The Lost Gospel
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Contextual Evidence

Left to right: Experts Timothy Jull, Stephen Emmel, Florence Darbre, and Rodolphe Kasser examine the codex.
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic

Scholars are also able to date ancient manuscripts by analyzing their content and linguistic style.

Three leading scholars examined these aspects of the Gospel of Judas and compared them with other manuscripts from the same period.

Historian Rodolphe Kasser is a former University of Geneva professor and a leading translator of the ancient manuscripts found at Nag 'Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945. Bible scholar Marvin Meyer of Chapman University in Orange, California, and Stephen Emmel, professor of Coptic (Egyptian Christian) studies at Germany's University of Munster joined Kasser in evaluating and translating the documents.

The scholars agree that the codex's theological concepts and linguistic structure are similar to those of the Nag 'Hammadi manuscripts. That large collection of texts dates to the same time period as the Judas documents.

The Nag 'Hammadi texts also contain Gnostic writings similar to those found in the Judas codex. Gnostic writings are early Christian texts deemed heretical by Christian leaders of the first centuries A.D.

Emmel explains that the Judas manuscript, like the Nag 'Hammadi texts, contains a second-century Gnostic thought process that would be very difficult to falsify.

To fabricate such a document, "you would have to reflect a world that is totally foreign to any world we know today," Emmel said. "A world that is 1,500 years old … is very difficult for scholars—even who spend their lives studying these things—to understand, let alone to 'create' for other people.

"It would take a real genius to produce an artifact like this and personally I don't think it possible."

"I have no doubt whatsoever that this codex is a genuine artifact of late antique Egypt and that it contains evidence for genuine works of ancient Christian apocryphal literature," Emmel added.