Judas Gospel woman had been arrested in Cyprus

The woman at the centre of the Judas Gospel controversy was once arrested in Cyprus at the request of Italian police over suspected illegal dealing in antiquities, it emerged yesterday.

And in another indication of the smallness of the shady world of art dealing, the news of possible fraudulent dealings in the case of the Judas manuscript was first hinted at by Dutch art dealer Michel van Rijn, who was instrumental in the sting operation to return the Kanakaria mosaics to Cyprus in the 1990s.

Several articles yesterday, including one in the Los Angeles Times detailed the Cyprus arrest of Frieda Nussberger Tchacos, a Swiss dealer, in 2002. Tchacos was detained by Cypriot authorities after a request by the Italians, who wanted to question her in connection with antiquities being take out of the country and sold illegally.

She was eventually given a suspended sentence in Italy, after she was found guilty of possessing looted artefacts.

Tchacos has been credited with rescuing the 200AD manuscript that paints Judas as Jesus’ favourite disciple. It states that Jesus had asked Judas to hand him over to the Romans in order that his mission on earth to be crucified and resurrect could be fulfilled.

Tchacos entered a deal with National Geographic for exclusive publication rights for the Judas Gospel, which also includes a percentage of National Geographic’s royalties from two books, a documentary and other proceeds stemming from publication of the manuscript.

The LA Times said National Geographic had neglected to mention the suspended sentence Tchacos received in Italy in 2002, or her extensive career in the shadowy side of art dealing.

“In the past, she was at the centre of the looting in Italy,” Paolo Ferri, the Italian state prosecutor told the paper.
Tchacos paid around $300,000 for the gospel, first found in Egypt possibly as far back as 1947. Until this millennium, it sat in a safety deposit box in New York.

In 2001 she sold it to her lawyer Mario Jean Roberty for $1.5 million and a share of future profits. Only a year later, Tchacos was arrested in Cyprus.

She told the LA Times this week she was never convicted in the Italian case, which she called an “equivocal situation”, and had now retired from the antiquities trade.


One of the earliest heresies to arise in the Christian church was Gnosticism, and Irenaeus was one of its chief early opponents. Not all Gnostics believed exactly the same thing, but the general outlines of the belief are fairly clear. […more…]

Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon was first to mention the Gospel of Judas around 180AD. He said the writings were linked to a Gnostic sect. The Gnostics are said to be the closest and most immediate followers of Christ.

Two centuries later, Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, criticised the Gospel of Judas for treating the betrayer of Jesus as commendable, one who “performed a good work for our salvation”.

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Cyprus Mail, Cyprus
Apr. 14, 2006
Jean Christou

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday April 14, 2006.
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