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The Lost Internet Site of the Lost Gospel of Judas


Weird, National Geographic took their site down:

Let me  copy the authentication stuff below:

To verify the authenticity of the Gospel of Judas documents,
the National Geographic Society scrutinized them
as closely as was possible without harming them further

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.



Close evaluation of the document's handwriting helps confirm its authenticity.

Photograph by Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic

Scholars who study ancient texts are able to analyze handwriting and identify telltale scripts used by scribes.

Stephen Emmel, professor of Coptic studies at Germany’s University of Munster, analyzed the Gospel of Judas and submitted the following assessment.

“The kind of writing reminds me very much of the Nag ‘Hammadi codices,” he wrote, referring to a famed collection of ancient manuscripts.

“It’s not identical script with any of them. But it’s a similar type of script, and since we date the Nag ‘Hammadi codices to roughly the second half of the fourth century or the first part of the fifth century, my immediate inclination would be to say that the Gospel of Judas was written by a scribe in that same period, let’s say around the year 400.”

Emmel’s says a modern forger would not be able to duplicate such a document.

“One would not only have to have genuine material—papyrus—and not simply any papyrus, but ancient papyrus,” he said, “one would also have to know how to imitate Coptic script from a very early period. The number of specialists in Coptic that know that in the world is very small.

“You would also have to compose a text in Coptic that is grammatically correct and convincing. The number of people who could do that is even smaller than the number who could read Coptic,” Emmel said.

Radiocarbon Dating

Radiocarbon, or C-14, testing establishes the age of codex to be nearly 1,700 years old.

Image courtesy National Geographic Television & Film

Since its first use in the 1940s radiocarbon dating has been the most accurate method of dating ancient objects and artifacts.

Radiocarbon, present in living organisms, decays at a constant rate in dead tissue. By measuring residual amounts of radiocarbon scientists can accurately date ancient specimens.

Accelerated Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is a specialized radiocarbon dating technique that allows scientists to date even very tiny pieces of material.

The National Geographic Society submitted five tiny samples of the Gospel of Judas for AMS testing at the University of Arizona’s radiocarbon dating lab in Tucson—the same lab that dated the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Judas fragments included four minute pieces of papyrus and a small bit of the book’s leather binding with a piece of attached papyrus page.

No part of the ancient script was altered or damaged during this process.

The results allowed lab experts to confidently date the papyruses to between A.D. 220 and 340.

“The calibrated ages of the papyrus and leather samples are tightly clustered and place the age of the Codices within the third or fourth centuries A.D.,” reported Tim Jull, director of Arizona’s AMS facility, and research scientist Greg Hodgins.

Ink Analysis

An ink sample is extracted from the codex for testing.

Photograph by Joseph G. Barabe/ McCrone Associates

Physical evidence of the Gospel of Judas’ age was found not only within the papyruses but also in the ink that was used to pen the ancient Coptic script. Analysis suggests that the ink may itself constitute a unique and important discovery.

McCrone Associates, a firm specializing in forensic ink analysis, conducted a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) test on samples of the document’s ink.

The procedure uncovered the components used to create the ancient ink and found that they are consistent with ingredients in known inks from the third and fourth centuries A.D. The ink includes a carbon black constituent, in the form of soot, bound with a gum adhesive.

An additional procedure, Raman spectroscopy analysis, established that the ink also included a metal-gallic component like those used in third-century iron-gall inks.

McCrone Associates reports that the Gospel of Judas may have been penned with an early form of iron-gall ink that included a small amount of carbon black (soot). If so, it could be a previously unknown “missing link” between the ancient world’s carbon-based inks and the iron-gall alternatives that became popular in medieval times.

Multispectral Analysis

Using special cameras, multispectral imaging is another tool used by scientists to date ancient documents.

Photograph by Gene A. Ware

Samples of the document were also subjected to Multispectral Imaging (MSI) tests, performed in Switzerland by Gene A. Ware of Brigham Young University’s MSI lab in Utah.

To perform an MSI test, scientists capture numerous images of the same subject matter using several different ranges of light wavelengths or frequencies.

The Judas papyruses responded to MSI in much the same way that confirmed ancient papyruses have.

Ink samples were also subjected to the MSI. They displayed similar characteristics to those of ancient iron-gall or carbon-based inks from the third or fourth century.

The ink sample that was tested contained two corrections that were subjected to particular scrutiny under the MSI test. The inks used to pen these corrections were also found to be consistent with third- or fourth-century A.D. inks. In addition, the corrections appear to have been made soon after the original was completed.

Like the other evidence, physical and contextual, the MSI results reveal what appears to be an authentic Egyptian document from the third- or fourth-century A.D.


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