Judas Iscariot's reputation as one of the most notorious
villains in history has been thrown into doubt with the translation
of an ancient text.
The Gospel of Judas, a papyrus document from the third or fourth
Century AD, casts the fallen disciple as a benevolent figure,
helping Jesus to save mankind.
The early Christian Church denounced such teachings as heretical
[especially during the Papal councils of the fourth century AD, when
the "official" content of the Bible was decided] .
The fragile 31-page document, alleged to be a copy of an even
older text, was discovered in Egypt in the 1970s.
The National Geographic Society in the US published the first
translation of the text from Coptic to English in April 2006, and
showed some of the papyrus pages for the first time.
For 2,000 years, [official] Christianity has portrayed Judas as
the treacherous apostle who betrayed his divine master with a kiss,
leading to his capture and crucifixion.
According to the Bible, Judas received 30 pieces of silver for
the act, but died soon afterwards.
However, the Gospel of Judas identifies him as Christ's
favourite disciple and depicts his betrayal as the fulfilment of a
divine mission to enable the crucifixion - and thus the foundation
of Christianity - to take place.