CLEVELAND – An Ohio antiques dealer claims to be holding fragments of papyrus from ancient Egypt, leading experts to try to determine if they are part of the recently released "Gospel of Judas."
Translators in Switzerland are studying photos of the fragments, which were displayed briefly on Wednesday. There also are questions about what the writing on the fragments says.
Art and antiquities dealer Bruce Ferrini, of Akron, says he bought the fragments in 1998 but hasn't given any details about the source.
The Basel, Switzerland-based Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art, which also claims ownership of the fragments, said a number of the pieces clearly came from the volume of papyrus documents whose pages contained the gospel.
Mario Roberty, who leads the Maecenas Foundation, said it was unclear if any of the fragments corresponded specifically to the "Judas" text or could be other material that was also found in the ancient leather-bound volume.
The "Gospel of Judas" tells a far different version of the Jesus story than that found in the four Gospels in the New Testament. The roughly 1,700-year-old document portrays Judas not as a sinister betrayer but as Jesus' confidant, chosen to be told spiritual secrets that the other apostles were not.
The text was one of several ancient documents found in the Egyptian desert in 1970.
The fragments in Ohio are now under the control of lawyer Scott Haley, who is authorized by a court to pay Ferrini's creditors and displayed the pieces this week.
National Geographic, which had the Judas text translated and published, isn't drawing any conclusions about the fragments, saying they would have to be authenticated first.
Haley doesn't immediately plan to go through the expense of authentication, saying that the fragments would not have to be sold if enough money is raised from Ferrini's other assets to pay off creditors. He said he would not try to sell the fragments until the ownership dispute is resolved.