These manuscripts have recently become available because William Klassen, the historian, took what most supposed to be a fictional piece by Jorge Luis Borges as history. His ingenious reading and Klassen's own fictional version of Judas’ suicide note led others, under the leadership of Dan Brown and Rupert Wainwright, to reexamine and publish the collected theological writings of Nils Runeberg. These manuscripts, reprinted here by permission of the De Quincey Foundation, are the most interesting part of that collection. Many paleographers date them to the first century CE. Accordingly, many, notably James Robinson and Burton Mack, claim that they cast new light on the diverse history of early Christianity. By contrast, Norman Jewison and Hyam Maccoby (The Gospel According to Judas), deny their authenticity claiming that they are ‘yet another blatant anti-Semitic attempt to propagate Christian mythology’.
It is significant that Judas never refers to the famous ‘thirty pieces of silver’. Is this omission Judas' attempt to avoid shame? Or, did the Gospels, as many scholars have long contended, manufacture that particular calumny on the basis of obscure Hebrew prophecies? If Judas did take money from the authorities, others could attribute this to greed. But, could Judas have taken money in order to replenish the treasury depleted by Jesus' Jerusalem extravagances? Everyone agrees that Jesus was a wastrel taking no thought for the morrow. If Judas took money to garner support for the continued ministry, he certainly did not intend Jesus' arrest and death. What, then, did he expect?