For 1,600 years its message lay hidden. When the bound papyrus pages of this lost gospel finally reached scholars who could unlock its meaning, they were astounded.
Here was a gospel that had not been seen since the early days of Christianity, and which few experts had even thought existed, a gospel told from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, history's ultimate traitor.
In this radical reinterpretation, Jesus asks Judas to betray him.
In contrast to the New Testament Gospels, Judas Iscariot is presented as a role model for all those who wish to be disciples of Jesus.
Discovered by farmers in the 1970s in Middle Egypt, the codex was bought and sold by antiquities traders, secreted away, and carried across three continents, suffering damage that reduced much of it to fragments.
In 2001, it finally found its way into the hands of experts who would painstakingly reassemble and restore it.
The Gospel of Judas has been translated from its original Coptic to clear prose, and is accompanied by commentary that explains its fascinating history in the context of the early Church, offering a whole new way of understanding the message of Jesus Christ.
Rodolphe Kasser, Ph.D., a professor emeritus on the Faculty of Arts at the University of Geneva, is one of the world's leading Coptologists. He has organized the restoration and prepared the editio princeps of codex Tchacos, containing the Gospel of Judas and three other Coptic Gnostic texts.
Marvin Maeyer, Ph.D., Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University Albert Schweitzer Institute, is one of the foremost scholars on Gnoticism, the Nag Hammadi Library and texts about Jesus outside the New Testament.
Gregor Wurst, Ph.D., is professor of Ecclesiastical History and Patristics at the University of Augsburg, Germany.
Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D., is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an expert on early Christianity.
"In one sense, this document is huge news...it provides a touchstone for what certain people believed 150 or 200 years after Christ's death."Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service