD.

Roberty has most of it.  But a half-leaf came up for sale in NY in early 2006, and Ferrini is widely thought to still have parts of the codex.  Some of it surfaced in a bank vault a couple of days ago.

When seen by Stephen Emmel in 1983, it had both covers, so possibly more exists.

2 55+ ff - the 'Book of Exodus' in Greek. 4th c.  Last leaf and colophon present.  Large sections of two quires (ca. 30 leaves per quire), plus hundreds of fragments.  Highest page number seen is 141. See Matthew Hamilton's and Ernest Muro's notes below, and the summary of the article from VT.  Bruce Ferrini seems to have turned it into single pieces of papyrus which he sold ad-hoc. New further info
3 30 ff - 'Letters of Paul' -- Colossians, 1 Thess. Hebrews (colophons for all these) and Galatians -- in Sahidic dialect.  Includes 1 cover and spine. ca. 400 AD. 24x16cms. Page numbers at top.  Highest number seen is 115. Frame ruled in pink chalk; many of the leaves complete or nearly so Best info is from Stephen Emmel's report. Stated in 2000 that had already been sold by Bruce Ferrini. New further info.

Now in Augsburg, apart from 2 leaves still in Ferrini's hands (in the receiver's lockbox) -- see the note by Ernest Muro.

4 12+ ff - 'Mathematical Treatise' in Greek cursive hand. 5th century. Broken up by Ferrini and sold by 2000 to at least two collectors, 'Mr. A.' (owner of the Archimedes palimpsest) and Lloyd Cotsen.  Mr. A. has 8-10 leaves; Mr. Cotsen gave his to Princeton University.

The contents of Codex Tchacos will all be published in a critical edition. While two of the texts are already known from the Nag Hammadi find, the new manuscripts should help to fill gaps in the text.  However there

The other manuscripts, unfortunately, have all gone astray.  If you know where any of them are, please tell me!

Here are the reports that I have, together with an English translation of the 'Gospel of Judas.'

This page is intended to draw all these together and add more as and when necessary.  It is quite likely that some of the statements made reflect the imagination of journalists, honest mistakes, or misinformation by those who wish to obscure the origins of the artefact; the author of much of this material, Michel van Rijn, believes he has himself been misled at various points by some of those involved.  

I have simplified the formatting of material from Michel van Rijn's site, which contains so much information that it can be hard to find the material solely on this find. We all owe him a substantial debt of gratitude for publicising this material.  His focus is on the art black-market, so I have omitted material unlikely to be of interest to manuscript enthusiasts.  Full versions are available at Michel's site. (News pages here) (Note that google do not display Michel's site in their results!)

[New Fragments from codex Tchacos online at Gregor Wurst's site] (30th March 2011)

Here: ""

[Ferrini really did keep a lot of the Gospel of Judas -- his bits sent to Cairo] (29th October 2010)

April DeConick summarises a journal article here:

I just received offprints of an article published in the first volume of Mohr Siebeck's new journal Early Christianity (link HERE). The article is a preliminary report written by Herbert Krosney, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst about the status of the OHIO fragments of the Gospel of Judas. In the first part of the article, Krosney explains the court battle over the OHIO fragments and their photographs which were analyzed by Gregor Wurst who recognized that they contained the balance of the Gospel of Judas, allowing us to read 90-95% of it.

According to Krosney's account, the fragments have made their way to Egypt in April 2010 and are under the care of Dr. Zahi Hawass who did not want the fragments to go to Switzerland for conservation first. The rest of the Tchacos Codex remains in Switzerland in the hands of the Maecenas Foundation who is now in a financial battle with Mrs. Frieda Nussberger.

The rest of the article is a sketch of the contents of the fragments and a preliminary transcription and translation based on photographs of the fragments possessed by Nussberger. There has been no distribution of the photographs to scholars other than Meyer and Wurst as far as I know. There is mention that Wurst and Meyer are consulting with the administration in Egypt in order to discover how to proceed in the critical publication of the fragments.

[A new article on new fragments of Codex Tchacos.] (21st September 2010)

I've had an email which reads:

In the journal "Early Christianity" (Mohr Siebeck, vol. 1/2 of 2010, pages 282-294) is an article by Herbert Krosney, Marvin Mayer and Gregor Wurst called "Preliminary Report on New Fragments of Codex Tchacos". I have no idea of which part of the codex the fragments are from or if there is any mention of texts other than Gospel of Judas and am unable at this stage to view the article.

Worth looking out for.

[More pages of Judas!] (22nd January 2010)

It turns out that Ferrini did indeed hold out on Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos.  During the bankruptcy proceedings, he produced a folder full of extra pages of the Gospel of Judas manuscript!  These were handed over to Gregor Wurst, and transcribed and translated.  The estimate is that nearly the whole text is now known.

Marvin Meyer is hosting a page of material here.   In Word documents there is:

[Coptic letters of Paul turn up!] (17th April 2009)

It seems that the manuscript containing the Coptic letters of Paul was sold "over a year ago" and is now in Augsburg, being conserved by Gregor Wurst.  This from Evangelical Textual Criticism:

Along with Codex Tchacos (= the Gospel of Judas Codex), two other codices were found. One of these contained the Pauline Epistles. This codex was sold about a year and a half ago and has been sent to Augsburg to be restored by Gregor Wurst. Apparently, it is also Sahidic with considerable Middle Egyptian influence. 

A picture has apparently been published of one side of a relatively intact leaf of Colossians in Ink and Blood Dead Sea Scrolls to the English Bible. Is there anyone out there who can send me a scan of the photo from this publication? The pamphlet was created as part of a traveling exhibition. cha25 [a]

[Buying from Ferrini on eBay -- Robert Kraft's notes] (4th April 2009)

I had not noticed that Robert Kraft had placed online an account of his attempts to recover some of the find from Bruce Ferrini's sales on eBay.  It's here; and I've mirrored it here.  The story is most interesting!

[Pieces for sale online.] (4th April 2009)

Collector Ernest Muro (see below) died over a year ago.  It seems that he had acquired some small fragments of the find of manuscripts, primarily from sales of the same by Bruce Ferrini on eBay.  These are now being sold again on eBay by the executor of his estate Carl Middleton.  There are tiny bits of the Gospel of Judas, and of the Greek Exodus, and also of the Coptic letters of Paul.

In March 2008, the auction of Bruce Ferrini's property was in progress, via Akron lawyer Scott Haley who was receiver of the bankrupt art-dealer.  See this article for details of the sales, which excluded "A batch of biblical artifacts that includes fragments from the Book of Exodus and the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. It also includes part of the controversial Gnostic manuscript known as the Gospel of Judas" because of questions about ownership, then sub judice.

From the ads I learn that at there are a few pages of the gospel of Judas manuscript, with a "magnifier" feature.

The Early
Church Fathers

Buy New: $29 Please support this site.



There are four books now published.  The Critical Edition, plus the original three.The first three are 'authorised'.  The discovery and restoration of the manuscript is in H.Krosney, The Lost Gospel : The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot. The English translation and notes are in R. Kasser, The Gospel of Judas. An unauthorised story about the financial skullduggery surrounding the text is found in J.M.Robinson, The Secrets of Judas.

[Complete manuscript images of Codex Tchacos online!] (31st January 2008)

If you go to you will find what look like a complete set of images of the reconstructed pages of the Codex Tchacos, containing the Gospel of Judas and 4 other texts, all in colour and excellent quality.  

No doubt these are not meant for public viewing, and indeed now that we have a critical edition, perhaps of limited interest other than to specialists.  But I hope National Geographic will make them available online permanently.

[More Exodus fragments] (17th November 2007)

Matthew Hamilton has emailed me that more of the Coptic Exodus manuscript has come to light:

I noticed in Detlef Fraenkel's edition of "Verzeichnis der griechischen Handschriften des Alten Testaments" (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004), pages 447-448, a reference to 10 fragments of the Exodus manuscript.

Fragments contain, according to Fraenkel:

10. Ex.34:34-35:4

Apparently Fraenkel was working from photocopies of the fragments, but what I can't work out from his wording is if the above listed contents represents the contents of only one side of each fragments or not. I suspect, based on each fragment NOT having two ranges of contents (one for each of recto and verso), that the contents he lists are for one side of each fragment.

On another matter, online there is an article by Henk Schutte, "Perkamentsnippers op E-Bay het Judas-evangelie na de hype", with a photograph of a fragment of the Gospel of Judas.  The PDF is here at

Many thanks indeed!  The fragment is shown on p.6 and is apparently one of those in the bank vault in Akron at the centre of a court case.

[Critical edition of Coptic text of Gospel of Judas released!!!  (11th November 2007)]

Well, it seems that the long awaited critical edition of the Gospel of Judas slipped out in the summer, unbeknownst to me, and, it would seem, unknown to most people judging from the number of reviews on Amazon.  It's edited by Rudolf Kasser.  It also includes an edition of the Letter of Peter to Paul and James and the Book of Allogenes; in short all the contents of Codex Tchacos.  

It is very nice indeed to have this at last.

[Ferrini woes] (25th September 2007)

I've had a very interesting email which tells me that fragments of the find are now being fought over in court (FirstMerit Bank vs. Bruce Ferrini).  Here are some of the details.  The wording is mine, and of course as with everything on this page, remember that we don't have the full story!

All of Ferrini's stated inventory is now tied up in receivership. He borrowed against a lot of material that he had on consignment but told the bank he owned.  The bank is now trying to sell this material, and those who own it naturally are objecting!

One case relates to a dealer who had claim to ownership of about a third of some very small Dead Sea Scroll fragments in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (none identified).   The dealer has now entered a claim that First Merit does not have the right to sell or auction material that Ferrini does not own, regardless of what he told them -- and that they should have checked before lending money against inventory. 

Frieda Tchacos and Mario Roberty have filed a joint claim regarding some fragments of the LXX -- no doubt the Exodus -- which again do not belong to Ferrini but which the bank want to sell.

Material in general of Ferrini's inventory is probably heading toward auction.  It seems doubtful that Sotheby's and Christie's would ever go near anything ever associated with Ferrini, because there are a lot of pieces in his stated inventory with conflicting ownership claims. 

First Merit Bank wants to sell of his inventory of course and recoup what they can on a bad loan, but they're finding it's not all that straightforward. Some pretty high profile folks are stepping up to say what's rightfully theirs.

[More pictures and more fragments of Exodus] (8th August 2007)

Matthew Hamilton has been on the trail of the Exodus:

Concerning the Exodus manuscript:

  1. there are 2 new photographs on the "Ink & Blood" website

  2. there is 1 new photograph on the Museum of Idaho website

  3. the Ink & Blood website now acknowledges that their leaves are from the same manuscript as the Schoyen leaves

  4. there is a possibility that there might be additional fragments presently with Lee Biondi. On his website he mentions that he has 4th century Septuagint fragments for sale, but doesn't mention what book of the Septuagint these are from. Biondi was once a partner with Bruce Ferrini, and whereas Ferrini has a poor reputation, Biondi has a good reputation.

He also points out that Michel van Rijn's site seems to have gone offline and is being rebuilt.

[PS. 12th September 2007.  Lee Biondi has contacted me to say that in fact he returned the fragments to Ferrini, and indeed that these are now the subject of court action against Ferrini by someone who claims to own them.]

[Four more leaves at the Fondation Bodmer?] (8th September 2006)

Michel van Rijn has written to me to say that the Fondation Bodmer (who hold the Bodmer collection of New Testament papyri) own four leaves of Codex Tchacos.  I have written to them to enquire what they contain, and where they came from.  Thank you for the tip-off, Michel!

[An Exodus leaf at Yale] (14th August 2006)

Ernest Muro has found another leaf possibly from the Exodus Ms.:

The Yale Papyrus Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has in its possession a leaf from the LXX Exodus codex that was once part of the Geneva Wares of 1983. It is cataloged as P.CtYBRinv.4475 and can be accessed at their web site:

Except for some good images, surprisingly very little information is given in the database. There is no indication of chapter and verse, just the dimensions and the number of lines of text. The acquisition group for this leaf, being 1996b, is interesting, because the items were acquired in 1996 from Gallery Nefer, which was owned by Frieda Tchacos-Nussberger.

With the aid of my computer, I learned that the text is Exodus 6:12-20 on the recto and 6:20-27 on the verso. I have updated my list that appears on the  web at I am now able to account for 20 leaves from the Exodus codex.

The Yale leaf follows four that are in the possession of Martin Schoyen and precedes the one that is owned by Francois Antonovich of Paris. A fifth leaf in the possession of Schoyen follows the Antonovich leaf. Because the Schoyen leaves were exhibited in Oslo in 1998, all seven of these leaves (Schoyen, Yale, and Antonovich) appear to have been acquired prior to the acquisition of the Geneva Wares by Tchacos-Nussberger in 1999 and 2000 as popularized in a variety of ways in April of this year.

Visiting the Beinecke site, the leaf is categorised as "Christian text, old testament".  

Physical description: 

246 x 160 mm, leaf of codex.
(A) 31 lines, right left bottom margins
(B) 31 lines, right left bottom margins

The images are accessible from  

(Note that Martin Schoyen does not believe that his leaves come from the same codex).  The most interesting aspect of this report, if correct, is that the leaves were acquired by Yale before Frieda obtained the mss. from Hanna.  This all suggests that another Exodus codex may be in question.

[Details on the leaves of the Greek mathematical treatise at the Cotsen library] (28th July 2006)

I have recently heard from the Cotsen library at Princeton, who hold part of the Greek Mathematical treatise broken up by Bruce Ferrini.  Andrea Immel writes:

The mathematical treatise in question was recently gifted to the Cotsen Children's Library by the donor, Lloyd E. Cotsen.It consists of three large fragments of papyrus leaves: 1: 25.5 x 14.5 cm.; 2: 26.5 x 13.5 cm.; 3: 25 x 14.5 cm.Each leaf is extremely fragile: there are holes, frayed edges and discoloration.There are no photographs available at this time. 

[Detailed description of all 4 codices] (20th July 2006)

Michel van Rijn has published on his website three documents which reveal the state of the 4 codices at an uncertain date, but prior to 2003, when they were in the hands of Bruce Ferrini!  This includes the first detailed descriptions of the other three codices!  Michel writes:

...whilst staying for three months in Bruce Ferrini's mansion in 2003, being an inquisitive archivist, your bible-sleuth gleaned all material relating to the Bible Book of Exodus, The Mathematical Treatise, The letters of Paul and the currently world infamous--or is it blasphemous?-- Gospel of Judas. Presently the academic world ... is wondering how many pages and fragments Bruce 'Scissorhands' Ferrini stole, when he had all these sacred goodies in his possession in late 2000.... it is a good time to publish the complete inventory with the original condition report of the entire cache, from Ferrini's own records.  [Ferrini wrote:] "We have seen this papyrus, handled it, and hold portions of it."

The first text is a fax of typescript.  This suggests to me that it must predate the fax stamp of 2003, and belongs to an era when word-processors were not as omnipresent as today.  Is it really possible to date it much later than 1990 at the latest?  It appears to be a report by a scholar on the whole find.  Note that there is no mention of the damage caused by damp during the long stay in the US vault during the 1990's, which suggests that it predates that stay:

4 Ancient Codices on Papyrus :  

1) Bible.  Book of Exodus. Greek. 

Extensive fragments, perhaps as many as several hundred pieces, of a papyrus manuscript containing the Greek text of the biblical book of Exodus.  The script suggests a fourth or fifth century date for the writing of the book.  The last leaf, with the colophon, is present.  The fragments are wrapped in a bundle of paper and include several large sections of two quires (ca. 30 leaves per quire) and hundreds of fragments varying in size from a nearly full leaf to a thumbnail.  No traces of the binding, other than parchment sewing guards on one gathering and a few pieces of sewing cord, are preserved.  Page numbers survive on a few pieces, ranging as high as 141; it is not unlikely that there are portions of that many leaves among the fragments and that a substantial part of the text is preserved, although this is impossible to determine in the current state of the manuscript.  The text appears to include many variants from the standard edition of the Septuagint, and some of these variants are recorded as Hexapla readings, suggesting that this manuscript is of considerable importance for the textual study of the Old Testament.  Biblical papyri are very rare and highly sought after.  

2) Mathematical Treatise.  Greek.

At least 17 substantially complete leaves (including one complete bifolium) of a mathematical text, dealing with geometry (the measuring of triangles and liquid volume, among other things), and hundreds of small fragments.  There are numerous drawings, some mathematical and related to the text, others appear to be purely decorative (crosses).  Extensive searching indicates that the text cannot be identified with any known extant mathematical treatise from antiquity.  The script suggests a fourth or fifth century date.  No trace of the original binding is present, but the bifolium has sewing holes that show that the book was originally stab sewn.  The text has sections on practical mathematics, e.g., how to determine surface and volume.  It may be a text for teaching practical mathematics.  No similar manual survives otherwise from Antiquity, and this one will be of great interest to documentary papyrologists, as well as to historians of mathematics.  The large leaves of this manuscript were placed in the front of the volume of Pauline letters (item 3), with which they have no relationship.  They do not belong to that binding, as the leaves are larger than that binding.  This manuscript is unique and of great importance for the history of mathematics in antiquity.

3) Bible.  Letters of Paul.  Coptic.

Pauline letters in Sahidic dialect of Coptic, 4th or 5th century (maybe slightly earlier).  Leaves approx. 24 x 16 cm, frame ruled in pink chalk; many of the leaves complete or nearly so.  Page numbers run as high as 115, but there are not that many leaves present.  Portions of Thessalonians, Colossians, and Hebrews (there are colophons present for those three) and Galatians have been identified.  There are many leaves more or less completely preserved, and hundreds of small fragments.  One cover from the original binding is present, and portions of the spine.  The board is made of papyrus cartonage, and includes inscribed papyrus, some of it literary, some of it documentary.  It could provide clues to the date and origin of the binding.  Ancient New Testament manuscripts are very rare, and are the most valuable (in market terms) of ancient papyri.

4) Gnostic Codex.

A composite volume of at least three Coptic texts, in Sahidic dialect: the First Apocalypse of James, the Epistle of Peter to Philip, and the Gospel of Judas.  The first two were first discovered and published from Nag Hammadi codicies (codex V and cpdex VIII, respectively), and the Nag Hammadi manuscript in each case is the only one known till now.  The Nag Hammadi codices are defective and the present codex fills some of the gaps in the text of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts (so some of the text present here is unique).  These are very brief works, of only a few pages each.  The third work is apparently much longer and is totally unknown to the modern world.  The portion of it that could be read (from the very end of the work) suggests that the whole text is a dialogue between Jesus and Judas Iscariot, ending with a report of Judas' betrayal.  A work called, as this one is in the colophon, the Gospel of Judas, is mentioned by the second-century writer Irenaeus in his treatise on heretics.  His description of the contents seems to match what can be read of this manuscript.  There are at least 50 pages of the manuscript either substantially complete or represented by major fragments (page numbers are preserved at the top of most leaves), but the pages are badly deteriorated and impossible to turn at the moment without breaking off further pieces.  There are also hundreds of small pieces already broken off.  Colophons or titles exist for all three works.  It is not impossible that there are other texts intervening between the end of the Epistle of Peter to Philip and the beginning of the Gospel of Judas.  The papyrus is, in general, in brittle condition and desperately needs conservation.  Portions of the original binding are present and contain inscribed cartonnage.  This is unquestionably the most important of the four manuscripts, equivalent in importance to the Nag Hammadi books.

For each of the four codices, there were fragments, large and small, mixed in the bundles with the other manuscripts.  The storage of the manuscripts was clearly disorganised, and fragments of all four books got mixed together.  Many of these have been moved to folders, identifying which book they belong to (and which they came from). 

The second document -- clearly part of a longer document, and mainly reproducing material above -- is word-processed and clearly dated to 2001:

High Meadow. 1080 Top of the Hill Drive
. Ohio . 44333-2278 USA

2)    Mathematical Treatise.  Greek.

At least 17 substantially complete leaves (including one complete bifolium) of a mathematical text, dealing with geometry (the measuring of triangles and liquid volume, among other things), and hundreds of small fragments.  There are numerous drawings, some mathematical and related to the text, others appear to be purely decorative (crosses).  Extensive searching indicates that the text cannot be identified with any known extant mathematical treatise from antiquity.  The script suggests a fourth or fifth century date.  No trace of the original binding is present, but the bifolium has sewing holes that show that the book was originally stab sewn.  The text has sections on practical mathematics, e.g., how to determine surface and volume.  It may be a text for teaching practical mathematics.  No similar manual survives otherwise from Antiquity, and this one will be of great interest to documentary papyrologists, as well as to historians of mathematics as well as to historians of the volume of Pauline letters (item 3), with which they have no relationship.  They do not belong to that binding, as the leaves are larger than that binding.  This manuscript is unique and of great importance for the history of mathematics in antiquity.

(Note that the words in italics are handwritten and labelled "Bruce's changes 8/22/00" in the margin)

The third document is dated: 

September 4, 2001 .

To Whom It May Concern:

Over the last few days, August 25 - September 4,  2001 , Bruce Ferrini and Lee Biondi have discussed and begun actual writing of a book length non-fictional work on several aspects of "The Gospel of Judas Iscariot".

"The Gospel of Judas Iscariot", one of the so-called "lost books" of early Christianity, was referred to in Irenaeus and was known to exist in the 2nd Century but has been lost to the world since that time.

A 4th Century Coptic papyrus of the Gospel of Judas Iscariot, apparently complete, or near-complete was in Mr. Ferrini's possession in late 2000.

We have seen this papyrus, handled it, and hold portions of it.  On our behalf, Dr. Charles Hedrick has begun to transcribe and translate some of the most readily legible portions of the text.  On September 4th we contacted Thomas Harris regarding advice and thoughts on appropriate representation.  The several aspects of the work which, Bruce Ferrini and Lee Biondi are now writing, include:

1)  The text itself: photographs and translations of the text that they can make available, its intrinsic importance, and its status as heresy.  Perhaps this text is the ultimate heresy as its author/protagonist committed the ultimate heretical act in the betrayal of Jesus Christ.

2) The history of the text during its lifetime amid the exciting, confusing, and seminal development of early Christianity and the ultimate formation of the Christian church during the 1st-4th Century.

3) The modern history of this papyrus; its serendipitous discovery in the Egyptian desert in the early 1980's, it's subsequent sub rosa existence in Egypt, Greece, Switzerland, New York, Connecticut (Yale University), Akron, Ohio, and it's ultimate return to hiding in Switzerland. Its story is filled with naïfes, thieves, smugglers, fences, powerful dealers, powerful lawyers, eminent scholars, etc.

Thanks to Michel for letting me know about this new info, and to Steven Goranson for independently emailing me.

[Update and new Exodus page] (1st July 2006)

There is no new 'news' about the ps.Gospel of Judas.  The Greek Mathematical treatise remains in limbo, as neither Alexander Jones nor Roger Bagnall is actively working on it.  The letters of Paul manuscript remains the one about which nothing seems to be being said (unfortunately Gregor Wurst did not respond to my email).  Matthew Hamilton has continued to work on the Exodus manuscript, and has reconstructed tentatively one of the pages.  He also has sent in some images found on the web (but now vanished).

[Summary of material from David DeSilva and Marcus Adams. "Seven Papyrus Fragments of a Greek Manuscript of Exodus."] (9th June 2006)

This article appeared in Vetus Testamentum Vol. 56, No.2 (April 2006).  Wieland Willker kindly sent me a copy from which I abstract the following.

The article publishes 7 fragments of a Greek manuscript of Exodus.  The ms. is papyrus, reportedly from Egypt, written in the mid-fourth century AD.  The writing is "expert uncial" with scribal marks and nomina sacra.


These seven fragments come from a sufficiently early manuscript to show considerable independence of both Alexandrinus and, more surprisingly given its greater antiquity, Vaticanus.

This all sounds very like the manuscript that passed through Bruce Ferrini's hands; and clearly was dismembered by him.

[Postscript, 23rd June 2006: Matthew Hamilton has written to me again and adds:

deSilva and Adams in their Vetus Testamentum article focus on the text variants, but [don't go into detail on] the codicological aspects of the fragments. Reconstruction of the fragments suggest that the fragments come from pages with typically about 33 or 34 lines per page, and 19 or 20 letters per line.

Schoyen's denial that his (and Antonovich's) fragments  are from the same codex [is interesting], as the fragment on his website shows a page with about 32 lines and 19 letters per line - almost exactly the same as the fragments published by deSilva and Adams. It is possible and it would be good if it were so, but what is the chance of two papyrus codices of Exodus from the mid 4th century with similar codicological features, appearing on the market at the same time, especially as Schoyen sourced his Exodus fragments from Bruce Ferrini who was also the donor of the Exodus fragment to Ashland Theological Seminary? It seems like quite a coincidence.

I haven't done a proper reconstruction yet and checked against the typological standards set out by Turner, but it looks like the page sizes given in Schoyen's website and reconstructed for the fragments in deSilva and Adams are about the same. Of course this could be due to common factors (of mid 4th century Egypt) producing common page sizes.]

[Ernest Muro on the Exodus and Paul codices] (3rd June 2006)

I have had an email from Ernest Muro about the location of various leaves of the Exodus and Paul.  He has been looking at catalogues of the "Ink and Blood" exhibition and media photographs of the leaves held by the receiver for Bruce Ferrini. 

I am happy to announce the tentative results of my efforts to compile a list of leaves in the "Exodus" and the "Letters of Paul" codices that were briefly examined in a Geneva hotel room on May 15, 1983. I have called these items the "Geneva Wares" as the eyewitness report by Steve Emmel is one of the few reliable sources pertaining to these manuscripts.

I have uploaded these two lists to my web site. They can be accessed at

There are 19 leaves for the Exodus codex that I have been able to verify and 2 such leaves of the codex containing the Letters of Paul. As for the Exodus codex, I have yet to verify the existence of: 12:19-29; 12:45-13:7; and 35:21 as shown on your web page. I would appreciate any details or contact information in this regard. ... [Rather than post Ernest's email address, direct the queries via me and I will pass them on--RP]

The present whereabouts of these manuscripts is another matter. Two of the Exodus leaves are currently on display in the Ink and Blood exhibit at Daytona Beach, Florida. Some of the Exodus and Pauline leaves are currently in a safe deposit box in Akron, Ohio.

His calculations of what exist are on his website.  Note that Martin Schoyen reckons that Ms 187 in his collection is NOT part of our Exodus Ms.  

Note also the publication Mr Muro gives: David DeSilva and Marcus Adams. "Seven Papyrus Fragments of a Greek Manuscript of Exodus." Vetus Testamentum Vol. 56, No.2 (April 2006), which I have not seen (but see above, 9/6/6).  Are we sure that it is part of our Ms?

Postscript 9/6/6: Ernest Muro writes to add:

I am of the opinion that all of the 19 leaves in my list were once part of the same codex, including those belonging to Martin Schøyen. If you scroll down your web page to the picture of the papyrus fragment that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, you will notice a diple (or perhaps a paragraphus) in the left margin near the bottom followed by the Greek word "de." If you look at the picture of MS 187 at Schøyen's web site, you will find a similar diple which is also followed by the word "de." Also note the similar script.

Herbert Krosney, on page 162 of "The Lost Gospel" relates the acquisition by Martin Schoyen of certain "biblical" leaves that were offered with the Coptic codex. He adds that Schoyen was a "master" at such dealings, whereby James Robinson was not.

Also, keep in mind the fact that the picture of MS 187 at Schoyen's web site depicts 3 leaves, one atop the other. Two of them contain text from the 5th. chapter of Exodus. These two leaves are items 9 and 10 in my list.

[Summary of data from Herbert Krosney, "The lost gospel"] (28th April 2006)

Krosney has tracked the back-story very far indeed.  About 50% of the book is devoted to explaining various matters -- there is a chapter on how the Egyptian illegal art market works, for instance --, but the remainder is essential reading, and cannot be adequately summarised here.  But the most interesting part is that the find was split by some Greek traders who had stolen it; and that various photographs exist from various stages, including from before it left Egypt!  Tracking these down would be well-worth someone's while.

Selected key points (names in quotes are pseudonyms, apparently):

Note that this is a very condensed summary of points mainly relating to photographs, and the book is an essential purchase for the full story and context.

[Summary of data from James M. Robinson, "The secrets of Judas"; Stephen Emmel's report] (28th April 2006)

Much of the book is directed at those new to the subject.  Important information for long-term readers:


The collection of papyri being offered for sale consists of four separate manuscripts, and possibly fragments of some others. A system of numeration and designations was agreed upon with the owner and his intermediary for referring to the four manuscripts, as follows:

1.  "Exodus" (Greek)

2.  "Coptic Apocalypses Codex" (Coptic)

3.  "Letters of Paul" (Coptic)

4.  "Metrodological Fragment" (Greek)

The material was being stored in three cardboard boxes lined with newspaper. Items 1, 2, and 4 were each in a separate box, with the fragments of item 3 mixed together with items 1 and 4. This report is concerned only with the Coptic items, mainly with item 2, briefly with item 3.

Item 3 is fragments of a papyrus codex from the 5th (possibly 4th) century AD containing at least some of the letters of St. Paul. The leaves are approximately 24 cm tall and 16 cm broad. The scribe outlined his writing area with pink chalk. His handwriting is cursive in style, as though somewhat quickly written. The pages are numbered above the center of a single column of writing, the highest page number observed being 115. There are some nearly complete leaves of the codex preserved, and many smaller fragments, which might be reassembled into at least a sizeable portion of the codex. There is also part of a leather binding (either the front or the back cover, including the spine, lined with scrap papyrus) which probably, though not certainly, belongs to this codex. The contents identified with certainty are Hebrews, Colossians, and 1 Thessalonians. The texts are in a non-standard form of the Sahidic dialect.

Certainly the gem of the entire collection of four manuscripts is item 2, a papyrus codex from the 4th century AD, approximately 30 cm tall and 15 cm broad, containing gnostic texts. At the time that the codex was discovered, it was probably in good condition, with a leather binding and complete leaves with all four margins intact. But the codex has been badly handled; only half of the leather binding (probably the front cover) is now preserved and the leaves have suffered some breakage. The absence of half of the binding and the fact that page numbers run only into the 50's lead me to suppose that the back half of the codex may be missing; only closer study can prove or disprove this supposition. The texts are in a non-standard form of Sahidic.

The codex was inscribed in a single column in a large and careful uncial hand. Page numbers were placed above the center of the column and decorated with short rows of diples [hatch-marks] above and below. At least pp. 1-50 are represented by substantial fragments which, when reassembled, will make up complete leaves with all four margins intact. The portion of the leather binding preserved is lined with cartonnage, layers of scrap papyrus glued together to form a kind of cardboard. At least some of this cartonnage is inscribed, offering hope that the date and location of the manufacture of the codex can be determined with some precision once the cartonnage has been removed and studied.

The codex contains at least three different texts: (1) "The First Apocalypse of James" known already, though in a different version, from Nag Hammadi Codex (NHC) V; (2) "The Letter of Peter to Philip" known already from the NHC VIII (in the new manuscript this title, [in Coptic] TEPISTOLH MPETROS SHAFILIPPOS, is given as a subscript [cf. the superscript title, slightly different, in NHC VIII 132:10-11] accompanied by decorations to fill out the remainder of the page on which the text ends); and (3) a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples (at least "Judas" [i.e., presumably, Judas Thomas] is involved) similar in genre to "The Dialogue of the Savior" (NHC III) and "The Wisdom of Jesus Christ" (NHC III and the Berlin Gnostic codex [PB 8502]).

The leaves and fragments of the codex will need to be conserved between panes of glass. I would recommend conservation measures patterned after those used to restore and conserve the Nag Hammadi Codices (see my article, "The Nag Hammadi Codices Editing Project: A Final Report," American Research Center in Egypt, Inc., Newsletter 104 [1978] 10-32). Despite the breakage that has already occurred, and that which will inevitably occur between now and the proper conservation of the manuscript, I estimate that it would require about a month to reassemble the fragments of the manuscript and to arrange the reassembled leaves between panes of glass.

According to the owner, all four of the manuscripts in this collection were found near the village of Beni Masar, about 8 km south of Oxyrhynchus (modern Behnasa). It is difficult to know how seriously to take such information. Study of the cartonnage in the two surviving covers will probably provide more certain information as to the provenance at least of the manufacture of the codices.

The owner asked $3,000,000 for the entire collection. He refused to consider lowering his price to within a reasonable range, claiming that he had already come down from $10,000,000 in negotiations with one previous prospective buyer. He also refused to discuss the prices of the four individual items separately. He would like to sell all four manuscripts together, but probably will sell them individually if necessary.

I strongly urge you to acquire this Gnostic codex. It is of the utmost scholarly value, comparable in every way to any one of the Nag Hammadi Codices. Like them as well, it is one of the oldest specimens of a book in codex form; the fact that part of the cover is also preserved is a remarkable stroke of luck. There is great danger of further deterioration of the manuscript as long as it is in the hands of the present owner. This unique item must be put as quickly as possible into the hands of a library or museum where it can be restored, published, and conserved.

Stephen Emmel 
June 1, 1983

[From R.Kasser, M.Meyer, G.Wurst, "The Gospel of Judas"] (26th April 2006)

I have now received my copy of the three volumes above.  Rudolphe Kasser's essay contains much detail on the recovery process; would that this was more often available for mss.  

A brief summary of important data follows.

[From Matthew Hamilton] (21st April 2006)

Matthew has been researching the fate of the Exodus fragments, and has compiled the following info.

The Exodus codex: Besides the parts known of from the Ink and Blood exhibit, and the Schoyen Collection (and those in the Antonovich Collection mentioned in the Schoyen Collection website), it appears there is a fragment in the Ashland Theological Seminary. See David A. deSilva, "An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation", page 808. The same book includes on page 43 a fragment belonging to "a private collector".

Various web reports on the Exodus fragments at Ink and Blood [as well as at "From The Dead Sea Scrolls to the Bible in America" and "Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book"] have been accompanied by photographs of some of the leaves, here are the references of some of them - note that the web addresses may no longer be active?

"Religious history, Bible on display in Murfreesboro", The Tennessean, (7.3.2003)
-Was at  "It will be on display April 6-29 in Murfreesboro along with some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a large collection of other artifacts from early Judaism and Christianity. Some fragments of the scrolls were also displayed yesterday, along with a fragment of a page from an early bible in Greek."


"Exhibit opens eyes to pages of Bible history", by M.J. Park, The St. Petersburg Times Online, (14.1.2006)
-Was at  
-The caption on the photograph here suggests Exodus 3 ("Moses and the burning bush"), but I couldn't match the text on the photograph to Exodus 3.  (Postscript 9/6/6: Wieland Willker wrote to say that it is definitely Exodus 3: "e.g. you can see in line 6: ARGURA from Exo 3:22").

The Schøyen Collection: Checklist of 600 Manuscripts Spanning 5000 Years, 20th ed., internet ed., by M. Schøyen and E.G. Sørenssen
-Available online at, and specifically 
-Revised Feb. 2006
-See section 1.2. Schøyen collection lists Ex.4:17-6:12; 7:12-21, and Ex.6:28-7:12 listed for Antonovich collection
[But contrary to this, Martin Schøyen tells me that it has been confirmed by Drs Robinson, Emmel and 'a German scholar' that these fragments (Schoyen Ms. 187) are not from our codex.  In particular a photo from Hannah exists of a leaf containing Ex. 5, which passage also exists in Ms.187, thereby proving that the two are distinct. --RP, April 2006]

Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book: A History of the Bible, [by Lee Biondi?] ([Dallas?]: HisStory, 2003) (also now offline)
-This is the exhibit catalogue, see pages IV, X, 8, 34-36. Page 8 refers to Ex.26:22-25; 30:19-21, pages 34-36 refer to Ex.10:12-22; 12:9-17; 26:22-25; 34:12-24

Email by Gary Dykes to TC-List (no longer an active list), of 6 July 2003, and email by Gary Dykes to myself, of 2 August 2003, with attached photographs,refers to Ex.12:19-29,30-41,45-13:7; 35:21

I have copied various images off the web, as well as some images provided by Gary Dykes (and I can't recall which are which, or the sources of some of these images). If you need copies, I will try to forward these to you after I have checked with Gary Dykes, or you may want to contact Gary Dykes yourself. His email is (or was in 2003) garyandgale_at_

Besides Gary Dykes, another person who may be able to provide some details is David A. deSilva, who is (or was in 2004) at Ashland Theological Seminary with email and was planning to publish their fragment, as well as Lee Biondi, who advised me in 2003 that the Schøyen, Antonovich and "Dead Sea scrolls to the Forbidden Book" fragments were from the same MS.

In summary, the 55 or so leaves contain at least:

My apologies for not being able to provide more details of contents, but I have not had time over the last 3 years to compare the contents of the images (web, email and catalogue) with a standard Septuagint edition, I am not sure that the summary list is either as correct or as complete as it could be.

[From Michel van Rijn] Stolen Pages of Exodus in Ferrell Collection

Van Rijn offers the following emails between people apparently with addresses at Ferrini and Ferrell.  The majority of the material concerns various disputes, but this one is of interest:

From: "Theresa S" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2003 3:13 PM

Subject: Descriptions and provenance

In preparation for our meeting on Wednesday and so that our attorney can finalize descriptions of the items to be included in the settlement, I'd like to have faxed to me on Monday descriptions and provenance for ...[various items]

I am assuming the 10 sets of ancient writings, the Exodus fragments, the marzeah Papyrus and Dead Sea fragments are exactly as described in the books you gave us.


Theresa [Schekirke]

[From Ohio News] Ohio Lawyer Shows Off Gospel Of Judas. Apr 19 2006 7:52PM

Michel van Rijn draws attention to the following story:

An Akron lawyer is trying to pay bankruptcy debts of an art and antiquities dealer. Thursday he offered a glimpse
of several small, brown bits of papyrus that may be part of the roughly 1700-year-old Gospel of Judas.

The items may have historical and religious significance. Scott Haley's court-appointed task is to pay Ohio collector Bruce Ferrini's creditors.

[Original site has photo of extensive fragments, which I have not been able to link to]

Whether the fragments that ended up in a bank vault in downtown Akron are genuine remains in question.

Haley said he has no immediate plans to go through a time-consuming, expensive authentication process. He also said he wants to draw attention to Ferrini's assets, but hopes the fragments will not have to be sold and can be returned to him.

An ancient text about Judas was preserved and translated by a team of scholars, then made public by the National Geographic Society about two weeks ago.

The announcement drew worldwide attention, telling a far different version than that in the four Gospels in the New Testament.
        (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

[From via Michel van Rijn] History, faith meet in Akron bank vault: Ancient text from Gospel of Judas may be part of local collection. Tue, Apr. 18, 2006. By Bob Dyer. Beacon Journal staff writer

You may have heard about the Gospel of Judas, a long-lost manuscript that has been getting international attention.

But you haven't heard this: Part of it is in Akron.

A portion of the 1,700-year-old treasure is sitting in a bank vault on South Main Street.

At least that's what the National Geographic Society says.

If you haven't been following the story, National Geographic helped fund a mission by an international team of experts to authenticate, translate and preserve the only known copy of the Gospel of Judas, an ancient book based on the life of Jesus' least popular disciple.

A sizable chunk of that manuscript -- 10 to 20 percent, by one estimate -- is right here.

How did it get here?

The short version is this: The manuscript was discovered in a cave in Egypt in the 1970s and wound its way through antiquities dealers in Europe and the United States before being purchased in 2000 by Bath Township resident Bruce Ferrini.

Ferrini is an internationally known art dealer who filed for bankruptcy last September. He bought the ancient book, known as a codex, for $2.5 million. But because of his failing finances, the deal fell through.

Ferrini was at least $4.6 million in debt last year, according to court filings, and creditors began to battle for his holdings. Akron attorney R. Scott Haley was appointed to catalog and assess Ferrini's possessions.

In 2001, when the sale fell apart, Ferrini supposedly returned the whole codex to its previous owner. But according to Haley and National Geographic, which photographed the Akron pieces in February, a significant portion of the gospel remained in Ferrini's possession.

Ferrini referred a phone call to Akron lawyer Morris Laatsch, who said Ferrini returned everything he was given by the previous owner, and questions whether the National Geographic experts are correct.

"There's more than one series of writings," Laatsch said. "The Gnostics apparently wrote lots of things. Possibly this could be from this same document. But if the experts do say it is, I guess perhaps you can rely on them or not rely on them."

Manuscript's location

The delicate fragments are inside a special vault at FirstMerit. Only the bank has the combination to an outer vault, and only Haley has the combination to an inner vault.

The Akron fragments are stored in 26 plastic folders, each about the size of half a standard envelope.

Traditional Christian belief has it that Judas, a disciple of Christ, betrayed him, turning him over to Roman authorities for execution. This new account argues that Judas was actually Jesus' closest disciple, and that the only reason Judas blew the whistle was Jesus asked him to.

Christian scholars are widely split in regard to the potential religious impact of the discovery. Some believe the name Judas may no longer be synonymous with "traitor." Others say the find will have little impact. But the historical value is unquestioned.

The papyrus manuscript survived -- just barely -- because it lay untouched for 1,600 years in a limestone box in a desert cave. It almost didn't survive because it also spent 16 years in a safe deposit box in Long Island, N.Y.

Ferrini didn't do it any favors, either, according to one account. The Associated Press reported that he damaged it by storing it in his freezer.

"You can't believe how much I regret having sold it (to Ferrini)," European dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos told the AP.

International interest

Haley first realized what he was dealing with when a lawyer for Nussberger-Tchacos and the Maecenas Foundation in Switzerland, a partner in the National Geographic project, contacted him to say part of the codex was missing and probably in Ferrini's possession.

Haley invited the lawyer and National Geographic to view the material in February. National Geographic photographer Kenneth Garrett -- the same person who shot the King Tut exhumation for the society last year -- photographed both sides of every fragment. He was assisted by a document-handling expert from Switzerland.

Ferrini's lawyer said Nussberger-Tchacos signed a document in 2001 saying the material had been returned, and questions her credibility, pointing out that she was once detained by Italian authorities in connection with a smuggling case.

That's one reason Yale University officials passed up a chance to buy it after authenticating it immediately before she sold it to Ferrini.

Still, the National Geographic team has proclaimed the documents real.

Ferrini is "not saying they are or they're not," Laatsch responded. "They're from that era... and very well could be part of the Gospel of Judas -- or may not be."

Even if they are, he said, they were obtained in a different transaction and do not belong to Nussberger-Tchacos.

Codex's origins, future

The Gospel of Judas was written about 300 A.D. It is in Coptic, an ancient Egyptian language that uses modified Greek letters.

A codex is a book that consists of folded pages bound on one side. They were easier to manage than scrolls, and found favor with people writing scripture.

In 2009, the codex will be returned to Egypt, where it will be displayed at the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

Ferrini has successfully applied to have his bankruptcy dismissed, and now Haley will go about liquidating the collection through a receivership -- although he won't do anything with the Judas codex until the Swiss legal claim is resolved.

Ferrini made front-page news in 2002 when he pledged to donate $6.8 million to Kent State University, the largest gift in the school's history. But, as the school acknowledged in December, he never gave Kent any of that money.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or

Van Rijn adds:

Scissorhands Ferrini is claiming to have bought the remaining fragments of the Judas Gospel and Exodus from Paris based gentleman-dealer Guy Ladriere, bottom of the deck dealer Francois Antonovitch and Napoleon Bonaparte ;-).

We at the Institute of the Terminally Maladjusted foresaw Ferrini's BS cover up acquisition story; so we pulled the magic carpet on his Gospels and fables.

Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2004 09:49:48 EST
Subject: Re: Ferrini


Good morning,

I am today 70 years old, I don't know the man called Mr Bruce Ferrini
and I never sold any object to him in my 40 years career or in my life.

Best wishes.

François Antonovich

From: "Galerie Ratton-Ladriere" <>
Reply-To: <>
Date: Wed, 22 Dec 2004 10:55:44 +0430
To: "'michel van rijn'" <>
Subject: RE: Stolen Gnostic manuscripts

Dear Michel,

I am now travelling in the country and can't have directly a look on my mails so I asked my staff to print your photos and faxed them to me at my hôtel and had a look on yesterday late evening.

I can AFFIRM and CLAIM ( if it is "claimed" with the other part) I NEVER saw these fragments, never bought them and NEVER SOLD THEM TO Ferrini.

I don't know how this man can claim he bought them from me. I never deal with this kind of "coptic" fragments.

To complete, the two leaves I sold to Ferrini, coming from Antonovitch, were TWO painted miniatures on velum, representing two seated Apostles, of Byzantine type, something very classical, XIIth century, nothing to compare with the fragments you sent to me.

I hope these informations will help you and thank you for your mails.

Best regards.


Galerie Ratton-Ladriere
11, quai Voltaire - 75007 PARIS
Tel.: 33 (0)1 42 61 29 79 - Fax : 33 (0)1 42 56 00 72

[Email from James E. Ferrell] (15th April 2006)

James E. Ferrell has been in contact with me.  There have been rumours that Bruce Ferrini sold him some of the pages of the Exodus manuscript.  I asked him about these, and he kindly gave me permission to upload his response:

Dear Mr. Pearse, I am afraid I have no knowledge of these items. In fact I had never heard of them until reading about them in the book. ... You can only hope that all the notoriety surrounding the Judas Gospel will bring someone forward. I wish you all the best in your search. J. Ferrell

[From Mario Roberty] (14th April 2006)

I've heard from Mario Roberty of the Maecenas Foundation.  He confirms that the Foundation only holds the codex Tchacos, and not the Exodus or Letters of Paul.  He adds:

Our plan was to publish the critical (scientific) edition of the whole Codex first or at least simultaneously with the two publications now presented by the National Geographical Society. The reason why this didn't happen was that during the last few weeks we obtained access to some important fragments Ferrini had sold and others that are now in the hands of the Receiver in Ferrini's bankruptcy case. It would be a pity not to include the info contained in these fragments in the scholarly publication which will therefore be a few months late and published this summer. Due to Robinson's ... book ..., we were forced to start going public with what we had ready.

I don't think that any of us will care about a six month delay; after all, what else could they do?  But it is good news that Roberty &c are hot on the trail of the material dispersed by Bruce Ferrini.

[From " - National Geographic].  More on how the Gospel of Judas got to us. (14th April 2006) By Andrew Cockburn. (Excerpts)

The documents survived unmolested through centuries of war and upheaval. They remained unread until early May 1983, when Stephen Emmel, a graduate student working in Rome, got a call from a fellow scholar, who wanted him to travel to Switzerland and check on some Coptic documents on offer from a mysterious source. In Geneva, Emmel and two colleagues were directed to a hotel room where they were met by two men—an Egyptian who spoke no English and a Greek who translated.

"We were given about half an hour to look into what were effectively three shoe boxes. Inside were papyri wrapped in newspaper," says Emmel. "We weren't allowed to take photographs or make any notes." The papyrus was already beginning to crumble, so he did not dare touch it by hand. Kneeling beside the bed, he gingerly lifted some of the leaves with tweezers and spotted the name Judas. He mistakenly assumed the name referred to Judas Thomas, another disciple, but he did understand that this was a totally unknown work of great significance.

One of Emmel's colleagues disappeared into the bathroom to negotiate a deal. Emmel was authorized to offer no more than $50,000; the sellers demanded three million dollars and not a penny less. "No way was anyone going to pay that money," says Emmel, now a professor at the University of Münster in Germany, who sadly recalls the papyrus as "beautiful" and laments its deterioration since the meeting. While the two sides lunched, he slipped away and frantically noted down everything he could remember. That was the last any scholar saw of the documents for the next 17 years.

According to the present owners of the Judas gospel, the Egyptian in that Geneva hotel room was a Cairo antiquities dealer named Hanna. He had bought the manuscript from a village trader who made his living scouting such material. Exactly where or how the trader had come across the collection is unclear. He is dead now, and his relatives in the Maghagha district, a hundred miles (160 kilometers) south of Cairo, become strangely reticent when challenged to reveal the site of the find.

Soon after Hanna acquired the manuscript and before he could take it overseas, his entire stock disappeared in a robbery. In Hanna's telling, the stolen goods were spirited out of the country and ended up in the hands of another dealer. Later Hanna succeeded in retrieving part of the hoard, including the gospel.

Once upon a time, few would question how a priceless antiquity left its host country. Any visitor could simply pick up artifacts and send them abroad. That is how great museums like the British Museum and the Louvre acquired many of their treasures. Today, antiquities-rich nations take a more proprietary attitude, banning private ownership and strictly controlling the export of their heritage. Respectable buyers such as museums try to ensure a legitimate provenance, or origin, for an artifact by establishing that it has not been stolen or illegally exported.

In early 1980, when the theft took place, Egypt had already made it illegal to possess unregistered antiquities or export them without a government license. It is not clear precisely how this law applies to the codex. But questions about its provenance have shadowed it ever since.

Hanna, however, was determined to get top dollar for it. The academics in Geneva confirmed through their excitement that it was indeed valuable, so he headed for New York to find a buyer with real money. The foray came to nothing, whereupon Hanna apparently lost heart and retired back to Cairo. Before he left New York, he rented a safe deposit box in a Citibank branch in Hicksville, Long Island, where he parked the codex and some other ancient papyri. There they remained, untouched and moldering, while Hanna intermittently tried to interest other buyers. His price, reportedly, was always too high.

Finally, in April 2000, he made a sale. The buyer was Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, an Egyptian-born Greek who had made her way to the top of the cutthroat antiquities business after studying Egyptology in Paris. She will not divulge what she paid, conceding only that a rumored figure of $300,000 is "wrong, but in the neighborhood." It occurred to her that the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University might be a possible buyer, so she deposited her wares with one of the library's manuscript experts, Professor Robert Babcock.

A few days later, as she was heading out of Manhattan to catch a flight to her home in Zürich, the professor phoned. His news was explosive, but it was his excitement, audible even on a cell phone in the din of Manhattan rush-hour traffic, that Frieda Tchacos remembers best. "He was saying, 'This is unbelievable material; I think it is the Gospel of Judas Iscariot,' but I really only heard the emotion vibrating in his voice." Only later, in the long hours over the dark Atlantic, did Tchacos begin to appreciate that she actually owned the fabled Gospel of Judas.

Greeks talk about moira—fate—and in the months that followed, Tchacos began to feel that her moira had become entangled in a terrible way with Judas, "like a curse " The Beinecke held on to the document for five months but then refused to bite, despite the vibrating Babcock, largely because of doubts about its provenance. So Tchacos turned from the Ivy League to Akron, Ohio, and an opera singer turned dealer in old manuscripts named Bruce Ferrini.

Her rejection by Yale had been disheartening, and the trip to Akron was a nightmare. "My flight from Kennedy was cancelled, so I had to fly from LaGuardia on a little plane. I had the material carefully packed in black boxes, but they wouldn't let me carry them into the cabin." Judas flew to Ohio in the hold. In return for Judas and other manuscripts, Ferrini gave Tchacos a sales contract with a Ferrini company called Nemo and two postdated checks for 1.25 million dollars each.

Ferrini did not return numerous phone calls seeking his version of the story. But people who saw the Judas manuscript while it was in his possession say that he shuffled the pages. "He wanted to make it look more complete," suggests Coptic expert Gregor Wurst, who is helping to restore it. More fragments were coming off.

Tchacos had begun having qualms about the deal within days of returning home. Her doubts increased when a friend named Mario Roberty pointed out that nemo is Latin for "no one."

Roberty, a quick-witted and engaging Swiss lawyer, knows the world of antiquities dealers and runs a foundation dedicated to ancient art. He was, he says, "fascinated" by Tchacos's story and happily agreed to help her reclaim Judas.

Ferrini's huge checks were due at the beginning of 2001. To help keep pressure on the Akron dealer, Roberty enlisted the antiquities trade's own weapon of mass destruction, a former dealer named Michel van Rijn. The London-based van Rijn runs a wide-ranging website that is totally uninhibited in flaying his many enemies in the antiquities world.

Briefed by Roberty, van Rijn broke the news of the gospel, adding that it was "in the claws of the 'multi-talented' manuscript dealer, Bruce P. Ferrini," who was in "deep financial troubles." In stark terms, he warned potential buyers: "You buy? You touch? You will be prosecuted!"

As Roberty cheerfully recounts, deploying van Rijn "worked, quite decisively." (More recently, van Rijn changed tack and began fiercely attacking Roberty and Tchacos on his site. "I think he's used up all his ammunition," says Roberty serenely.) In February 2001, Tchacos reclaimed the Judas codex and brought it to Switzerland, where, five months later, she met Kasser.

At that moment, she says, Judas turned from curse to blessing. As Kasser began painstakingly teasing the meaning of the codex from the fragments, Roberty embarked on an imaginative solution to the provenance problem: selling the translation and media rights while promising to return the original material to Egypt. Roberty's foundation, which now controls the manuscript, has signed an agreement with the National Geographic Society.

Relieved of her marketing concerns, Tchacos has herself begun to sound a little mystical. "Everything is predestined," she murmurs. "I was myself predestined by Judas to rehabilitate him."

On the edge of Lake Geneva, upstairs in an anonymous building, a specialist carefully manipulates a tiny scrap of papyrus into its proper place, and part of an ancient sentence is restored.

More rumours (14th April 2006)

I have today heard that the codex of the Greek Exodus, and the codex containing the Letters of Paul, were recovered by Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos from Bruce Ferrini, and are still in her possession.  It seems that Ferrini may have 'misappropriated' and sold leaves from some or all of these.

Rumours about the missing three codices! (13th April 2006)

I have been doing some digging, and emailing some of the people who might know something about the 3 missing codices, or have handled them.  The following comments have emerged.  As ever, while I am sure that everyone is sincere, not everyone may be accurately informed.  I have suppressed names in the interest of keeping the information flowing!  Here are a few quotes from various sources.

My first quotation is from someone who warned me that it was hearsay. But it's better informed hearsay than I have found elsewhere.

Everything except the so-called mathematical codex is in the hands of the Swiss foundation. Ferrini sold off the math codex in fragments, but I think most of it (I dare not say all) wound up in two collections, one a private collector in (I believe) Baltimore, the other the Lloyd Cotsen collection of children's literature in the Princeton University Library. It was a truly despicable act to break it up in this fashion.

Now some questions and answers from another, rather well-informed source: 

All the codices came together in the same hands in 1983, didn't they?

Yes. When Koenen, Freedman, and Emmel saw them, all four were in the possession of the same man.

If the other three have a separate origin, is anything known about it?

"It has been said" (by whom?) that all four were found together. But I am inclined to be skeptical about such a claim, unless there is irrefutable evidence for it. This question was not raised in 1983, and I have not read Herb Krosney's book to see what he has to report from his investigations into the provenance. 

Do you have any codicological details that you would be willing to share?

None at this juncture. For the Judas-Codex, wait for the critical edition that will appear within the next 6 months or so. For the others...?

I had not known that National Geographic were taking an interest in these other mss. Is that correct?

I believe so, but I do not know what the nature of the interest is.  Sorry. 

[From James M. Robinson] Some details on Codex Tchacos (13th April 2006)

Dr Robinson kindly sent me a mass of material which I will upload.  Here's the first bit!

The Codex Tchacos contains:

[From the New York Times (Free registration required)] How the Gospel of Judas Emerged. (April 13, 2006) By Barry Meier and John Noble Wilford. Elisabetta Povoledo contributed reporting from Rome for this article.

This interesting article raises questions of ownership and commercial issues about the codex which have been omitted.  But it adds the following details which clarify some of the relationships and name some of those involved. RP.

When the National Geographic Society announced to great fanfare last week that it had gained access to a 1,700-year-old document known as the Gospel of Judas, it described how a deteriorating manuscript, unearthed in Egypt three decades ago, had made its way through the shady alleys of the antiquities market to a safe-deposit box on Long Island and eventually to a Swiss art dealer (Frieda Tchacos Nussberger) who "rescued" it from obscurity. ... 

After she failed to profit from the sale of the gospel in the private market, she struck a deal with a foundation run by her lawyer that would let her make about as much as she would have made on that sale, or more. Later, the National Geographic Society paid the foundation to restore the manuscript and bought the rights to the text and the story about the discovery. As part of her arrangement with the foundation, the dealer, Frieda Tchacos Nussberger, stands to gain $1 million to $2 million from those National Geographic projects, her lawyer said. There may even be more.

According to National Geographic, (the manuscript) was found by farmers in an Egyptian cave in the 1970's, sold to a dealer and passed through various hands in Europe and the United States. ... 

Terry Garcia, the vice president for mission programs at National Geographic, which is based in Washington, said that the organization had "heard some rumors" about possible legal problems involving Ms. Tchacos Nussberger but could not confirm them.  For her part, Ms. Tchacos Nussberger rejected any suggestion that she was trying to profit from the Gospel of Judas. 

"I went through hell and back, and I saved something for humanity," Ms. Tchacos Nussberger said in a telephone interview. "I would have given it for nothing to someone who would have saved it."

(National Geographic) did not buy the document. Instead, it paid $1 million to the Maecenas Foundation, effectively for the manuscript's contents. Part of the revenues generated by the National Geographic projects go to the foundation. 

The foundation was set up some years ago by Ms. Tchacos Nussberger's lawyer, Mario Roberty, well before it became involved with the Gospel of Judas. Mr. Roberty is the only official of the foundation, which he said was involved in projects like returning antiquities to their countries of origin. He said that when Ms. Tchacos Nussberger turned over the document to the foundation in 2001, he quickly contacted officials in Egypt and assured them that the manuscript would be returned there. He said the foundation had clear legal title to the document.

In National Geographic's narratives, the manuscript takes a long journey through the antiquities trade. Those stories describe Ms. Tchacos Nussberger efforts to sell the Gospel of Judas privately soon after buying it and her subsequent role in its restoration. She is portrayed as driven by religious conviction to save the document.

"I think I was chosen by Judas to rehabilitate him," Ms. Tchacos Nussberger, 65, is quoted as saying in one of the society's books, "The Lost Gospel," by Herbert Krosney. Mr. Krosney is also an independent television producer who brought the gospel project to National Geographic. ...

According to National Geographic, she bought the Judas document for about $300,000 in 2000 from another dealer who had placed it in a safe-deposit box in Hicksville, N.Y., on Long Island. She tried to sell it to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Yale officials have not specified why they did not buy the document. But Robert Babcock, curator of early books at the library, said through a spokeswoman that "there were unresolved questions about the provenance."

Then in 2001, Ms. Tchacos Nussberger sold it to an antiquities dealer in Ohio (i.e. Bruce Ferrini -- RP) for $2.5 million, but the deal fell apart when the dealer did not make good on the payments.

Aided by her lawyer, Mr. Roberty, she regained ownership of the document and at his suggestion turned it over to the Maecenas Foundation. Under the deal, she is entitled to receive a sum from revenues generated by the Gospel of Judas essentially equivalent to what she would have received from the Ohio dealer, minus the value of several pages of the manuscript that dealer bought. In addition, she is entitled to get back about $800,000 she lent to the foundation for expenses like legal costs and early restoration efforts, Mr. Roberty said. Mr. Roberty said the foundation had already started paying money to the dealer, but he declined to say how much she had received to date.

Other texts 'in separate codices'. (13th April 2006)

I have been corresponding with various people who tell me that the following texts were each in separate manuscripts:

- the 'Book of Exodus' in Greek
- 'Letters of Paul' in Sahidic dialect and a
- 'Mathematical Treatise' in Greek.

Also that they do not come from the same find site as the codex containing the ps.Gospel of Judas.

[From Michel van Rijn's site] Gospel Ms. repatriated? (12th April 2006)

Ever on top of the news, Michel has today added to his site the following press release, with the qualification that M. Roberty has denied it:

MvR doesn't vouch for the accuracy of this French press release, mais on sais jamais! ... Mario Roberty denies the news and claims to have still physical possession of the Gospel... Who is right? ... 

Agence France Presse

L'Egypte récupère "l'Evangile selon Judas" (English translation below)

LE CAIRE, 12 avr 2006 (AFP) - L'Egypte a récupéré un manuscrit en papyrus datant du IIIe ou IVe siècle et contenant la seule copie connue de l'Evangile selon Judas, l'apôtre qui a trahi Jésus, a annoncé jeudi le Conseil supérieur des antiquités égyptiennes (CSAE).
"L'Egypte a réussi à récupérer le manuscrit de 13 feuilles de papyrus en langue copte ancienne", a déclaré le secrétaire général du CSAE, Zahi Hawwas, dans un communiqué.

Jeudi, le National Geographic a annoncé que le document avait été authentifié comme étant l'Evangile selon Judas.

"Le manuscrit, perdu pendant près de 1.700 ans, a été authentifié comme étant le travail de la littérature apocryphe des premiers chrétiens", a déclaré Terry Garcia, un des responsables de la revue américaine.

L'existence de cet Evangile avait été attestée par le premier évêque de Lyon, la capitale des Gaules (France), Saint Irénée, qui l'avait dénoncé dans un texte contre les hérésies vers le milieu du IIe siècle. Dans cet Evangile, Judas n'apparaît pas comme un traître mais comme un initié qui aurait dénoncé Jésus aux Romains, à la demande de ce dernier et pour la rédemption du monde.

Le document bordé de cuir a été découvert dans les années 1970 par un paysan égyptien dans le désert près d'Al-Minya (sud).

Il a ensuite circulé parmi les courtiers en antiquités pour se retrouver aux Etats-Unis, où il a été racheté en 2000 par l'antiquaire suisse Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, qui l'a confié à la fondation suisse Maecenas en 2001 afin de le préserver et de le traduire.

Le document, appelé "Codex de Tchacos", sera conservé au musée copte du Caire.

Egypt recovers "the Gospel according to Judas"

CAIRO, 12 avr 2006 (AFP) - Egypt recovered a papyrus manuscript dating from the III or IV century containing the only known copy of the Gospel according to Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was announced on Thursday by the higher Council of Egyptian antiquities (CSAE). "Egypt succeeded in recovering the manuscript of 13 sheets of papyrus in Coptic", declared the secretary-general of the CSAE, Zahi Hawass, in an official statement.

Thursday, the National Geographic announced that the document had been authenticated as being the Gospel according to Judas. "the manuscript, lost during nearly 1.700 years, was authenticated as being the work of the literature apocryphal book of the first Christians", declared Terry Garcia, one of the persons in charge for the American review.
The existence of this Gospel had been attested by the first bishop of Lyon, the capital of Gaules (France), Saint Ireneus, who had denounced it in a text against the heresies in the middle of the II century. In this Gospel, Judas does not appear as a traitor but as an initiate who would have denounced Jesus to the Romans, on the request of Jesus himself and for the redemption of the world. The document bound in leather was discovered in the years 1970 by an Egyptian peasant in the desert close to Al-Minya (southern). It then circulated among brokers in antiquities to surface in the United States, where the Swiss antique dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, who entrusted it to the Swiss foundation Maecenas in 2001 in order to preserve it and to translate it, repurchased it in 2000. The document, called "Codex Tchacos", will be preserved at the Coptic museum of Cairo.

[From National Geographic] Gospel of Judas Pages Endured Long, Strange Journey (12th April 2006) (Excerpts)

Modern Journeys of an Ancient Book

Exactly how the manuscripts were found in the late 1970s remains somewhat unclear. It is believed that a now dead Egyptian antiquities prospector discovered the codex, or ancient book, containing the Gospel of Judas near El Minya, Egypt. In 1978 he sold his find to a Cairo antiquities dealer named Hanna. Around 1980 the manuscripts and most of Hanna's other artifacts were stolen in a robbery and taken out of Egypt. Hanna later recovered the codex by coordinating with an antiquities trader in Geneva, Switzerland. Hanna was the first to show the codex to experts who recognized its possible significance. Yet he would search for over two decades for a buyer willing to meet his steep price.

In 1983 Stephen Emmel, then a graduate student living in Rome, Italy, received a phone call. Unknown antiquities dealers selling ancient manuscripts had approached one of Emmel's colleagues. Emmel and two other scholars agreed to meet the sellers in a Geneva hotel room. For half an hour the trio examined a collection of papyruses that were wrapped in newspaper and stored in shoe boxes. The scholars were forbidden to take photos or notes. Though Emmel and his colleagues quickly realized that the documents were both ancient and important, they did not know at that time that the codex contained the Gospel of Judas.

Emmel immediately noticed the damage that the fragile papyruses and leather binding had sustained—likely during the few years since their discovery. 

"When I saw the codex in 1983 it was fragile, but the 30 or so surviving leaves were still in pretty good condition," said Emmel, now a professor of Coptic studies at the University of Münster in Germany.

"If a papyrus conservator could have gone to work on it immediately, we would have had about 30 complete, or nearly complete, leaves, which would make some 60 pages of text," he said.

"As it is, every one of those leaves broke into pieces, and many fragments are now missing—most probably lost forever."

Hanna demanded three million U.S. dollars—far more than what Emmel and the other scholars could pay—and the meeting ended. The manuscripts once again vanished from scholarly view.

In 1984 the manuscripts' Egyptian owner again offered them for sale, this time in New York City. Finding no takers, Hanna deposited them in a bank safe-deposit box in Hicksville, New York.

The codex languished there for some 16 years.

Gospel Emerges From Modern Seclusion

Finally, Zürich, Switzerland-based antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos bought the codex in April 2000—though its full contents remained a mystery.

Tchacos turned the documents over to experts at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for examination and possible sale.

Yale papyrus expert Robert Babcock discovered the startling truth—Tchacos held the Gospel of Judas, previously known only from mentions in texts like those by St. Irenaeus. But Yale passed on purchasing the gospel because of concerns about its provenance.

Tchacos endured another failed sale attempt later that year, this time to U.S. dealer Bruce Ferrini. Ferrini took possession of the gospel in return for two postdated checks. In the following months Tchacos became increasingly convinced that Ferrini did not have sufficient funds and engaged several prominent antiquities dealers to pressure Ferrini to return the codex to her.

Finally, Tchacos transferred the codex to the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, based in Basel, Switzerland. The foundation later teamed with the Washington, D.C.-based National Geographic Society and the La Jolla, California-based Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery to restore, translate and publish the gospel. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.) Pages of the gospel were unveiled at National Geographic headquarters today and will go on public view tomorrow at the National Geographic Museum. All pages will eventually be returned to Egypt and housed permanently in Cairo's Coptic Museum. ...

Leap of Faith

Though authentic, the codex's condition is alarmingly poor, having deteriorated badly since Emmel's 1983 inspection. By the time the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art called in Kasser and other experts to examine the codex, its leather binding had come undone. The ancient papyrus pages had been scattered into nearly a thousand fragments that crumbled at even the slightest touch. In places the pages were so blackened that the handwritten Coptic script was illegible. The sheets had also been reorganized in a random pattern—possibly to boost buyer appeal by putting better pages on top. The original page order was lost.

"Our codex—clearly in such a fragile state that no researcher in his right mind would dare touch it in order to consult it—looked as if it were to ready to crumble, squeezed at the bottom of a box whose dimensions were barely larger that those of the manuscript itself," Kasser recalled.

Yet a team of expert preservationists became detectives to reconstruct the Gospel of Judas and the codex's other writings: a text titled James (also known as First Apocalypse of James), a Letter of Peter to Philip, and a fragment of a fourth text scholars are provisionally calling the Book of Allogenes.

"It took a leap of faith, sustained by hope, with no guarantee of success, yet there was a probability of success. ... It was worth trying," Kasser said.

Aided by a computer program, restoration expert Florence Darbre and Coptic scholar Gregor Wurst, were able to painstakingly reconstruct most of the manuscript, fragment by fragment, over a period of five years.

"We soon realized that the decision had been a good one," Kasser said.

"Restored and put under glass, the folios could be gingerly handled, and it was possible to photograph all the pages," he said. "Those pages could be photographed, studied, read, transcribed, and translated."

Incredibly, the team was able to recreate some 90 to 95 percent of the manuscript and produce a nearly complete translation. Some sections may be forever lost, due to holes in the original papyruses, but scholars hope to fill them in as they finish their herculean task—an additional half page recently surfaced in New York City.

Other parts of the find sold and broken up (11th April 2006)

For some time I have been trying to track down the other texts in the find.  

- the 'Book of Exodus' in Greek
- 'Letters of Paul' in Sahidic dialect and a
- 'Mathematical Treatise' in Greek.

Yesterday I wrote to Michel van Rijn, asking if he knew how to contact Bruce Ferrini, the last known owner.  Michel kindly replied, and allowed me to reproduce this comment:

Thanks your email. Ferrini is keeping himself unreachable... Yes Ferrini sold pages of the Judas, Exodus and mathematical treatise.

Pages of the Exodus were sold to James E. Ferrell and are now part of the Ink and Blood traveling exhibition... The mathematical treatise was sold by Ferrini together with Sam Fogg, London, to Lord Thomson of Fleet, Canada.

And Getty sponsor, Lloyd Cotsen, bought several pages. Judas?

Little of this is good news, although if Lord Thomson has one of the texts, at least that is a safe and secure home for it.  But for the others, I can imagine a codex which has been reduced to a pile of fragments, of which saleable leaves are being sold, and the remainder, no doubt, thrown away.  Can nothing be done to stop this destruction? -- RP.  Postscript, 13th April: Sam Fogg tells me that he knows of no such transaction, and doesn't believe Lord Thomson has such a item.

Robert Kraft has noted down information about Ferrini selling papyri on Ebay.

An image from CBS news of a page with a crux ansata at the bottom:

[From] Gospel of Judas: Authentic Fraud (9th April 2006)

An article by Jon Christian Ryter contains various interesting details, and sensible comments on attempts to misrepresent the text. Excerpts:

The publishing rights of the recently found "lost" gospel of Judas Iscariot----which was converted into a made-for-TV spectacular on Sunday, April 9 on the National Geographic Channel----was secured by the National Geographic Society for a contribution to the manuscript's owner----the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art----purported to be more than $1 million to date. (The money was contributed by Gateway Computer founder Ted Waitt.) The Society has now embarked on a concerted effort to mainstream the apocryphal 3rd, 4th or 5th century AD papyrus manuscript as the legitimate diary of Judas Iscariot. The Gospel of Judas suggests that Judas was instructed by Christ to betray Him to the Sanhedrin so that His death would fulfill the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.

The Society plans several magazine articles, television specials and, they said, book deals as the controversy over the ethics of accepting ancient acquisitions on their own merit heats up in the media. ...

James M. Robinson, professor emeritus at Claremont Graduate University, America's leading expert on ancient religious texts from Egypt, said that while the codex is old, it simply isn't old enough. "Does it go back to Judas? No." Robinson told the Associated Press. "There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth- century gospels attributed to various apostles. We don't really assume they give us any first century information."

In his new book, The Secrets of Judas (Harper-SanFrancisco), Robinson describes the secret maneuvering between Mario Jean Roberty, the Swiss lawyer who founded the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, his client, Frieda Nussberger-Tchakos who bought the codex in 1999 for $300 thousand, Michael van Rijn----an art dealer, confidence man, smuggler, forger and author of an expose on art antiquities, Hot Art, Cold Cash; and two other key players----Ali and Hicham Aboutaam who are the two most notorious cultural heritage thieves in the world. Robinson's book deals with a two decade sales pitch by Roberty----first to buy, and then to sell the content of the Judas manuscript. The asking price was $10 million, but Roberty let it be known that the right buyer could steal it for $3 million.

However, the Maecenas Foundation was not allowed to sell the document under a Swiss law that forbids the sale of illegal antiquities. In other words, the "ownership pedigree"----the legal chain of ownership----of the codex has not been clearly established. Since Roberty cannot legally sell the codex he did the next best thing, he's selling the content. According to Roberty, he bought the codex from Tchakos in 2001 for $1.5 million and 50% the proceeds from the sale of its content. Roberty claims to have already spent more than $1 million on its restoration. Roberty may have found the fund-raisers best scheme and the National Geographic Society has the credibility to give the pseudepigraphic document the aura of authenticity it has thus far lacked....

The Coptic Orthodox Church has dismissed the codex as non-Christian babbling resulting from a group of people trying to create a false 'amalgam' between Greek mythology, the Far East religions and Christianity. The codex was written by a group of people who were alien to the main Christian stream of early Christianity. "The texts," Metropolitan Bishoy, the theological leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. said. "are neither reliable nor accurate Christian texts, as they are historically and logically alien to the main Christian thinking, and philosophy of the early and present Christians."

[From the website of Michel van Rijn] Most of the Judas Gospel has 'disappeared' (5th April 2006)

The National Geographic much hyped documentary shows only a meagre thirteen pages, with text on both sides! When the Judas Gospel was first on the market in 1983 in Geneva, and seen by eminent American Coptologist, Stephen Emmel, he declared that he had inspected sixty pages of text of the Judas Gospel.

According to Akron based manuscript magician, 'now you see it, now you don't', Bruce Ferrini, there were only twenty-five pages with text on both sides left, when he 'bought' it from Frieda Tchacos.

Frieda, who in the documentary claims to be the saviour of mankind, modestly stating to be the chosen one to 'save' the gospel for prosperity, forgets to mention that instead of going for a Sainthood, she was marketing the manuscript for $1.5 million to Ferrini, immediately after she bought it in April 2000.

Your inkslingers exposure on my website of the coven 'owning' the Judas Gospel and simultaneously shedding light on the true provenance, proving that it was stolen and smuggled from Egypt, made the Gospel a hot potato and forced the fence-conspirators to make a deal with the Egyptian authorities for its return in exchange of having the right to publish and restore the Gospel.

The conspirators are still hoping to make a fortune out of the intellectual rights, while most of the Judas Gospel has been already revealed, free of charge, on

Bruce 'Scissorhands' Ferrini, who is widely suspected of having seriously shortened the Gospel, exhibited one page without identifying it as coming from the Judas Gospel in his exhibition "From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book" in 2005.

In the anaesthetic one and an half hour documentary it is claimed that 85% of the entire Judas Gospel is complete... 

Pages of manuscripts online, plus a couple of other images

National Geographic have placed an online viewer application which allows you to look at and zoom in on selected pages of the manuscript at "".

They have also uploaded the following other images:

In Tatters - Photograph by Kenneth Garrett

Lost for nearly 1,700 years, the Gospel of Judas came to light within an ancient, crumbling, leather-bound papyrus manuscript that was discovered in Middle Egypt during the 1970s and bought in 2000 by a Zürich antiquities dealer....  

Sacrificing a bit of the manuscript for science, conservator Florence Darbre cuts away a tiny sample of papyrus for Tim Jull of the University of Arizona, at right, who tested its age using carbon-14 dating. Results indicate the papyrus dates to A.D. 280, plus or minus 60 years.

The second page of the Gospel of Judas presents a dramatically different retelling of a final meal Jesus shared with his disciples. "When he [approached] his disciples, [who had] gathered together and [were] seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed," reads the manuscript.

English Translation

This is the text placed online at the New York Times site.  It was originally referred to as an extract.  The Coptic text and English translation in PDF form were at "".


Translated by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst, in collaboration with François Gaudard


The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week three days before he celebrated Passover.


When Jesus appeared on earth, he performed miracles and great wonders for the salvation of humanity. And since some [walked] in the way of righteousness while others walked in their transgressions, the twelve disciples were called. 

He began to speak with them about the mysteries beyond the world and what would take place at the end. Often he did not appear to his disciples as himself, but he was found among them as a child.

SCENE 1: Jesus dialogues with his disciples: The prayer of thanksgiving or the eucharist

One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When he [approached] his disciples, [34] gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed. 

The disciples said to [him], "Master, why are you laughing at [our] prayer of thanksgiving? We have done what is right." 

He answered and said to them, "I am not laughing at you. <You> are not doing this because of your own will but because it is through this that your god [will be] praised." 

They said, "Master, you are [...] the son of our god." 

Jesus said to them, "How do you know me? Truly [I] say to you, no generation of the people that are among you will know me."


When his disciples heard this, they started getting angry and infuriated and began blaspheming against him in their hearts.

When Jesus observed their lack of [understanding, he said] to them, "Why has this agitation led you to anger? Your god who is within you and [...] [35] have provoked you to anger [within] your souls. [Let] any one of you who is [strong enough] among human beings bring out the perfect human and stand before my face."

They all said, "We have the strength."

But their spirits did not dare to stand before [him], except for Judas Iscariot. He was able to stand before him, but he could not look him in the eyes, and he turned his face away.

Judas [said] to him, "I know who you are and where you have come from. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo. And I am not worthy to utter the name of the one who has sent you."


Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him, "Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal. [36] For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve [disciples] may again come to completion with their god."

Judas said to him, "When will you tell me these things, and [when] will the great day of light dawn for the generation?"

But when he said this, Jesus left him.

SCENE 2: Jesus appears to the disciples again

The next morning, after this happened, Jesus [appeared] to his disciples again.

They said to him, "Master, where did you go and what did you do when you left us?"

Jesus said to them, "I went to another great and holy generation."

His disciples said to him, "Lord, what is the great generation that is superior to us and holier than us, that is not now in these realms?"

When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to them, "Why are you thinking in your hearts about the strong and holy generation? [37] Truly [I] say to you, no one born [of] this aeon will see that [generation], and no host of angels of the stars will rule over that generation, and no person of mortal birth can associate with it, because that generation does not come from [...] which has become [...]. The generation of people among [you] is from the generation of humanity [...] power, which [... the] other powers [...] by [which] you rule."

When [his] disciples heard this, they each were troubled in spirit. They could not say a word.

Another day Jesus came up to [them]. They said to [him], "Master, we have seen you in a [vision], for we have had great [dreams ...] night [...]."

[He said], "Why have [you ... when] <you> have gone into hiding?" [38]


They [said, "We have seen] a great [house with a large] altar [in it, and] twelve men----they are the priests, we would say----and a name; and a crowd of people is waiting at that altar, [until] the priests [... and receive] the offerings. [But] we kept waiting."

[Jesus said], "What are [the priests] like?"

They [said, "Some ...] two weeks; [some] sacrifice their own children, others their wives, in praise [and] humility with each other; some sleep with men; some are involved in [slaughter]; some commit a multitude of sins and deeds of lawlessness. And the men who stand [before] the altar invoke your [name], [39] and in all the deeds of their deficiency, the sacrifices are brought to completion [...]."

After they said this, they were quiet, for they were troubled.


Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled? Truly I say to you, all the priests who stand before that altar invoke my name. Again I say to you, my name has been written on this [...] of the generations of the stars through the human generations. [And they] have planted trees without fruit, in my name, in a shameful manner."

Jesus said to them, "Those you have seen receiving the offerings at the altar----that is who you are. That is the god you serve, and you are those twelve men you have seen. The cattle you have seen brought for sacrifice are the many people you lead astray [40] before that altar. [...] will stand and make use of my name in this way, and generations of the pious will remain loyal to him. After hi another man will stand there from [the fornicators], and another [will] stand there from the slayers of children, and another from those who sleep with men, and those who abstain, and the rest of the people of pollution and lawlessness and error, and those who say, 'We are like angels'; they are the stars that bring everything to its conclusion. For to the human generations it has been said, 'Look, God has received your sacrifice from the hands of a priest'----that is, a minister of error.

But it is the Lord, the Lord of the universe, who commands, 'On the last day they will be put to shame.'" [41]

Jesus said [to them], "Stop sac[rificing ...] which you have [...] over the altar, since they are over your stars and your angels and have already come to their conclusion there. So let them be [ensnared] before you, and let them go [----about 15 lines missing----] generations [...]. A baker cannot feed all creation [42] under [heaven]. And [...] to them [...] and [...] to us and [...].

Jesus said to them, "Stop struggling with me. Each of you has his own star, and every[body----about 17 lines missing----] [43] in [...] who has come [... spring] for the tree [...] of this aeon [...] for a time [...] but he has come to water God's paradise, and the [generation] that will last, because [he] will not defile the [walk of life of] that generation, but [...] for all eternity."


Judas said to [him, "Rabb]i, what kind of fruit does this generation produce?"

Jesus said, "The souls of every human generation will die. When these people, however, have completed the time of the kingdom and the spirit leaves them, their bodies will die but their souls will be alive, and they will be taken up."

Judas said, "And what will the rest of the human generations do?"

Jesus said, "It is impossible [44] to sow seed on [rock] and harvest its fruit. [This] is also the way [...] the [defiled] generation [...] and corruptible Sophia [...] the hand that has created mortal people, so that their souls go up to the eternal realms above. [Truly] I say to you, [...] angel [...] power will be able to see that [...] these to whom [...] holy generations [...]."

After Jesus said this, he departed.

SCENE 3: Judas recounts a vision and Jesus responds

Judas said, "Master, as you have listened to all of them, now also listen to me. For I have seen a great vision."

When Jesus heard this, he laughed and said to him, "You thirteenth spirit, why do you try so hard? But speak up, and I shall bear with you."

Judas said to him, "In the vision I saw myself as the twelve disciples were stoning me and [45] persecuting [me severely]. And I also came to the place where [...] after you. I saw [a house ...], and my eyes could not [comprehend] its size. Great people were surrounding it, and that house <had> a roof of greenery, and in the middle of the house was [a crowd----two lines missing----], saying, 'Master, take me in along with these people.'"

[Jesus] answered and said, "Judas, your star has led you astray." He continued, "No person of mortal birth is worthy to enter the house you have seen, for that place is reserved for the holy. Neither the sun nor the moon will rule there, nor the day, but the holy will abide there always, in the eternal realm with the holy angels. Look, I have explained to you the mysteries of the kingdom [46] and I have taught you about the error of the stars; and [...] send it [...] on the twelve aeons."


Judas said, "Master, could it be that my seed is under the control of the rulers?"

Jesus answered and said to him, "Come, that I [----two lines missing----], but that you will grieve much when you see the kingdom and all its generation."

When he heard this, Judas said to him, "What good is it that I have received it? For you have set me apart for that generation."

Jesus answered and said, "You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the other generations----and you will come to rule over them. In the last days they will curse your ascent [47] to the holy [generation]."


Jesus said, "[Come], that I may teach you about [secrets] no person [has] ever seen. For there exists a great and boundless realm, whose extent no generation of angels has seen, [in which] there is [a] great invisible [Spirit], which no eye of an angel has ever seen, no thought of the heart has ever comprehended, and it was never called by any name.

"And a luminous cloud appeared there. He said, 'Let an angel come into being as my attendant.'

"A great angel, the enlightened divine Self-Generated, emerged from the cloud. Because of him, four other angels came into being from another cloud, and they became attendants for the angelic Self-Generated. The Self-Generated said, [48] 'Let [...] come into being [...],' and it came into being [...]. And he [created] the first luminary to reign over him. He said, 'Let angels come into being to serve [him],' and myriads without number came into being. He said, '[Let] an enlightened aeon come into being,' and he came into being. He created the second luminary [to] reign over him, together with myriads of angels without number, to offer service. That is how he created the rest of the enlightened aeons. He made them reign over them, and he created for them myriads of angels without number, to assist them.


"Adamas was in the first luminous cloud that no angel has ever seen among all those called 'God.' He [49] [...] that [...] the image [...] and after the likeness of [this] angel. He made the incorruptible [generation] of Seth appear [...] the twelve [...] the twentyfour [...]. He made seventy-two luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit. The seventy-two luminaries themselves made three hundred sixty luminaries appear in the incorruptible generation, in accordance with the will of the Spirit, that their number should be five for each.

"The twelve aeons of the twelve luminaries constitute their father, with six heavens for each aeon, so that there are seventy-two heavens for the seventy-two luminaries, and for each [50] [of them five] firmaments, [for a total of] three hundred sixty [firmaments ...]. They were given authority and a [great] host of angels [without number], for glory and adoration, [and after that also] virgin spirits, for glory and [adoration] of all the aeons and the heavens and their firmaments.


"The multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos---- that is, perdition----by the Father and the seventy-two luminaries who are with the Self-Generated and his seventytwo aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon that appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the angel, is called [51] El. [...] aeon [...] after that [...] said, 'Let twelve angels come into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld].' And look, from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His name was Nebro, which means 'rebel'; others call him Yaldabaoth. Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels----as well as Saklas----to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one receiving a portion in the heavens.


"The twelve rulers spoke with the twelve angels: 'Let each of you [52] [...] and let them [...] generation [----one line lost----] angels': The first is [S]eth, who is called Christ.

The [second] is Harmathoth, who is [...].

The [third] is Galila.

The fourth is Yobel.

The fifth [is] Adonaios.

These are the five who ruled over the underworld, and first of all over chaos.


"Then Saklas said to his angels, 'Let us create a human being after the likeness and after the image.' They fashioned Adam and his wife Eve, who is called, in the cloud, Zoe. For by this name all the generations seek the man, and each of them calls the woman by these names. Now, Sakla did not [53] com[mand ...] except [...] the gene[rations ...] this [...]. And the [ruler] said to Adam, 'You shall live long, with your children.'"


Judas said to Jesus, "[What] is the long duration of time that the human being will live?"

Jesus said, "Why are you wondering about this, that Adam, with his generation, has lived his span of life in the place where he has received his kingdom, with longevity with his ruler?"

Judas said to Jesus, "Does the human spirit die?"

Jesus said, "This is why God ordered Michael to give the spirits of people to them as a loan, so that they might offer service, but the Great One ordered Gabriel to grant spirits to the great generation with no ruler over it----that is, the spirit and the soul. Therefore, the [rest] of the souls [54] [----one line missing----].


"[...] light [----nearly two lines missing----] around [...] let [...] spirit [that is] within you dwell in this [flesh] among the generations of angels. But God caused knowledge to be [given] to Adam and those with him, so that the kings of chaos and the underworld might not lord it over them."

Judas said to Jesus, "So what will those generations do?"

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, for all of them the stars bring matters to completion. When Saklas completes the span of time assigned for him, their first star will appear with the generations, and they will finish what they said they would do. Then they will fornicate in my name and slay their children [55] and they will [...] and [----about six and a half lines missing----] my name, and he will [...] your star over the [thir]teenth aeon."

After that Jesus [laughed].

[Judas said], "Master, [why are you laughing at us]?"

[Jesus] answered [and said], "I am not laughing [at you] but at the error of the stars, because these six stars wander about with these five combatants, and they all will be destroyed along with their creatures."


Judas said to Jesus, "Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?" 

Jesus said, "Truly I say [to you], this baptism [56] [...] my name [----about nine lines missing----] to me. Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas [...] God [----three lines missing----] everything that is evil.

"But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me. Already your horn has been raised, your wrath has been kindled, your star has shown brightly, and your heart has [...]. [57]

"Truly [...] your last [...] become [----about two and a half lines missing----], grieve [----about two lines missing----] the ruler, since he will be destroyed. And then the image of the great generation of Adam will be exalted, for prior to heaven, earth, and the angels, that generation, which is from the eternal realms, exists. Look, you have been told everything. Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star."

Judas lifted up his eyes and saw the luminous cloud, and he entered it. Those standing on the ground heard a voice coming from the cloud, saying, [58] [...] great generation [...] ... image [...] [----about five lines missing----].


[...] Their high priests murmured because [he] had gone into the guest room for his prayer. But some scribes were there watching carefully in order to arrest him during the prayer, for they were afraid of the people, since he was regarded by all as a prophet. They approached Judas and said to him, "What are you doing here? You are Jesus' disciple."

Judas answered them as they wished. And he received some money and handed him over to them.


[From the Washington Post], 7th April 2006

(This article clarifies much about the transfers of money that surrounded the manuscript most recently, and who will profit from it. RP.)

Newly Translated Gospel Offers More Positive Portrayal of Judas

By Guy Gugliotta and Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Staff Writers. Friday, April 7, 2006; Page A01


Researchers stand at caves in the area north and east of El Minya, 
Egypt, near where the manuscript containing the "Gospel of Judas" was found.

The National Geographic Society released yesterday the first modern translation of the ancient Gospel of Judas, which depicts the most reviled villain in Christian history as a devoted follower who was simply doing Jesus's bidding when he betrayed him.

The text's existence has been known since it was denounced as heresy by the bishop of Lyon in A.D. 180, but its contents had remained an almost total mystery. Unlike the four gospels of the New Testament, it describes conversations between Jesus and Judas Iscariot during the week before Passover in which Jesus tells Judas "secrets no other person has ever seen."

The other apostles pray to a lesser God, Jesus says, and he reveals to Judas the "mysteries of the kingdom" of the true God. He asks Judas to help him return to the kingdom, but to do so, Judas must help him abandon his mortal flesh: "You will sacrifice the man that clothes me," Jesus tells Judas, and acknowledges that Judas "will be cursed by the other generations."

Scholars said the 26-page document was written on 13 sheets of papyrus leaf in ancient Egyptian, or Coptic, and was bound as a book known as a codex. It is one of dozens of sacred texts from the Christian Gnostics, who believed that salvation came through secret knowledge conveyed by Jesus.

Its anonymous author was "obviously a Christian person very sympathetic to a Gnostic point of view," said Coptic scholar Marvin Meyer, of Orange, Calif.'s Chapman University. The codex was written in the 2nd century, when various groups of Christians circulated what they called gospels -- "good news" -- purportedly written by most of the disciples and several other followers of Jesus, among them Mary Magdalene.

Most were outlawed during a centuries-long battle to determine which sacred texts would make up the canon of Christian orthodoxy known today as the New Testament.

National Geographic, which funded much of the research, said it authenticated the codex through radiocarbon dating, ink analysis and study of the script. And despite the document's murky history, no scholar has suggested it is a forgery, a problem that has dogged several recent finds, most notably the bone box, or ossuary, purported to have contained the remains of Jesus's brother James.

As an authentic ancient Gnostic text, the Gospel of Judas is certain to spark a surge of interest by both theologians and the faithful, but scholars said it is unclear whether it will prompt a reevaluation of the traitor denounced by Matthew for betraying Jesus for "30 pieces of silver."

"At one level, the Gospels already see the betrayal as a mysterious part of God's plan," said the Rev. Donald Senior, president of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He predicted the new text would produce "a short-term sensation" but that after Christians read it, "the impact on the lives of ordinary believers will be minimal."

The ancient manuscript, a 3rd- or 4th-century translation of a 2nd-century original, probably written in Greek, was unearthed by looters near El Minya, Egypt, in the 1970s. It came to the attention of scholars in 1983 when an Egyptian antiquities dealer tried to sell it to American researchers for $3 million.

After the document passed through several hands and venues, including 16 years deteriorating in a safe deposit box in Hicksville, N.Y., National Geographic reached an agreement in 2004 to help finance its authentication and translation in return for publication rights.

Terry Garcia, National Geographic's executive vice president for mission programs, said at a news conference that the society had contributed "more than $1 million" to the project so far. The organization released two books yesterday: an annotated translation and the story of how the text came to light. The gospel will also generate a magazine cover article, a television documentary, an exhibit and its own Web site.

The arrangement between National Geographic and the Switzerland-based Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, the manuscript's current owner, raised long-standing questions about how such transactions may effectively legitimize illegal traffic in antiquities.

"The Swiss who bought it couldn't sell it for a profit because of laws that say you can't sell illegal antiquities," said Claremont Graduate University theologian James M. Robinson, the Coptic scholar first approached to purchase the gospel 26 years ago. "Instead of selling the papyrus, they decided to market the contents." The foundation said it intends to donate the codex to the Coptic Museum in Cairo once it is fully restored.

Ted Waitt, founder of computer-maker Gateway Inc., donated approximately $1 million to underwrite National Geographic's efforts. National Geographic, in turn, passed this money on to Mario Jean Roberty, a Swiss lawyer who heads the Maecenas Foundation.

Roberty said in an interview that he purchased the codex in February 2001 from a Swiss antiquities dealer, Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, for $1.5 million plus half of all future proceeds from the document.

He said he also put more than $1 million into the initial restoration of the manuscript, underwriting the efforts of Coptic scholar Rodolphe Kasser and others for five years to piece together more than 1,000 papyrus fragments before National Geographic got involved. "I'm still on the nervous side economically," Roberty said. "I have to take in another $2.3 million before I break even."

So far, the biggest financial beneficiary appears to be Nussberger-Tchacos, who paid about $300,000 for the codex, according to National Geographic, which is poised to generate substantial revenue from its publications. Garcia said Maecenas would receive "some compensation" from book sales.

"They have to earn back their money, and they're trying to sell their books on all sides," Robinson said of National Geographic. "That's why they're publishing it around Easter and before the release of 'The Da Vinci Code,' " he added, referring to the film version of the popular book.

But Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, said that because of National Geographic, "at least the text seems to be becoming available, and that's good. The price is that they've had to be part of a scheme to increase its value."

Besides the Gospel of Judas, the codex includes three other texts. Two were known to scholars from the Nag Hammadi Library, a trove of Gnostic manuscripts found in Egypt in 1945. The third, provisionally titled the Book of Allogenes, or the "stranger," is badly fragmented, members of the translation team said.

Biblical scholars said the Gospel of Judas differs from the four New Testament Gospels in at least two important ways. First, it portrays Judas not as the betrayer of Jesus but as the most favored of his disciples, the only one who truly understood Jesus.

Some scholars suggested that view -- if it had been accepted -- might have lessened anti-Semitism over the centuries. "The story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas gave a moral and religious rationale to anti-Jewish sentiment, and that's what made it persistent and vicious," said Princeton University professor Elaine Pagels.

Second, the Gospel of Judas offers a new creation story, depicting the evil world as the product of a bloodthirsty, foolish lower deity, rather than the higher, true God. This duality "is why this gospel could never be accepted by orthodox Christianity," said Bart D. Ehrman, chairman of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Scholars disagreed on whether the gospel sheds any new light on the historical Jesus and Judas Iscariot. Senior, the Catholic priest, said he saw "no evidence that it has a legitimate historical basis" and thought it probably was written by Gnostics who retrospectively attributed their own beliefs to Judas.

But Craig Evans, a professor at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, said the New Testament also may hint at the new text's central theme -- that Jesus instructed Judas in private to betray him.

In the Book of John, Evans noted, Jesus tells Judas at the Last Supper, "Do quickly what you are going to do," and none of the other disciples know what he means. Maybe the Gospel of Judas "points us in a direction where we can understand Judas's relationship to Jesus a little better," he said.

The Gospel of Judas, however, ends abruptly, drawing no conclusions about the consequences of betrayal: The arresting party "approached Judas and said to him, 'What are you doing here? You are Jesus' disciple.' Judas answered them as they wished. And he received some money and handed him over to them."

Publication, 6th April 2006

I have today heard from Dr Mario Roberty of the Maecenas Foundation who own the manuscript:

Today, April 6, 2006 starting 10:30 EST or 16:30 Swiss time, the press conference at National Geographic's headquarters in Washington will be
transmitted live at:

On the pages next to it, you will also find the publication of related material, including a transcription and translation of the Gospel of Judas.

On looking at National Geographic's "lost gospel" page, I find that the Coptic text and the full English translation was available for download from "".  The full English text is also online at the NY Times here (although called 'extracts').

The English text is to be published in 

The Gospel of Judas. Edited by Rodolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst with Additional Commentary by Bart D. Ehrman. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2006. (ISBN 1-4262-0042-0, U.S.$22)

Further details from the site:

Codex Tchacos is named after Dimaratos Tchacos, father of Zürich-based antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos, who bought the document in September 2000.  

The codex contains not only the Gospel of Judas, but also a text titled James (otherwise known as the First Apocalypse of James), the Letter of Peter to Philip, and a fragment of a text that scholars are provisionally calling Book of Allogenes. 

The codex, containing the Gospel of Judas, was discovered in the 1970s near El Minya, Egypt, and moved from Egypt to Europe to the United States. Once in the United States, it was kept in a safe-deposit box for 16 years on Long Island, New York, until antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos bought it in April 2000. After two unsuccessful resale attempts, Nussberger-Tchacos----alarmed by the codex's rapidly deteriorating state----transferred it to the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art in Basel, Switzerland, in February 2001, for restoration and translation. The manuscript will be delivered to Egypt and housed in Cairo's Coptic Museum.

Several pages of the Gospel of Judas as well as pages from the other three texts in the codex will be on exhibit at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., beginning Friday, April 7, 2006, for a limited engagement. After Kasser and his team complete conserving and translating the manuscript, the codex will be given to Egypt, where it will be housed in Cairo's Coptic Museum.

Details of scientific examination -- radio carbon dating the papyri, multi-spectral imaging, paleography and ink analysis were here "", with images.  Key-points:

[From The Christian Century, 27 December 2005]

News: December 27, 2005: Long-lost Gospel of Judas to be published. by John Dart

The heresy-fighting bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, France, mentioned the Gospel of Judas about 180 AD, linking the writing to a Gnostic sect. Some two centuries later, Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, criticized the Gospel of Judas for treating the betrayer of Jesus as commendable, one who "performed a good work for our salvation."

Until recent years, no copy of the text was generally known to exist. It was not among, for instance, the 46 different apocryphal texts of the Nag Hammadi Library discovered 60 years ago this month in Egypt. Other fragmentary texts, such as the Gospel of Mary, were discovered well before that.

But in 2004, Rodolphe Kasser of the University of Geneva announced in Paris that by the end of 2005 he would be publishing translations of the Coptic-language version of the Gospel of Judas. As it turned out, the owner was a Swiss foundation, and the torn and tattered papyrus text had been hawked to potential buyers in North America and Europe for decades after it was found at Muhazafat Al Minya in Middle Egypt.

The "Judas" saga was confirmed in detail last month at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Philadelphia. Retired Claremont Graduate University professor James Robinson, general editor of the English edition of the Nag Hammadi Library, said he was first contacted in 1983 about negotiations to buy certain texts, including the Gospel of Judas. Many years later, he saw blurry photographs of part of the text.

Robinson said that early in November he learned that Kasser and several European, Canadian and U.S. scholars had signed agreements with the National Geographic Society to assist with a documentary film and a National Geographic article for an Easter 2006 release and a succession of three books.

Robinson was critical of the secrecy and inaccessibility surrounding the document----a recurring academic problem that delayed for decades the publishing of translations of some Dead Sea Scrolls and many Nag Hammadi codices. In his talk, Robinson called the practice "skullduggery"----with a glance at fellow panelist Marvin Meyer of Chapman University, a longtime colleague in the field and one of the contracted authors.

Meyer refused to describe the text's content, but he essentially confirmed the basic publishing arrangements to Robinson and to the Century at the Philadelphia meeting.

In amended remarks to his speech, Robinson said Meyer told him that he was sworn to secrecy----not by the document's owner but by the National Geographic Society, a procedure Meyer said was justified by the organization's large financial investment.

A spokeswoman for the National Geographic headquarters in Washington declined to comment. But Meyer said in a brief interview, "It will all be out for everyone to see by the spring." He added without elaboration, "It will be good. It will be good."

Hardly anything is known about the document's contents "other than a few personages" it names, said Robinson, identifying them as the mythological figure Allogenes (literally, "the stranger") known from some Nag Hammadi texts, and Satan, Jesus and Judas.

Another scholar, Charles Hedrick, who recently retired from Missouri State University, saw photographs of six damaged pages from the gospel in 2001. Hedrick agreed with Robinson that the original Gospel of Judas was probably written in Greek in the second century AD. Scholars also agree that the scribal hand used in the Coptic translation would date that text to the fourth or fifth century.

"I don't think it will unsettle the church," Hedrick said in an interview. "I mean we are not talking history here. We know very little about Judas from the New Testament, and some people have even challenged whether Judas was a historical person."

The Coptic texts, owned by the Maecenas Foundation, consist of 62 pages and also contain "The First Apocalypse of James" and "The Letter of Peter to Philip"----two texts also found at Nag Hammadi. How many of the 62 pages contain the Gospel of Judas has not been disclosed.

Hedrick said the last six pages of the Judas document describe a heavenly scene in which Allogenes is being tested and tried by Satan, followed by an earthly scene in which Jesus is being watched closely by scribes. At one point Judas is told, "Although you are evil at this place, you are a disciple of Jesus." The last line of the text says, according to Hedrick: "And he [Judas] took money and delivered him [Jesus] over."

So, Hedrick said, "it appears that Judas is working at the behest of God when he betrays Jesus as part of the divine plan." When translations of the Gospel of Judas are released with accompanying analyses, Hedrick expects that "there will be a lot of sensationalism, but it will dribble out, leaving only the scholars interested."

Yet, in academic and religious circles, the text may stir excitement for years, according to a scholar from the University of Ottawa. "It is a major discovery not only for Coptic, Gnostic or apocryphal studies, but also for ancient Judaism and early Christianity," said Pierluigi Piovanelli in an e-mail to colleagues in 2004 when the first plans to publish were announced.

Some scholarly discussions will focus on whether the document was produced by a branch of the Sethian Gnostics called Cainites by church leaders. The Cainites were said to have glorified Cain and other disgraced figures in the Bible because, according to Gnostic viewpoints, they were doing God's work.

Church discussions conceivably could revolve around the extent to which New Testament Gospels present events in Jesus' life and passion as ordained from the start. Judas Iscariot, depicted minimally by the Gospel of Mark, receives elaboration in Matthew, Luke and John. The latter Gospel says Satan entered Judas at the Last Supper just before Jesus told the disciple, "Do quickly what you are going to do."

For Robinson, the significance of the Gospel of Judas has to do not with first-century history but with second-century mythology. Still, he offered these half-serious reflections in his closing remarks last month: "Where would Christianity be, if there had been no Judas, and Jesus----instead of dying for our sins on the cross----had died of old age?" he asked. "So: Thank God for Judas? Even the most broadminded among us would call that heresy!"

[From the website of Michel van Rijn, 27th April 2005] (A letter from the codex owner, clarifying the processes by which the codices have been dispersed: RP):

Mario Jean Roberty


December 15, 2000
by fax to 1-212-332-3374 and by courier service

Mr. Eric R.Kaufman. Esq. 
Kaufman & Kaufman 
Rockefeller Center 
620 Fifth Avenue 
New York, 
NY 10020-2457

Dear Eric:

re: Bruce P. Ferrini - Frieda Nussberger Tchacos

First of all, I would like to thank you in Frieda's name and in my own name for your generous hospitality as well as for the time and brain force you have been spending on behalf of the Logos Project. We are very grateful for your assistance.

The subject on hand being extremely complex with its numerous ramifications and far reaching implications, I feel the need to pin down in writing the basic understandings we have reached during the last few days.

Tuesday morning, Frieda and Bruce met again and - under somewhat tensed circumstances - agreed upon some further aspects of their relationship. These agreements are also reflected in the following summary.

1.       The Logos Project intends to save and publish the Gospel of Judas and other related manuscripts for the benefit of historical truth and to generate the funds necessary for this task as well as for the compensation of the expenses and efforts incurred by the promoters, leaving them with a decent profit.

2.       The principles to uphold in realizing the Project shall be:

- security and integrity (physical, legal and economical) for everybody involved 
- security and integrity (physical and legal) for the manuscripts involved 
- respect of ascertained better rights of third parties 
- respect of the justified interests of the public (transparency).

3.       In order to be able to pursue the Project responsibly, we first must ascertain that Mr. Hana A. Airian had obtained good legal and beneficial title to the manuscripts and that he had the right to sell these documents to Frieda. Upon my return to Basel, I shall analyze this question and transmit my findings for your examination.

4.       Depending on the conclusions we will reach regarding Frieda's title to the manuscripts, we will decide on the further steps to be taken with regard to the legal protection of the Project, including - it necessary - notification to trie Egyptian authorities. In the meantime, you will be examining the question of possible restrictions in the field of copyrights resulting from using basic material for which no or uncertain title is held.

5.       In order to legally protect the Project, geographical considerations are to be made. From a first analysis we have concluded that the U.S. are to be considered a potentially risky territory for the manuscripts due to political considerations possibly taking precedence over pure legal aspects, especially when involving application of principles of foreign law. European countries such as the UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland seem to offer a better legal protection of the Project.

6.       The present state of the manuscripts is reason for great concern. It is imperative to start a professional conservation process as soon as possible.

7.      A characteristic of the present state of the manuscripts consists in having pages and larger as well as smaller and minuscule fragments intermingled among the various manuscripts. In order to compose each page to its meaningful original context, all manuscripts snould be brought together in the same place. Here, Coptologists only can try to re-compose each page of the manuscripts which then can be professionally conserved between glass plates.

8.       The whole conservation process preferably is to be conducted in a highly reputable private institution disposing of the necessary secure facilities (e.g. the Bodmer Foundation in Cologny) by outside professionals. This should guarantee the best possible control. The exploration and evaluation of such institution will be the first task to be carried out by the Foundation.

9.       The promoters of the Project have incurred and will incur substantial expenses of money and time in order to realize the Project. It is a clear understanding that they shall be fully compensated and shall make a decent profit. On the other hand, it is understood that this Project leads into a dimension far beyond a commercial transaction. The manuscripts involved being of potential importance to a major part of mankind imposes an approach substantially different to an ordinary business transaction.

10.     Therefore, the entity which shall realize the Project shouldn't be a commercial entity but the Logos Foundation as officially recognized charitable trust of public utility to be established under Swiss Law soon. I shall be submitting to you the draft for the establishment of this foundation within the next few weeks.

11.    The Logos Foundation will receive by its founders an initial capital of USD 100'000.--Moreover, the actual owner of the manuscripts intends to make a partial donation of the manuscripts to the Foundation whereby all rights to the manuscripts as well as deriving from the manuscripts shall be transferred to the Logos Foundation against assignment of totally 80 % of the Foundation's future revenues from the commercialization of the manuscripts (i.e. from the exploitation of the deriving publishing rights etc. and ultimately - if legally admissible - from their sale).

12.     Based on the above understandings, the agreements reached between Bruce and Frieda on September 9, 2000 have become obsolete and therefore

12.1   the Sales Agreement entered and signed In New York on September 9,2000 between Bruce and Frieda regarding the composite volume of at least three Coptic texts (First Apocalypse of James, Epistle of Peter to Philip and Gospel of Judas) has been cancelled;

12.2   the unformulated Sales Agreement of the same date and parties regarding three fragmentary manuscripts (Book of Exodus, Mathematical Treatise and Letters of Paul) has also been cancelled and

12.3   substituted by a new unformulated Sales Agreement by which Frieda sells to Bruce two fragmentary manuscripts (Mathematical Treatise and Letters of Paul) for a purchase price of totally USD 300'000.-- (three hundred thousand dollars US) payable on February 1, 2001. (This new agreement reflects a fact consumed by Bruce who has already disposed of these two manuscripts);

12.4   consequently, Bruce and Frieda are going to exchange the composite volume of at least three Coptic texts (First Apocalypse of James, Epistle of Peter to Philip and Gospel of Judas) as well as the Book of Exodus and the not expressly mentioned further fragments with two checks emitted by Bruce of USD 1'250'000.-- each, the first due on January 15,2001 and the second due on February 15. 2001. This exchange should take place at the earliest convenience;

12.5   moreover, in occasion of the above mentioned exchange, Bruce will guarantee his payment of USD 300'000.- under the new unformulated Sales Agreement by giving Frieda a new check over such amount, payable on February 1, 2001.

13.     Immediately after the above described exchange has taken place, Frieda will set up the Logos Foundation in agreement with you and In accordance with the above described principles. She will then transfer the manuscripts to the Foundation entering into an agreement as described sub par. 11. above. The draft of such agreement shall be submitted to you.

14.     Frieda will grant Bruce the option of acquiring half the rights assigned to her by the Foundation to the future revenues from the commercialization of the manuscripts against payment to her of USD 1'100'000.-- (one million one hundred thousand dollars US) (i.e. USD 750'000.-- corresponding to half the value of the composite volume plus USD 350'000.-- corresponding to hall the value of the Book of Exodus) and against donation to the Foundation of the same amounts she will have donated herself by then. This option shall be valid and exercisable until June 30, 2001.

15.     The exercise of the above option will include Bruce's incorporation into the organs of the Foundation at exactly the same title as Frieda.

16.     Frieda, and through her the Foundation, engage to consult and keep Bruce informed in advance about all intended decisions regarding the realization of the Logos Project until expiry of his option by June 30, 2001.

17.     Whether Bruce will be joining the Foundation or not, he shall have the option to buy the Book of Exodus when the Foundation decides to sell this manuscript after having it conserved and after having ascertained its clear and transferrable title. The price for the exercise of this option shall be of USD 875'000.- (eight hundred and seventy-five dollars US) (i.e. 100 % of 700'000 = 80 %) plus cost of conservation plus interest at a rate of 6 % (six percent) since February 1, 2001. Bruce shall have ninety days since formal notification to exercise his option.

18.     It is clearly understood by all persons involved that nobody, not even Bruce and Frieda but only the Foundation, will have the right to promulgate and commercialize any knowledge regarding, concerning or deriving from the manuscripts. Moreover, for the time being and until all legal aspects are clarified, it is in the best interest of the Project to maintain utmost secrecy about its existence.

19.     In order to further clarify the relationship between Bruce and Frieda, they have decided to have Bruce returning to Frieda all objects he had received on consignment during this year. Some objects have already been returned and others are being shipped. Should Bruce wish to extend the consignment regarding specific objects, he would compile and send to Frieda a corresponding list.

20.     The question of Bruce wanting to acquire the shares of Galerie Nefer AG, Zurich, has been suspended for the time being.

May I kindly askyou to verify together with Bruce the correctness of the above summary of understandings and to let me have your response and comments.

With my best regards.

Sincerely Yours,

Mario J. Roberty 

c/c: Bruce P. Ferrini, Akron Ohio

[From Michel van Rijn, 1st April 2005, from]

Judasevangelie niet van Judas 

De publiciteit rond het zogenaamde evangelie van Judas is zorgvuldig getimed door de eigenaar van de tekst, die er alleen maar geld uit wil slaan. Dat meent prof.dr. Hans van Oort, gespecialiseerd in gnostiek, manicheïsme, Nag Hammadi en Augustinus. Op eigen houtje belegde hij een persconferentie als tegenwicht tegen "alle nonsens" die dezer dagen over het Judasevangelie wordt geschreven. Bijvoorbeeld dat 'het Vaticaan' er belang bij zou hebben dat het document niet gepubliceerd wordt. 

Van Oort is verbonden aan de faculteit godgeleerdheid van de Universiteit van Utrecht en is hoogleraar christendom en gnostiek aan de Radbouduniversiteit. 

"Uit de oudheid was al bekend dat er een Judasevangelie moest zijn. Ireneüs van Lyon, plusminus 180, spreekt erover in zijn Adversus haereses. Maar zijn eigenlijke bron is Justinus de Martelaar en dan zitten we al rond 140. Ik schat dat het Judasevangelie zo rond 120 gedateerd moet worden." 

Het origineel dan wel te verstaan. De papyri die via louche handelaren eind vorige eeuw tevoorschijn zijn gekomen (zie foto) zijn waarschijnlijk een kopie uit het einde van de vierde eeuw. Het spectaculaire voor de wetenschap is dat het Judasevangelie nu eindelijk gevonden is, althans een deel ervan. Van Oort sluit niet uit dat het om de ontbrekende codex uit de Nag Hammadi-geschriften gaat. Wat hij wel uitsluit is dat het door Judas zelf geschreven zou zijn. "Er is geen enkele reden aan te nemen dat hij dat gedaan zou hebben. Niets wijst daarop." 

Het Judasevangelie is een gnostisch geschrift, een beweging die al vroeg door de Kerk werd veroordeeld. "Zij keerden zich tegen de bestaande orde, dus ook tegen de Schepper-God. Daarom was Judas hun held." 

Van Oort is een van de weinige mensen die kennis heeft van de inhoud van het Judasevangelie, maar wil geen gedonder met de eigenaar, de Zwitserse Maecenas Foundation. "Als ik dat doe word ik vermoord." (KN)

[Translation of the above article]
Gospel of Judas not by Judas 

The owner of the text, who only wants to make money from it, has carefully timed the publicity surrounding what is called the Gospel of Judas. That is the opinion of Prof. Hans van Oort, who specialises in Gnosticism, Manichaeism, Nag Hammadi and Augustine. He called a press conference on his own initiative, to counter "all the nonsense" being written at the moment about the Gospel of Judas; for example that the Vatican has an interest in the document's not being published.

Van Oort is attached to the Faculty of Theology of the University of Utrecht and is Professor of Christianity and Gnosticism at the Radboud University.

"It was known from ancient times that there had to be a Gospel of Judas. Irenaeus of Lyons spoke about it in his Adversus haereses (Against Heresies) in around 180 A.D., but his real source is Justin Martyr, and that takes us to around 140 A.D. I would guess that the Gospel of Judas would have to be dated at about 120 A.D." The original, at least. The papyri that appeared in the hands of shady dealers at the end of the last century (see photo) were probably a copy from the end of the fourth century. What is spectacular for science is that the Gospel of Judas has at last been found, or at least a part of it. Van Oort does not rule out that it involves the missing codex from the Nag Hammadi codices. What he does rule out is that Judas himself wrote it. "There is no reason whatsoever to assume that he did this. Nothing points to that."

The Gospel of Judas is a codex from the Gnostics, a movement that was denounced by the Church in the early days. "They set themselves against the established order, and thus also against the Creator. That's why Judas was their hero."

Van Oort is one of the few people who knows the contents of the Gospel of Judas, but does not want any trouble with its owner, the Swiss Maecenas Foundation." If I did, I would be killed." (KN) 

[From Michel van Rijn, 8th April 2005:] Translation of portions of the book of Allogenes

In 2001 this portal first revealed the existence and the contents of the looted Judas Gospel as well as enough of the skulduggery in its recent history to make it unmarketable. The action on this portal forced the culprits who owned the long lost smuggled Gospel to restore it to its true country of origin, Egypt, and to look for other venues to capitalise on their illegally acquired treasure. This portal is used to not being credited in the media for the good work we do (a happy exception was the article on the Judas Gospel by Henk Schutten in 'Het Parool') and we take consolation and soulage in the fact that as a result of our actions this historically important document will be returned to Egypt, safe for posterity.

{Note by Roger Pearse: the translation following is of uncertain authorship: it is not by Charles Hedrick, it turns out}

Nine Fragments of the Gospel of Judas [Actually from 'Allogenes' - RP, April 2006]

It is only a first attempt to organise them, the order can easily change as more fragments become known. This translation is based on photos. These are fragments of nine pages of the Coptic codex of the fourth century AD, the Gospel of Judas. The final fragment is the clearest to identify, because it ends with the title - as is common in this kind of Coptic documents - The Gospel of Judas.

Terminology: 'Allogenes' is most probably Jesus. 'Sakla' is Satan, the evil creator of the world.

Temptation in the desert

1...Be like those in this world and eat of my possessions! Take silver, gold and other things for yourself. "But Allogenes answered him: "Away from me, Satan! It is not you I search, but my Father who is raised high above all great Aeons = arches of heavens each with their own god. For I am him you call Allogenes, I am from a different family line, I am not from your family line." And then he who rules the world spoke to him ...

2 (It is not clear by whom Sakla/Satan is defeated, but definitely not just by Allogenes/Jesus)... And then Sakla attacks him who liberates alone, many times. And he was not able to enslave them. After having defeated him he retrieved ashamed to his own place. Then Allogenes called out with a loud voice: Oh God, who is above the great Aeons, hear my voice, have pity on me and save me from all evil. Look down upon me and hear me, because I am in the empty lonely land. May the unspeakable enlighten me now...
Soon Saklas (Satan) will take control of (some of) Jesus' disciples.

7... When he has filled his times. For him, Saklas, times are limited. He comes, the first star of their family line. And those who are sent will be fulfilled. Then they will perform lewdness in my name and kill their children...

8... And he said: "why are you surprised about your star and his next lines of the aeons. There is a cry..., who is called Jesus, that are ... received ... he spoke to the mind. And the people ... The sixth star is mistaken about our five soldiers. And they will all perish with their creations." But Judas spoke to Jesus: they will not be sedated, those who are cleansed in your name. Jesus spoke: There will be hatred ... and then this cleansing...
Jesus' arrest ...

9... received ... go ... they have his ... bring ... The Pharisees were careful and wanted to arrest him during the prayers, because they were afraid of the people. We said: he will fall into their hands as was prophesied. And they went to Judas and told him ... although you are bad at this place, you are Jesus' true disciple. And he answered them as they wanted him to. And Judas received the money. And he surrendered him.
This is the end of the Gospel of Judas.
Some one Judas? needs to sacrifice Jesus' human earthly frame

6... You shall cleanse ... in sin ... And they are the stars that are perfect in all respects. For so has been spoken to human kind: see, God has received your existence as servants... But the Lord has given orders over the all... they will be despised... all evil things. But you stand supreme over every one...In fact the man who carries me, is he you Judas? will scarify. Now all is your ... increased and your earthly frame has died and your star has burned out and your heart is...
Transfiguration on Mount Tabor

5... We know from where we have come and so we know where we will go and we know what we have to do with our lives." And they came and they went up a mount called Thambor = Tabor. And they threw themselves down, prayed and said: 'Oh Lord God who resides high in the great Aeons, who has no beginning and no end! Give us spiritual knowledge. Reveal us Your secret so we could receive our knowledge: where we come from, where we are going to, and what we have to do with our lives.' After these words spoken by Allogenes, he revealed himself...
Baptism scene at the Jordan (?) or a sequence of the desert-scene

3... And when I said this, see, a cloud of light surrounded me. I could do nothing, I was enclosed in the light surrounding and shining on the cloud. And I heard a word out of the cloud and the light. And the light shone upon me and said: Oh Allogenes! Your pleas are heard and I am being sent to you in this location to go and spread the Glad Tidings. But you have not found an escape from this prison yet...

4... is destroyed, because of the big family line = Allogenes = Jesus has risen above. He said: 'in the beginning of ... and from the angels existed this line in the aeons. They said: raise you eyes to the clouds and to the light that surrounds the cloud and to the beauty that surrounds it and to the stars that exist as pre-mirror image. He is our star.

But Judas saw the cloud of light and went to those who were standing underneath. They heard a voice coming out of the cloud.

Details from Focus:

The manuscript is 16x29cms.

[Images of pages plus transcriptions by Dr. Hedrick. Click images to enlarge]


click images to enlarge




[Henk Schutter's article from 'Het Parool', translated by Michel van Rijn]

The Gospel of Judas Surfaced.


AMSTERDAM - About 1800 years after its ban by the Church because of its 'blasphemous' content, the Gospel of Judas has been made public again. A Swiss foundation discovered a copy of the forbidden gospel and is currently working on a translation.

This Saturday the Parool is the first to publish a couple of fragments from the Gospel, consisting of a dialogue between Judas Iscariot and Jesus.
It is one of the oldest Christian documents discovered so far according to Mario Roberty, the president of the Swiss Maecenas Foundation who currently owns them. He says that the content of the Gospel is 'explosive' as Judas is portrayed as a hero, not a betrayer.
Roberty can not provide any origin of the document written in Coptic.

The documents have probably already been discovered in Egypt

in the fifties or sixties of last century and smuggled out of the country. "But the price was too high and moreover no one knew that it was about the Gospel of Judas."For twenty years the manuscript had been in an American safe. Roberty: "It was in a terrible state when we laid hands on it. Pages were stuck together or had fallen apart. A team of scientists is busy piecing all the bits back together."

Scientists are really excited about this find. The American coptologist Stephen Emmel calls it 'a very exceptional find', which will cause a lot of commotion. "From an historical point of view this find is as important as the Nag Hammadi-writings half a century ago. Everything points to the Gospel referred by Prelate Irenaeus in the second century AD."
Emeritus Professor Gilles Quispel who discovered the Gospel of Thomas calls this discovery also of 'great historical importance'. "For scientists all Gospels are equal."

Why did one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the century remain hidden for such a long time? Almost two thousand years the 'blasphemous' Gospel of Judas was banned by the Church. Until the seventies of last century when Egyptian farmers accidentally found a copy in a cave. But even long afterwards nobody dared to get their fingers burned by the manuscript. "Forget the Da Vinci code, this is the real thing!"

Henk Schutten

The hunt for the Gospel of Judas

It was soon clear that the manuscripts that Stephen Emmel laid eyes on in 1983 in a dark and grotty hotelroom in Geneva were of exceptional historical value. "The documents wrapped in old newspaper were packed in three shoe boxes," Emmel remembers very well, "the authenticity was beyond doubt, but they were in a bad state. I did not dare to turn the pages out of fear for damaging them.


By gently lifting the edges of the pages, I got an impression of the content."

Emmel, a leading American coptologist and the German papyrologist Ludwig Koenen was sent from Dallas to Geneva by the Southern Methodist University to have a look at manuscripts that were offered for sale by shadowy merchants. There was no time for a serious investigation. "We got half an hour to look at the documents. We could not take pictures and even jotting down a few notes was not allowed. We would have found out a lot more, if given more time, adequate lighting and the correct equipment."

The two manuscripts merchants, a Greek and an Egyptian did not introduce themselves. "The meeting was extremely secretive," explained Emmel, "the manuscripts were smuggled out of Egypt, so much was clear. Questions about the origin were not appreciated." The two merchants said that the documents were found in the neighbourhood of the Egyptian village Beni Masar, right next to the current Behnasa. Emmel: "It was not clear how believable that was."

It was obvious however that the Greek and the Egyptian barely realised what they had in their hands. Emmel: "They were not experts. They believed that there were three manuscripts, but there were actually four. After a quick listing, we learned that they dated from about the fourth or the fifth century AD. Two manuscripts, a translation of the Book of Exodus and a mathematical essay, were written in Greek. They were packed in separate boxes just like some of letters of Paul the Disciple also written in Coptic (old Egyptian).

But the most interesting discovery scattered over all three boxes were three different texts, including one completely unknown gospel. "We could not identify the author. Here and there we managed to decipher the name Judas, but it was not clear which one. I supposed it was Judas the Disciple, who was later referred to by the name of Judas Thomas. A mistake as proved later on."

The author of this gospel was Gnostic as was clear from the text. This religious doctrine made rapid progress in the first few centuries of Christianity and deems intellectual understanding inferior to self-knowledge, often obtained by revelations. The Gnostics believed furthermore that man is divine in his deepest inner self, a conviction that made them mortal enemies of the Catholic Church.

Emmel suspected that the pages, about thirty to fifteen centimetres, were in reasonably good condition. "They were held together by a leather strap and the edges should have been intact back then. Its owners have not cared much for the find. Only half of the strap and part of the probable cover had been preserved and there were holes and tears in the pages."

The manuscript was far from complete and that made matters worse. Emmel: "The numbers of the pages went up to sixty, while most papyrus-codices are at least twice as big. I suspected half of the manuscript to be missing."

The negotiations were a complete failure. The two merchants asked three million dollar for the whole collection. Anything less was not negotiable, because they already lowered their price with seven million, so they said. Purchase of individual parts was out of the question as well. Emmel: "Negotiations ended there. Such amounts were far out of reach of a university budget."

Emmel did nevertheless advise his commissioners to try anything to obtain the Gnostic codex, because it would be destroyed completely otherwise. On May 15th, 1983 he wrote in his report: "As long as it remains in the hands of its current owners, there is a considerable risk at further deterioration. Such a unique copy needs to be owned by a library or a museum as soon as possible, to restore, publish and conserve it." His cry for help remained unanswered. Emmel remembers that at the beginning of the nineties the manuscripts were offered for sale to papyrologist James Robinson, director of the Californian Institute of Antiquity and Christianity. "Robinson asked me to accompany him to New York where the documents were held in a safe. The sellers never showed. He did not want to leave Egypt because of the Gulf War."

Then, all went quiet. Emmel feared the worst, until he attended a Coptologist conference in Paris last year in July. Rodolphe Kasser, a Swiss Professor announced during his twenty minute lecture that he was translating the Gospel of Judas and caused great commotion amongst the scientists present. Emmel: "His description made me realise immediately that it was the same manuscript I saw in 1983.

The complete manuscript counted sixty two pages according to Kasser. Half of them consisted of the Gospel of Judas. It is most possibly a copy of the original text of the year 150, the same period when the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were also written down. Kasser did not want to reveal anything more. He referred to the owner of the manuscript, the Basel-based Maecenas Foundation ran by the lawyer Mario Roberty. Religious historians already knew of the existence of the Gospel of Judas. The Prelate Irenaeus appointed as Bishop of Lyon in 178 already warned against the 'blasphemous' works in his writings Adversus Haereses or 'Against Heresy', in which he 'disproves and exposes' the 'false' doctrine of the Gnostics.

Followers of the Gospel of Judas were Kainites, an early Christian sect, according to Irenaeus. In part I of his 'Against Heresy', paragraph 31.1 he wrote: '(Some) stated that Cain owes his existence to the highest power, while Esau, Korak, the Sodomites and all other men are dependants of each other. (..) They believe that Judas the Betrayer was fully informed of these things and that only he understanding the truth like no one else fulfilled the secret of betrayal that confused all things, both in heaven and on earth. They invented their own history called the Gospel of Judas.'

The big question is why this manuscript remained hidden for such a long time after it was discovered. Almost no one wanted to get their fingers burned according to Bruce Ferrini, an art dealer of Akron, Ohio. He himself was offered the documents in 2000 by Frieda Tchakos a gallery owner in Geneva who bought the materials the year prior to that. Before that Tchakos offered the manuscript to the famous Beinecke Library of the Yale University, but they declined the offer after long negotiations. Ferrini: "It was not the authenticity; every one was convinced that the manuscript was real."

The problem was the 'bad provenance', its obscure origin. Tchakos and Roberty told Ferrini that farmers discovered the books in the mid-seventies in a stone box in Megaga, Upper-Egypt. But others heard that the documents were already found in 1947. The place of discovery was al-Minya in Middle-Egypt.

Ferrini: "Frieda told me that the documents were obtained by a Greek trader, Nikolas Koutoulakis who had supposedly stolen them from Hannah, an Egyptian Jeweller. Koutoulakis smuggled them into Geneva. Frieda alleges that Hannah followed him by travelling to Geneva to reclaim the documents. A Coptic priest would have accompanied Hannah afterwards to New York where the documents were held in a safe in Hicksville's Citibank. They remained there till the end of nineties when they were purchased by Frieda."

Ferrini suspects that in the meantime several single pages of the manuscript were put on the market. "When I saw the work for the first time in 1999, only 25 pages remained intact, so at least half of them were missing. I cannot be absolutely sure if the manuscript was found incomplete or if its writing was never finished. But from time to time new pages would appear. Five or six different documents in total without page numbers, it was just a mess." Ferrini hesitated for a long time. He signed the deal, but then refrained from purchasing. "Frieda and Roberty could not provide him with any clear indication about its origin. We didn't buy the manuscript, because we didn't buy their story."

Tchakos and Roberty decided to end their efforts to sell the manuscript and placed it with a foundation, the Maecenas Foundation for them to negotiate in peace and quiet with the Egyptian government how to return the documents.

They were unpleasantly surprised when in January 2001 Michel van Rijn, a Dutch art dealer was the first to mention the 'priceless historical documents on his website, to be only comparable to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi-writings and the Dead Sea Scrolls in Qumran about half a century ago. Van Rijn warned dealers not to take any risks given the sinister origin: 'You buy? You touch? You will be prosecuted!'

The Maecenas Foundation does not want to reveal the prices of the purchase. But the London antique dealer who acted on behalf of Frieda Tchakos claims that she did not pay more than 300,000 dollar for the documents. "Next to nothing", says Michel Van Rijn, "this manuscript is unique, priceless. The fact that it is the Gospel of Judas that has been forbidden by the Church for centuries, makes it of interest to the general public. This is material for books and films, forget the Da Vinci Code, this is the real work!"

Stephen Emmel, coptologist, talks about an 'unusual find' that will cause a lot of commotion. "From an historical point of view this find is as important as the Nag Hammadi-writings discovered half a century ago. Everything tells us that we are dealing with the Gospel of Judas referred to by Irenaeus in the second century AD. It is fantastic that something like that re-appears after 1800 years."

But Emmel calls it 'shameful' that a document of this importance remained hidden for such a long time after its discovery: "Every one with a little Greek or Coptic knowledge was able to recognise the words 'Gospel of Judas'. But the people who had it were only after money. That is why the manuscript suffered great damage and many important parts were missing. But publishing it finally will be a good thing.

After 1983 I feared that the documents would have been lost forever."

Is there a copy in the Vatican  

"Explosive," that is the only comment made about the content of the Gospel of Judas by Mario Roberty, president of the Maecenas Foundation. "First we assumed the document to be fourth or fifth century. But research proved that this is one of the earliest documents of Early Christianity. That is what makes this discovery so exceptional."

Roberty does not rule out at all that the Vatican owns a copy of their own all this time, securely locked away. "In those days the Church decided for political reasons to include the Gospels of Luke, Marc, Matthew and John in the Bible. The other gospels were banned. It is highly logical that the Catholic Church would have kept a copy of the forbidden gospels. Sadly, the Vatican does not want to clarify further. Their policy has been the same for years: "No further comment."

Roberty hopes passionately that one day another copy of the Gospel of Judas will turn up, because the copy as owned by the Maecenas Foundation is only 65 to 70 percent complete. "We assume that some fragments are still wondering around on the market here and there, but I am afraid that a quarter of the manuscript has been lost for ever."

Roberty was actually going to publish the translation of the Gospel of Judas at the end of this year, but that has been postponed till Easter of next year. The research proved to be more extensive than expected. "When we obtained the manuscript, it had been in a safe for twenty years. It looked terrible. Pages were stuck together or had fallen apart. A team of scientists is busy to piece the bits back together. It is a giant puzzle." Roberty says they are still in the dark about the origin of the manuscript. "It originated from an Egyptian dealer in Cairo and Egyptian people just are wonderful storytellers. They will tell you exactly what you want to hear. For the time being we assume that the manuscripts were found in the fifties or sixties of last century, most probably in the environment of al-Minya, in Middle-Egypt, taking into account at least the dialect in which the gospel is written.

When his client Frieda Tchakos bought the documents in 1999, she had no idea at all that the Gospel of Judas was part of it. That explains according to Roberty why the manuscript remained hidden for such a long time. "The asking price for the documents was way too high and no one knew that it was the Gospel of Judas." The problems have been solved in the meantime. "After concluding the research, everything will be returned to Egypt. The work belongs there and they will be conserved in the best way." That was the reason also according to him to place the Gospel of Judas in a foundation.

"This work is so important that it just cannot end up in hands of a private dealer. The Gospel of Judas belongs to every one interested in Early Christianity."

The shady side of the art trade

At the end of last year Michel van Rijn announced through his website spectacular revelations about the Gospel of Judas. He was arrested a month later. His three main competitors on the market for stolen cultural inheritance, seemed to have joined together.


Upon arrival at the Basel airport on Wednesday afternoon of January 19th, Michel van Rijn was to his utmost astonishment handcuffed by the Swiss police. "The aircraft barely landed and there was the whole circus waiting for me, not at customs, but outside the aircraft. I was pushed into a room and stripped. I did not have a clue as to why I was arrested until some one started shouting at me 'Where is the ring?'. Then I understood who was behind this."

Van Rijn travelled to Switzerland upon invitation of Mario Roberty, the Swiss president of the Maecenas foundation and owner of the Gospel of Judas in 2000. But as solicitor Roberty also acts in the interests of several key-players on the black market of stolen art, such as Ali and Hicham Aboutaam, two brothers who have been convicted both in Egypt and in the United States of trade in stolen art. Van Rijn warned on his website against the practises of the brothers

Aboutaam who became the biggest robbers of protected cultural heritage in the world. The website started out years ago as a joke. Once involved 'in ninety percent of all art smuggling operations in the world' according to Scotland Yard, van Rijn wanted to combat the hypocrisy in the art world using the Internet. Successfully, because his disclosures led to arrests, convictions and - most of all - a lot of damaged reputations. Roberto had also been a scapegoat for years on Van Rijn's website.

But lately they settled their disagreements. Van Rijn even conducted some research for the Maecenas foundation regarding the missing fragments of the Gospel of Judas, and successfully so he said. "Roberto offered me to act as project consultant," says Van Rijn: "I was offered 50,000 pound and a share in the foundation. My name would also be mentioned as one of the discoverers of the manuscript."

It was Roberto who invited Van Rijn for a reconciliation meeting in Geneva with Ali Aboutaam. Van Rijn was not unwilling to accept. "I thought: listening would do no harm. Due to all the threats I live in a heavily protected house in Chelsea and was just granted custody for my two little sons." Roberty also mentioned that Van Rijn could potentially still do business in Switzerland with his customer Frieda Tchacos who bought the Gospel of Judas five years ago on the black market. According to him, Tchakos was interested in Van Rijn's collection of Byzantine jewellery. "Roberto specifically asked me to bring a Byzantine ring as Frieda had showed interest in it.

When I asked him how to take it with me, he replied: 'Just wear it!' But I know what Swiss customs are like and decided just to take pictures.

So when the Swiss customs seemed to be looking for a ring after arresting me, I knew instantly that Roberto was behind this." Van Rijn was deported to Geneva in an arrest van. His cell was not much bigger than the mattress he slept on. He did not get to speak to a lawyer. "This is not funny when you are 54 and responsible for two children. But I also feared for my life in prison. It is not difficult for people such as the Aboutaams, who already explicitly threatened to kill me once, to have me killed in the nick."

It was only when Van Rijn was heard by the Swiss judge, that is became clear what the charges were. A London dealer, Freddie Ibrahim, seemed to have made a statement that Van Rijn was willing to delete all unwelcome articles about Ali Aboutaam on his website in exchange for 150,000 dollar. A clear case of blackmail according to Aboutaam who was attending the hearing accompanied by three lawyers. The Swiss judge was not impressed by this charge. She asked if this was the only charge. Van Rijn: "To my astonishment one of Aboutaam's lawyers replied: did you not receive the documents from the US?" These incriminating documents from America had been faxed exactly one day after the arrest of Van Rijn by the lawyer of the American billionaire James Ferrell, the by one biggest gas magnate in the US with whom Van Rijn has not been on good terms for a while. Van Rijn: "Ferrell is known worldwide as biggest buyer of stolen antiquities. He is Aboutaam's biggest customer and is involved with Hezbollah. The money he earned with art smuggling finances weapons for terrorist attacks." Van Rijn feared the worst when he heard that the American billionaire was involved in his trial. "Ferrell was conspiring with the Aboutaams, two convicted criminals, and Roberty to charge me. Then I was convinced I had to start worrying." Mario Roberty was called as a witness a day later. Roberty gave evidence and confirmed that Van Rijn's website is 'in principal' used for blackmail. "My e-mail to Roberty asking him for my 50,000 pound, was added to the incriminating evidence. But that was the amount Roberty promised me for my research for the Gospel of Judas!" Eventually Van Rijn was released just with the fear for his life. The Swiss judge ruled the evidence to be too weak. The charges were dropped and he could return to his London home. In the meantime Van Rijn has a statement signed by Freddie Ibrahim in which the latter denies to have said that Van Rijn would have demanded $150,000 in blackmail from Ali Aboutaam. Ibrahim's signature had been forged by Aboutaam's solicitors. Van Rijn started a damage claim against Aboutaam. He does realise that he made a close escape: "Napoleonic law is applied in Switzerland. You need to prove that you are innocent. But once in the paper mill, that can take weeks, if not months."

It was obvious last year how powerful his opponents were when his website survived a digital bombardment. A so-called Denial or Service-Attack is when a website gets overloaded by too many unknown requests of the web pages. Tiscali, Van Rijn's provider, successfully beat off the attack. The hackers remained untraceable although they threatened in an anonymous e-mail to use heavier tools.

Six months later there was a new attack, and successfully this time. The site was from one moment to the next nowhere to be found. First it was thought to be a technical problem, but soon it was clear that all information was very curiously wiped from the net. The hackers did not leave anything to chance as they also snatched away the alternate domains such as and right in front of him. Everything points to a digital attack from the United States. Shortly before that a court in Ohio ruled for Van Rijn to delete all accusations from his website that are addressed at gas magnate James Ferrell. It is not clear why his opponents choose this very moment to combine forces against him. Was it the recent conviction of the brothers Aboutaam or the accusation that Ferrell was working together with terrorists? Or was the announcement of new revelations about the Gospel of Judas that Van Rijn was planning the final straw? Van Rijn could only guess his opponents' motives, but he is convinced that Mario Roberty is the evil genius in this conspiracy. "Roberty scored a hat trick. With me in prison the hunt was open and his customers got a short break."

The arrest in Switzerland has significantly increased his lawyer bills after he had already lost half a million in the United States. But Van Rijn refuses to be muzzled, despite the devastating American conviction in the case against Ferrell, two unparalleled digital bombardments and a stay in a Swiss cell for almost a week.

"I love art, I learned it at my mother's knee. But the art world is full of criminal dealers, corrupt experts and lemming like certificate sellers. There is hardly any inspection because the authorities have a lack of knowledge. Some one needs to bring these false pretences to light. Of course I will continue with my website."

Stake, reaction of Mario Roberty:

Mario Roberty confirms that Michel van Rijn did some work for the Maecenas Foundation. "Van Rijn would provide us with further information about the lost fragments of the Gospel of Judas. He received a payment of 50,000 pounds." He venomously denies that he set Van Rijn up. "That is absolute bullshit. I have indeed invited Van Rijn for a meeting with my client Ali Aboutaam. It was a big shock to me that Van Rijn was arrested upon arrival in Switzerland. I feel betrayed by Aboutaam and have broken all ties with him ever since."

'Your life is at stake with this manuscript'

"Here it is indeed; Gospel of Judas, at the very end, as was customary in those days," Gilles Quispel nods approvingly, while carefully studying the pictures of the manuscripts one by one.


"And judging by its content, it is clearly a Gnostic document. There is a reference to Allogenes, also called Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve. In Jewish gnosis Seth is viewed as the Saviour." In many old documents from the first years of Christianity references to the Gospel of Judas can be found, says Quispel. But after being banned by the Church, the manuscript seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Not surprising, according to Quispel: "Gnosis is the most persecuted religion in the world. Followers were put to death by the Catholic Church. He who possessed the manuscript risked his life. Religious historians assume that the Gospel of Judas has been written in the same period as the canonical gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Because the Judas-manuscript is written in Coptic - the last stage of Old-Egyptian - it is assumed that this is a copy translated from Greek from the original text presumably from the first or second century. Is the Gospel written by Judas, that is a difficult question to answer for Quispel. "I doubt it very much. But you can never entirely exclude this option." An obvious conclusion is that this text is from an Early-Christian Sect, called the Kainite. The Prelate Irenaeus appointed to Bishop of Lyon in 178 warned against this movement in his writings Adversus Haereses or 'Against Heresy'. It is typical that the sect was called after Cain, the son of Adam who killed his brother, says Quispel, "Gnostics are adverse, and they choose the rejected." The term 'Gnostic' stems from the Greek word knowledge and its doctrine views the own religious experience as higher than accumulating intellectual knowledge. Gnostics believed that men were one with the divine in his most inner self, an intolerable thought for the Catholic Church.

Till middle of last century what was known about old Gnostics was mainly based on documents of the Catholic Church that fought the doctrine with fire and brimstone. This changed when in 1945 farmers found an urn in Nag Hammadi in Upper-Egypt containing 12 books - or codices, written on papyrus and held together with a leather strap. The Nag Hammadi Codices consist of 52 documents, most of them with Gnostic intent. The most famous document out this collection, the Gospel of Thomas was purchased by Professor Quist in 1952.

Just like the Gospel of Judas, the Nag Hammadi-documents ended up in the hands of money hungry art dealers, amongst which a Belgian dealer. Promoted because of the documents of the ecclesiastic inquisitor Tertullianus, Quistel wrote to several sponsors when he heard of the discovery. With a cheque for 35,000 Swiss Francs in his pocket he finally got on the train to Brussels on May 10th, 1952. "A mere trifle, even in those days, but I did return to the Netherlands with the manuscript. Nowadays, these documents would be worth four to five million dollars." Quispel does not exclude that the Gospel of Judas has the same origin as the Nag Hammadi-documents. He remembers how in 1955 he visited Tano, a Cypriot dealer in Cairo with a large number of documents, upon request of Queen Juliana who showed a lot of interest in the Gnostics. "The Egyptian authorities seized Tano's collection, but he wrote to me later on that he left for Geneva to offer some documents for sale that he was able to smuggle out of Egypt to Martin Bodmer, a rich Swiss.
It would not surprise Quispel that the Gospel of Judas fell into the hands of Bodmer through the same Phokion Tano.

"Bodmer placed the documents in a Swiss foundation named after him. He hired a Swiss minister who taught himself Coptic to translate it. This minister, Rodolphe Kasser, is the man who is finalising the translation of the Gospel of Judas."

The Nag Hammadi-documents have been returned to their country of origin and are now placed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo. "Bodmer had to return his documents. They were smuggled. That is theft. Even the hypocritical Swiss have to stay within the law."

If the Gospel of Judas will shed new light on the live of Jesus, as was the case with the Gospel of Thomas, needs to be seen. Quist doubts it. "The big question is if the Judas story of the bible is correct. It is purely hypothetical, but I believe it is. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, while people chanted Hosanna, meaning 'save us from the Romans'. But instead of going to the palace of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilot, as Judas expected, he went to the temple to clear it from the money changers. Judas understood that Jesus was a religious reformer and did not intend to replace the reign of the Romans by a theocracy. Because of that disappointment it is very possible that Judas went to the Pharisees to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver." Scientifically on the other hand, the discovery of the Gospel of Judas is of big historic importance, stated Quispel. "For scientists all gospels are equal. We do not differentiate between true and false.

Just like science treated the Gospel of Thomas unbiased, so will it treat the Gospel of Judas."

[From Michel van Rijn, December 2004:]

The Forbidden Gospel

Forget about the DaVinci Code, this is the real deal!


After 2,000 years of being both hidden and forbidden, the blasphemous Gospel of Judas makes its long-awaited comeback on THIS PORTAL.

Although present 'owner'-Zurich-based Frieda Nussberger Tchakos - struck a deal with the Egyptian government, under which she was absolved of looting that nation clean. But, unlike Judas, she held out for a bit more than 30 pieces of silver. After all, Frieda was one of Tarek El-Sweissi's principal dealers, the latter, of course, sweating in a hot Egyptian cell for the next 30 years.

Your gospelslinger tracked the smuggling trail all the way up to Antwerpen, where a new museum is destined to house tonnes of smuggled Coptic textiles, courtesy of none other than the sultry Frieda herself.

Don't blame your inkslinger if I don't reveal all at once. More revelations always follow Gospels, don't they?

In those days, reading it was a mortal sin. Is now publishing it a portal sin?

Michel van Rijn, 26:14
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, 'What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?' And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver."


St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lugdunum (Lyon) and leading Christian theologian of the 2nd century (c. 135-200 AD), was the only recorded person to lay eyes on the Gospel of Judas. In his book Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), written in about 180, he discussed the Gospel of Judas in section I.31.1:

[Some] declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.

                                                                      -- Refutation of All Heresies I.31.1

Bought on Ebay ;-)

The Gospel was banned and then disappeared.

Thanks to shady antiquities smugglers, a Coptic manuscript, written in Sahidic and dating back to the fourth or fifth century, has mysteriously reappeared, rather damaged and in poor and fragmentary conditions. Found in Megaga, Upper Egypt (present-day Behnasa), and brought to a Coptic jeweller in the late 1970s, it is now in the possession of a 'Swiss Foundation', aka Frieda Nussberger Tchakos. Presided over by Basel-based ambulance-chaser Mario Jean Roberty, those currently with their grubby little hands on it claim that the Gospel hails from Muhazafat Al Minya, in Middle Egypt. They await its publication (with, of course, full transcription) from Frieda's payrolled Rodolphe 'Cash' Kasse (oops, I mean Kasser).

NB: Rodolphe is not to be confused with the red-nosed reindeer. This one's as brown-nosed as they come.

Cash-&-Kasser is hoping to publish the manuscript, which contains three "treatises": (1) the Epistle of Peter to Philip, (2) the First Apocalypse of James and (3) the 31 folios of the previously unknown Gospel of Judas!

Don't worry, dahlink Lacuna Megaga-ists, we've got revelations of our own about the Judas Gospel and excerpts to publish first. Jesus would be turning in his grave, if he were still in it.

The story is a bit complicated, my dahlink papyrilogists, but I'll do my best.


Egyptian jeweller Hanna received a stone box from a man who thought he'd come across something big. What he found was unbelievably huge: inside that box was the Gospel of Judas. Hanna hunted around for possible buyers, quite aware of its value, demanding US$3 million for it. Finally, Geneva-based Greek dealer Nikolas Koutoulakis sent his girlfriend Mia (or was it Effy?) to scope out the situation. Working behind her lover's back, she struck a private deal with Hanna, but too late. The Sneaky Greeky was leagues ahead of his two-timing wench of a girl, and robbed Hanna's home of all manuscripts including the pages of Judas's glory.

He then smuggled them to Geneva, where they were offered for $3,000,000. In the madness of smuggling, theft and deception of sex and religion, Mia had ended up stealing a few of the pages. In the interim, Koutoulakis showed his papyri to fellow Greek antiquities dealer Frieda Tchakos, who was based in Zurich. This was in 1982.

Years passed.

Hanna ended up once again with the manuscript, after having threatened the Sneaky Greeky's life. In 1990 Hanna tried to sell it to Norwegian art collector Martin Schoyen...

[Note April 2006: James M. Robinson has since revealed that this was a rescue attempt by himself, with the help of Martin Schoyen]

[Extract of image of fax of 11.9.2000 from Martin Schøyen to Bruce Ferrini concerning events at that time.  Appears by permission -- RP.]

William Brashear, Egyptian Museum, Berlin, answered in a letterof 15. Oct. 1990 concerning the Mathematical text (abt. 12 leaves): Mathematics of a type well known, practical geometry, similar to the Chester Beatty ones, nothing spectacular new....:

1. Exodus, 4th c. More than 50ff. Greek ....
2. 3 Gnostic texts, coptic 25ff+10? in fragments, 4th.... (incl. 1 cover)
3. Letters of Paul (3 epistles), Coptic, ca. 400, 30ff...... (incl. 1 cover + spine)
4. Mathematical, 5th c. 12ff? .....

.... You should check whether everything is still present; (2 binding covers/spine, abt 12 ff Mathematical (distinctive cursive script) and letters of Paul (part of Colossians, 1st Thessalonians and Hebrews). ...

... then once again to New York book-dealer Krauss. But the real buyer turned out to be Frieda, who 're-discovered' the document and worked out a deal.

In the summer of 1999, Frieda had come across some stolen papyrus that she thought to be Mia's. She then travelled to Cairo in November, where she discussed the purchase of the full manuscript with Hanna. Hanna had put the Gospel in a rusty safe-deposit box in a Citibank in Hicksville, New York. She flew out to see it and purchased it soon after for an unknown sum.

She then met up with religious scholars from Yale University, who were keen on buying the manuscript. But because academic lawyers advised against purchasing a smuggled document, Professor Babcock, the man in charge, was left without the precious folios and promotion.

Frieda tried on and off to sell the Gospel to several people.


Dahlink Gladiators, this weekend National Geographic will film and photograph the Gospel's fragmentary pages in a vault in Switzerland. But of what value is their 'world exclusive' if they are unaware of the diggers, smugglers, art-dealers, governments and bankers alike are backstabbing one other for ownership of the Gospel.

Here at this very portal, we bring you the whole background story. Two world-famous professors are presently working on the miraculously surfaced Gospel of Judas in a nail-biting neck-to-neck race to be the first to publish it. Rodolphe the Brown-Nosed Kasser, Coptic Scholar in Geneva, Switzerland, is in the midst of a fistfight with Charles Hedrick, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at Southwest Missouri State University.

Luckily enough, Professor Hedrick gave us permission to go public with his notes and translations!

[From Michel van Rijn, 9th December 2001:]

Zurich based dealer Frieda (Nussberger) Chakos, owner of the prestigious Gallery Nefer is up to her old tricks again. Although she solemnly promised, after being exposed on my website, to return the illegally acquired, historically invaluable Gospel of Judas to Egypt, she is presently negotiating a possible sale to a US manuscript dealer. We are on the job as usual and will keep you posted. If Frieda will go forward, we will also dive into her past sales and rip the last bits of her already miserable reputation to pieces. The manuscript was dug up at near Nag Hamadi, then illegally exported from Egypt and illegally imported in the US, where Frieda acquired it. Joint owner Mario Roberty, a Basel-based lawyer,  will automatically get his day in Van Rijn's court as this ambulance-chaser deserves special treatment. 

[From Michel van Rijn, September 2001:]

We normally check all the details past to us by informants, but in this case the reality only came out recently after further investigation. As the dealings with [Basel-based lawyer Mario] Roberty unfolded I was confronted by an even increasingly less attractive picture of his activities. Due to his part ownership of the Gospel, his position as a source of reliable information became untenable, due to the conflict of interests.

The Gospel of Judas was 'stolen' in Egypt in the late seventies  by infamous art dealer Nico Koutolakis from Egyptian based owner, Mr. Hanna. Koutolakis smuggled it to Geneva. After Hanna and Koutolakis worked out their differences, the gospel was send to a cousin of Hanna in NY, without declaring it at customs. It was deposited in a NY bank vault, where Frieda Chakos bought it. As a bonus for the Egyptian authorities: In our next update we deal with the complete Egyptian background of the Gospel. If the present owners will not donate it back to your country, I will make sure you can go and get it!

[From Michel van Rijn, April 2001:]

BTW, The Gospel of Judas is safely returned to Switzerland and not longer in the claws of our multi talented 'Bruce on the Loose'!

[From Michel van Rijn, January 2001:]

For some years a small clique of scholars and dealers have known the existence of a group of papyri of remarkable content. The rumours were finally proved! The Gospel of Judas unfortunately fell victim in the claws of the 'multi-talented' manuscript dealer, Bruce P. Ferrini.

Last fall, Zurich based antiques dealer F.T.-N. entrusts priceless papyrus manuscripts which had been in a Bank vault in New York for almost 20 years to the "safe" facilities of Akron/Ohio based manuscript dealer Bruce P. Ferrini.  The dealer is approached by Ferrini through a middleman and doesn't have a clue that by this time Ferrini is already in deep financial troubles. The news had not hit the papers yet. Ferrini takes advantage of the secrecy of the art-market and offers to help F.T.-N. 'in preserving these manuscripts for the benefit of mankind'...

The papyrus manuscripts consist of

- a Gnostic codex in Sahidic dialect

containing the lost 'Gospel of Judas' known from history only through Saint Irenaeus (c. 140-202 AD), Bishop of Lyon, the "First Apocalypse of James" and the "Epistle of Peter to Philip"

- the 'Book of Exodus' in Greek
- 'Letters of Paul' in Sahidic dialect and a
- 'Mathematical Treatise' in Greek.

All these manuscripts are priceless historical documents, only comparable to major finds like the Nag Hammadi Library or the Dead-See Scrolls from Qumran. They belong to mankind and shall be publicly preserved and studied. For this purpose, F.T.-N. has set up a public foundation to which these manuscripts have been donated. But Ferrini wants to turn them into money for the satisfaction of his greedy ambitions and has therefore spirited the manuscripts away, to Japan. Legal proceedings and criminal persecution are under way. [...]


All of this comes from a number of articles on the web site of Michel van Rijn, who monitors the art market.  His site is  A search for 'Gospel of Judas' reveals other details of the negotations:

Constructive feedback is welcomed to Roger Pearse. Corrections and additions are very welcome.

This page has been online since 8th April 2005

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