In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gospel of Judas

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • Anthologies of Essays on the Gospel of Judas
  • Discovery and Acquisition of the Tchacos Codex
  • High Resolution Photographic Facsimiles of the Tchacos Codex
  • Restoration of the Text
  • Critical Editions with Coptic Text and Translation
  • English Translations
  • Translations into Other Languages
  • Issues of Coptic Text and Translation
  • Irenaeus’s Testimony concerning the Gospel of Judas
  • Genre of the Text
  • Structure and Redaction of the Text
  • Prosopography and Dramatis Personae of the Text, Especially Jesus and Judas
  • Purpose of the Text
  • The Gospel of Judas in the Light of Other Judas Traditions
  • Relation of the Gospel of Judas to Other Gnostic Traditions
  • Sethian Gnostic Character of the Text
  • Relation of the Gospel of Judas to Biblical and Related Apocryphal Traditions
  • Cosmological and Astrological Symbolism
  • Evidence of Ritual in the Text
  • Temple and Kingdom Symbolism in the Gospel of Judas
  • The Gospel of Judas as part of the Codex Tchacos Collection
  • Documentary Films

Biblical Studies Gospel of Judas
John Turner
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 September 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0073


We possess the Gospel of Judas as the third treatise in a single fourth-century papyrus codex, or bound book, written in Coptic, conventionally named Codex Tchacos. Probably discovered in Egypt in the 1970s, it became available to the scholarly community and public only in April of 2006. Although its title identifies it as a “gospel” (euaggelion), it differs significantly from the canonical gospels in both genre and content. The Gospel of Judas purports to be a dialogue between Jesus and his twelve disciples and sometimes with Judas Iscariot alone in the eight days just before Jesus went to his crucifixion. In many ways the highly polemical Gospel of Judas portrays the character of Judas and Jesus quite differently than do the canonical gospels: Jesus condemns his twelve disciples for serving a false god; he tells the disciples that he is not the son of their god and that they do not know his true identity; rather they belong only to the races of perishable mortal humanity instead of the immortal “holy race” that preexists in the heavens. Unlike all the other disciples who assume Jesus is the sacrificed son of the Jewish creator God, Judas alone recognizes Jesus’ true identity and origin from a realm vastly beyond that of this demonic and infanticidal God, modeled on the Jewish creator God, who would have Judas facilitate the sacrifice of his own child and have his worshipers continually commemorate this act in the form of Christian baptism, Eucharist, and the ideal of martyrdom.


Full-scale bibliographies in the Gospel of Judas are still in their infancy. Useful bibliographies are offered in Scopello 2008 and DeConick 2009 cited under Anthologies of Essays on the Gospel of Judas. Scholer 2009 assembles bibliographies that Scholer published annually in the journal Novum Testamentum until his death in 2008, while Wurst 2012 is the text of the author’s plenary report delivered at the tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies.

  • Scholer, David M. Nag Hammadi Bibliography: 1995–2006. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 65. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009. 70–73.

    The standard bibliography on Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library, with entries on other Gnostic collections, including Codex Tchacos.

  • Wurst, Gregor. Bibliography of Gnostic and Manichaean Studies 2008–2012. International Congress of Coptic Studies, Rome, 17–22 September 2012.

    Indexes many articles and books on the Gospel of Judas in addition to other Gnostic and Manichaean sources.

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