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Ancient text gives Judas heroic glow

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12:00pm, April 25, 2006

A 1,700-year-old manuscript that has been conserved, authenticated, and translated by an international team of scholars describes Judas Iscariot, portrayed in the New Testament as a traitor, instead as a hero who handed Jesus over to authorities for crucifixion because Jesus asked him to do so.

The 26-page Gospel of Judas, a translation from Greek into the Coptic language of ancient Egypt, represents the thinking of early gnostic Christians, researchers announced April 6 at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. A bishop in Roman Gaul made the first known reference to the Gospel of Judas in an A.D. 180 treatise attacking its idiosyncratic take on Christianity.

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