For centuries, Christian tradition has painted Judas Iscariot as the ultimate sellout. But a 1,700- year-old papyrus copy of a document called the Gospel of Judas, unveiled by the National Geographic Society last week and previewed in TIME (Feb. 27 issue), presents a radically different view. Authored no later than the 2nd century by Christians whose beliefs were later deemed heretical, the gospel portrays Judas as a favored disciple and says his role in "sacrificing" Jesus' physical being ("the man that clothes me") elevates him above other Apostles. Most scholars see Judas less as a competitor to the biblical canon today than as one of many philosophies wiped out as the church established orthodoxy. Here's a look at Judas, as depicted in the rediscovered gospel and in the Bible.
TRAITOR But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born. Matthew 26: 24
POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests ... and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. Luke 22: 3-4
A DEAD END With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Acts 1: 18
The Gospel of Judas
CHRIST'S CONFIDANT Jesus said to him, "Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom."
LOYAL SERVANT "You will be cursed by the other generations ... But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."
TRIUMPHANT Jesus answered and said, "[Y]ou will come to rule over them. In the last days they will curse your ascent to the holy."