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Why all the hype over the so-called “Gospel of Judas”?

The true reason for the publicity behind the Gnostic “Gospel of Judas”

Much has been written, both by Christians as well as non-Christians, about the attack on the Church by a portion of the Press because of the existence of the Gnostic so-called “Gospel of Judas”.  It appears, however, that the real reason is even more unimaginative.


1. A seemingly absurd campaign by the Press

I believe that very few people in our country ( and in most other countries too ) didn’t hear of the fuss that surfaced recently, regarding the Gnostic pseudo-gospel “of Judas”.  This fuss aroused the curiosity of many people, for numerous reasons.  It just didn’t seem at all logical, for a Gnostic pseudepigraph “gospel” –whose existence was known as far back as the 2nd century A.D. – to generate such a fuss.  Equally inexplicable were all the bold-lettered news headings about the “restitution of Judas”, about a “revised look at Judas” and about “another view of the events of Christ’s death”, or “the different kinds of Christianity of the first century”.  But even more suspicious was the timing that was chosen to publicize all this, in so many countries, worldwide:  during the Great Lent period, so close to Easter!

One wonders why so much interest was shown, so much planning, and with such timing, for a Gnostic text that should normally concern so few people!  It seems illogical, for a book that should chiefly concern only SPECIALISTS who are interested in studying the religious movements of that distant era, to be placed in such widespread circulation, that even “my aunt Mary” has acquired a copy of it, thanks to National Geographic.


2. The suspicions that were raised

Naturally, all of these events were fully exploited by the enemies of the Church.  Foolish newspapers, articles and emails “informed” Christians about Judas’ innocence, and they even “proved” how … Jesus betrayed all of us!  Of course, foolish arguments such as these can convince only those who are already negatively predisposed towards Christianity!  No true Christian could ever acknowledge as a “valid historical writing by Judas” a text that was written a whole century after Judas’ death!   Thus, all of those publicity “rags” remained mere “internal consumption” reading matter that could be “appreciated” only by the enemies of the Christian faith, thus highlighting their foolishness even more…

This barrage of publicity caused damage only in one area: To people with limited mental perception, to children, to the inadequately informed (but non-faithful), perhaps what left an imprint in their mind was the bold lettering of the titles that touted a “different version” of the history of Christ. Naturally, the brains behind this campaign will have to report to God one day for the damage they have caused; even though it is a fact that  “nobody can snatch Christ’s sheep from His hands”  (John 10:28)

On seeing the exploitation of the issue by the enemies of the faith, many Christians rushed to speak of an “attack” by a part of the Press on the Church, by “foreign centers”.  And so, an entire web of conspiracy started to be woven around the issue.  Many things were heard, such as:

-The Church is being attacked, in the middle of the Easter period.

-The New Age is trying to strike at the Christian faith.

-Satanic centers that control the world’s powers are striving to shake off the faith from the people.

-Attempts are being made to confound the faithful, to make them annul their faith in the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

-Attempts are being made to re-introduce Gnosticism in the world.

-Zionists are creating suitable conditions for the Pope to “reinstate” Judas, in order to improve his relations with Judaism.

-Attempts are being made to introduce inverted values in the religious conscience of the world, so that they will no longer know what is good and what is bad, thus justifying even betrayal.

All of the above - and many more - views were heard, both by Christians and non-Christians. It is quite possible, some of these views might have some basis, or, at least some of them (or possibly even all of them) might have been exploited by people (and demons), who have been taking advantage of this situation in every possible way, in order to injure the Christian faith as much as they can.

However, there are reasons that make one believe that the matter is far more superficial - much shallower and much less imaginative than all the above suspicions propose.  Yes, it is possible that the above views could be valid to a certain degree; however, what is certain is that the true issue is purely FINANCIAL!  It is a continuing attempt to perpetuate Judas’ betrayal - not for a mere thirty silver pieces this time, but for …. Millions of Euros!!!


3. A story about an international antiquities deal

In order to understand what is going on, it would be useful to take a brief look at the details leading to the “acquisition” of the rights by National Geographic to publish this ancient text

National Geographic itself –both in its magazine as well as in the book that hosted an inset advertising the Gospel of Judas– provided an extensive analysis of the events of this acquisition, the earliest of which events are dubious, to say the least, since they express views that merely cover up the previous antiquities traders who played a part in the affair, and that this codex is nothing but a stolen section of the Nag Hammadi codices that were discovered in 1945.  We shall however confine ourselves to the “official” version, as described by National Geographic:

Towards the end of the 70s, near Beni Masar in Egypt, a manuscript on papyrus is discovered, that contained –among other things– the so-called “Gospel of Judas”.

In 1978 a peasant antiquities trader sells it to an Egyptian “antiquities merchant”, by the name of Hanna.

At the beginning of 1980, at a time when the Egyptian government characterized as illegal the possession of undeclared antiquities and their export without government approval, and while Hanna tries to sell it to the highest bidder abroad, a burglary takes place and the manuscript is stolen from him.

With the help of a Greek involved in similar activities, Hanna manages to reclaim part of the manuscript, on which is inscribed the Gospel of Judas..

In May of 1983 Hanna goes to Geneva to sell the manuscript to a certain Stephen Eml, a postgraduate student working in Rome, however the exorbitant price that he demanded (3 million dollars) ruined the deal. Eml could only afford up to 50 thousand dollars. During that meeting, there was also a Greek person present, who acted as interpreter.

With his mind made up to secure a high price, Hanna goes to New York, but again doesn’t succeed in obtaining the money he had counted on. Hanna then hid the papyrus in a Citibank safe, in Hicksville of Long Island, and returned to Egypt.

During the 80s, professor James Robinson who was a specialist in this kind of Egyptian text contacted Hanna.

In 1991 the deal was cancelled, because of the Gulf War, which hindered the meeting that had been arranged. 

In 2000 Yale University turned down an offer to purchase the Gospel of Judas.

In the same year, it was purchased by an antiquities merchant of Greek descent, Frida Nussburger-Tchakos, who has offices in Zurich, for about 300 thousand dollars.  At last, Hanna was able to get rid of it, at a relatively good price. She was the first officially acknowledged owner of the codex.

In September of 2000, Tchakos sells the codex to Bruce Ferrini, another merchant of antiquities in Ohio, but he was unable to procure the sum that had been agreed, so, in February of 2001, he returned the codex back to Tchakos, but very seriously damaged. We should point out here, that wherever the codex changed hands, it underwent more and more wear, given that it was already exceedingly fragile, and every new owner not only photographed it, but even rearranged its pages in order to make it more presentable and thus obtain a better price for it. As for its last owner, Ferrini, he even put it into deep freeze, which, as a result of the changing temperatures and moisture it became even more deteriorated, and some of its pages blackened in the process.

Ferrini’s cheques (who was bankrupt at the time) expired at the beginning of 2001. That was when Mario Roberty, Tsakos’ Swiss lawyer appeared, “who runs an establishment that projects ancient art” (as characteristically mentioned in page 19 of the May 2006 edition of National Geographic magazine, WITHOUT HOWEVER DIRECTLY REVEALING THE NAME OF THAT ESTABLISHMENT, BUT ONLY INDIRECTLY, which is in fact the "Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art" ).  In order to pressure Ferini to return the codex, he secured the services of a former merchant of antiquities, Michel Van Rijn who owns a web site with archaeological content. He broadcast the news of Ferini’s bankruptcy and of the codex in his possession, and drove him into worrying about punitive measures, thus forcing him to return it.  (Later on, Van Rijn also turned against Roberty and Tchakos…) Thus, in February of 2001, the codex returns to Switzerland.

In 2002, the translation of the manuscript begins, under the supervision of the Swiss expert of the Coptic language, Rudolph Kasser.  The Codex is gifted to the Coptic Museum of Cairo.

In 2005 the Codex undergoes carbon dating, which indicates that the papyrus belongs to the period between 220 and 340 A.D.. 

The Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art under the directorship of Tchakos’ lawyer, Mario Roberty, closes a deal with the National Geographic Society to sell the manuscript for the rumored sum of 1 million dollars. This endeavor is financed by the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery and the National Geographic Society, which secures the rights to the printed publication and televised projection of the text. 

In 2006, the 17th of April is decided as the day of public launching of the Gospel of Judas.

On the 6th of April 2006 the papyri of the Gospel are presented for the first time to the offices of the National Geographic Society in Washington.

On the 11th of April 2006, the Gospel of Judas circulates in modern Greek for the first time, by National Geographic, in the midst of an extensive and overblown publicity campaign by all the Mass Media owned by the Lambrakis Journalism Organization who represents National Geographic in Greece.

These are the official details. Naturally, from the Michel Van Rijn website that we mentioned above, we can learn many more titillating details on this affair. We realize for example that the "Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art", is the establishment whose director is Tchakos’ lawyer, Mario Roberty. We also realize that this establishment has a name that curiously resembles the name of a related UN establishment that was created in 1998, called the: "Maecenas World Patrimony Foundation", and has such a similarity, that it creates quite some confusion, inasmuch as Roberti’s establishment is easily mistaken for the UN establishment!

Roberty’s establishment doesn’t seem to have any other objects for administration, except for the Gospel of Judas, and generally, very few things are known about it. This raises a suspicion in many people, that in reality, its purpose is solely to legitimize the Gospel of Judas (because of its illegal origin), and to facilitate the transacting of deals with the "National Geographic Society", for the financial exploitation of the Codex.  

In Michel Van Rijn’s website, there is a discussion about the return of the codex to Tchakos by Ferrini, that we should look at briefly: 

In it, is suggested the creation of a non-profit establishment to be called “Logos Foundation”, with head offices in Switzerland because of the more favorable legislation there for the legalizing of ancient artifacts of illicit origin.  The owner of the Codex would transfer it to this establishment, at a cost of 300 thousand dollars and 80% of the net income that would come from its exploitation, which exploitation would involve the publicizing of the Codex’s text.  In other words, this was exactly how things eventually came to be, except that the name of the foundation under establishment was finally given a name that resembles the respective UN establishment.

That deal had provided that Ferrini would keep the section of the Codex that contained the “Epistles of Paul” and the “Mathematical Treatise” at a cost of 300 thousand dollars. Frida Tchakos respectively promised Bruce Ferrini that she would return his two cheques, each 1.500.000 dollars!!!

We see here a very obvious multi-million dollar dance, swirling around an ancient codex.  Well, how much would all of these people need to profit, in order to be satisfied with the “investment” that they supported?  According to an article by Guy Gugliotta and Allan Coperman that was published in the Washington Post on April 7th 2006, they calculated on profiting in the vicinity of ten million dollars!!  (Magazine Treeto Mahti, No.141 - May 2006, page 42).


4. So that was the reason for all the fuss!

In the above story that is full of humungous financial interests, much has been invested.  Entire fortunes have been invested!  Millions of dollars have had to find financers in order to justify all the fuss, all of this vast investment, as well as the profits that the owners of the Gospel of Judas expect to receive. But who would be prepared to buy such a specialized, Gnostic and pseudepigraph text as this one? 

Well, here lies the secret, and here is where the advertising wizards of the Mass Media really went to work!  The 17th of April was indeed chosen as the date for publicizing the text, that is, close to Easter, both the Orthodox as well as the Papist. This was the ideal period, which would contain a heightened interest in the betrayal of Christ!

Apart from that, in order to arouse the public’s curiosity, it had to be done through impressive (even false, if necessary) titles, such as the “different version of events”, the “different Christianities of the first century”, the “restitution of Judas”, etc.

In this way, the enemies of the Christian faith would rush to buy the “Gospel of Judas”, in order to acquire yet another weapon against the Christians, and we Christians would also rush to buy it and find out what it proclaims, in order to stave off the enemy’s attack!!  (Which is something that WE ALSO DID, by paying 15 Euros to purchase National Geographic’s inset!)

Thus, the geniuses of the Mass Media masterfully created a climate of rebellion against Christianity in the middle of the Easter period, which resulted in yet another cashing in of “Judas money”, from thousands of people who were thus drawn into buying an item of merchandise that filled the pockets of those who had the publishing rights!  Investments, after all, had to be secured!

The issue of course doesn’t end here. New, fuller editions, documentaries, analyses on the Gnostics, and assorted other treatises will follow… After all, business is business!! All that matters is that the investors must continue to profit, large scale, from the rights of Judas’ Gospel!

Of course the issue doesn’t end here for us either. In this article, we exposed its commercial aspect. In other articles, we shall have the opportunity to check out this “gospel’s” ridiculous contents and learn all about the Gnostics and also analyze the various arguments of the Mass Media that are directed against the Christian truth.  Don’t be surprised, but we also intend to show the points that we Christians can utilize from this “Gospel of Judas”, to actually prove the credibility of the Christian faith!  Because –yes – these points exist also!!



“National Geographic” magazine, May 2006 edition and its inset.

Treeto Mahti” magazine, issue No.141 May 2006 pages 34-43 under article titled: “They also cashed in Judas!”  (As you can see, these commercial tricks of the Mass Media were not only noticed by Christians, but also by magazines of an entirely different kind!)


N. M.

Translation by A. N.

Greek Text

Article published in English on: 19-6-2006.

Last update: 19-6-2006.