Biblical Studies Gospel of Judas
John Turner
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 December 2022
  • 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.

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