Lost Gospel Revealed; Says Jesus Asked Judas to Betray Him:

The text begins by announcing that it is the "secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

It goes on to describe Judas as Jesus' closest friend, someone who understands Christ's true message and is singled out for special status among Jesus' disciples.

In the key passage Jesus tells Judas, "'you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.'"

Kasser, the translation-project leader, offers an interpretation: "Jesus says it is necessary for someone to free him finally from his human body, and he prefers that this liberation be done by a friend rather than by an enemy.

"So he asks Judas, who is his friend, to sell him out, to betray him. It's treason to the general public, but between Jesus and Judas it's not treachery."

The newfound account challenges one of the most firmly rooted beliefs in Christian tradition.

Bart Ehrman is chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"This gospel," he said, "has a completely different understanding of God, the world, Christ, salvation, human existence—not to mention of Judas himself—than came to be embodied in the Christian creeds and canon."

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