The Lost Gospel
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Introduction & Map

Gospel of Judas Restored and Translated

A.D. 2006

When conservators began work to restore the Tchacos Codex, the document was fragile and almost completely destroyed.
When conservators began work to restore the Tchacos Codex, the document was fragile and almost completely destroyed.
Photograph by Florence Darbre/Maecenas Foundation

That the Gospel of Judas was found after 1,600 years was an incredible stroke of luck. Yet the real miracle may be that it survived the few decades following its discovery. The fragile codex spent some 20 years in a cardboard box and was shopped to potential buyers in Egypt, Europe, and the United States.

In 2001, Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos and Maecenas foundation director Mario Roberty engaged a Swiss scholar, the veteran Coptologist Rodolphe Kasser, to undertake and supervise translation and restoration. By the time it reached Rodolphe Kasser, the manuscript was in a truly deteriorated condition. The eminent scholar had never seen a period manuscript in worse condition.

The papyruses had scattered into nearly a thousand fragments. They crumbled at the slightest touch.

For five years Kasser's team, including conservator Florence Darbre and Coptic scholar Gregor Wurst pieced the Gospel back together so that the entire codex could be photographed. Using tweezers, they preserved each piece between sheets of glass. They then painstakingly used their own knowledge and computer technology to reassemble the scattered fragments into a coherent whole.

Once the codex's alarming deterioration was arrested, a team of scholars—Kasser, Wurst, Marvin Meyer, and François Gaudard—produced an English translation that has brought this long-lost Coptic (Egyptian Christian) text to modern audiences nearly intact.

Although perhaps 15 to 20 percent of the original document was lost, the remainder is a revelation—more than sufficient to tell the tale of Judas and Jesus as we've never heard it before.