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Gospel of Judas

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Estimated Range of Dating: 130-170 A.D.

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Charles W. Hedrick writes in the Bible Review ("The 34 Gospels: Diversity and Division Among the Earliest Christians"):

In sum, in addition to the four canonical gospels, we have four complete noncanonicals, seven fragmentary, four known from quotations and two hypothetically recovered for a total of 21 gospels from the first two centuries, and we know that others existed in the early period. I am confident more of them will be found. For example, I have seen photos of several pages from a Coptic text entitled "The Gospel of Judas" that recently surfaced on the antiquities market.

Tixeront, tranlsated by Raemers, states (A Handbook of Patrology, p. 67): "Besides these Gospels, we know that there once existed a Gospel of Bartholomew, a Gospel of Thaddeus, mentioned in the decree of Pope Gelasius, and a Gospel of Judas Iscariot in use among the Cainites and spoken of by St. Irenaeus (i, 31, 1)."

Here is the Roberts-Donaldson translation of this section from Irenaeus:

Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.

H.-C. Puech and Beate Blatz write (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, p. 387):

Dating: the Gospel of Judas was of course composed before 180, the date at which it is mentioned for the first time by Irenaeus in adv. Haer. If it is in fact a Cainite work, and if this sect - assuming it was an independent gnostic group - was constituted in part, as has sometimes been asserted, in dependence on the doctrine of Marcion, the apocryphon can scarcely have been composed before the middle of the 2nd century. This would, however, be to build on weak arguments. At most we may be inclined to suspect a date between 130 and 170 or thereabouts.

It remains to be seen whether any manuscripts to be published might correspond to the Gospel of Judas mentioned by Irenaeus of Lyons.

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Kirby, Peter. "Gospel of Judas." Early Christian Writings. <>.