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Judas Religion Definition Essay

"Judas" and "Iscariot" redirect here. For other uses, see Judas (disambiguation) and Iscariot (disambiguation).

This article is about the biblical figure. For the band, see Judas Iscariot (band).

Judas Iscariot (died c. 30 – c. 33AD) was one of the twelve original disciples of JesusChrist and son of Simon Iscariot, according to the New Testament.

Judas is known for the kiss and betrayal of Jesus to the Sanhedrin for 30 silver coins.[1] His name is often used synonymously with betrayal or treason. Though accounts of his death are varied, the traditional version sees him as having hanged himself following the betrayal, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. His place among the Twelve Apostles was later filled by Matthias.

Despite his notorious role in the Gospel narratives, Judas remains a controversial figure in Christian history. For instance, Judas' betrayal is seen as setting in motion the events that led to Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection which, according to traditional Christian theology, brought salvation to humanity. Gnostic texts – rejected by the mainstream Church as heretical – praise Judas for his role in triggering humanity's salvation and view Judas as the best of the apostles.[2]

Biblical account[edit]

Role as an apostle[edit]

Judas is mentioned in the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John, and at the beginning of Acts of the Apostles. Judas was a common name in New Testament times. Judas Iscariot should not be confused with Judas Thomas (Saint Thomas the Apostle), or with Judas Thaddaeus (Saint Jude Thaddaeus), who were also among the Twelve Apostles.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke state that Jesus sent out "the twelve" (including Judas) with power over unclean spirits and with a ministry of preaching and healing: Judas clearly played an active part in this apostolic ministry alongside the other eleven.[3]Origen of Alexandria, in his Commentary on John's Gospel, reflected on Judas's interactions with the other apostles and Jesus' confidence in him prior to his betrayal.[4] However, in John's Gospel, Judas's outlook was differentiated - many of Jesus' disciples abandoned him because of the difficulty of accepting his teachings, and Jesus asked the twelve if they would also leave him. Simon Peter spoke for the twelve: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life," but Jesus observed then that although Judas was one of the twelve whom he had chosen, he was "a devil."[5]

Matthew directly states that Judas betrayed Jesus for a bribe of "thirty pieces of silver"[6][7] by identifying him with a kiss – "the kiss of Judas" – to arresting soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas, who then turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate's soldiers.

Mark's Gospel states that the chief priests were looking for a way to arrest Jesus. They decided not to do so during the feast [of the Passover], since they were afraid that people would riot;[8] instead, they chose the night before the feast to arrest him. According to Luke's account, Satan entered Judas at this time.[9]

According to the account in the Gospel of John, Judas carried the disciples' money bag or box (Greek: γλωσσόκομον, glōssokomon),[10] but John's Gospel makes no mention of the thirty pieces of silver as a fee for betrayal. The evangelist comments in John 12:5–6 that Judas spoke fine words about giving money to the poor, but the reality was "not that he cared for the poor, but [that] he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it." However, in John 13:27–30, when Judas left the gathering of Jesus and His disciples with betrayal in mind,[11] some [of the disciples] thought that Judas might have been leaving to buy supplies or on a charitable errand.

Death of Judas in biblical accounts[edit]

There are several different accounts of the death of Judas, including two in the biblical canon:

  • Matthew 27:3–10 says that Judas returned the money to the priests and committed suicide by hanging himself. They used it to buy the potter's field. The Gospel account presents this as a fulfillment of prophecy.[12]
  • The Acts 1:18–19 says that Judas himself used the money to buy a field[13] (lit: acquire),[14] but fell headfirst, and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. This field is called Akeldama or Field of Blood.[15][16] This way of death may not be incompatible with the act of being thrown down before being stoned.[17]
  • The non-canonical Gospel of Judas says Judas had a vision of the disciples stoning and persecuting him.[18]
  • Another account was preserved by the early Christian leader Papias: "Judas walked about in this world a sad example of impiety; for his body having swollen to such an extent that he could not pass where a chariot could pass easily, he was crushed by the chariot, so that his bowels gushed out."[19]

The existence of conflicting accounts of the death of Judas has caused problems for scholars who have seen them as threatening the reliability of Scripture.[20] This problem was one of the points leading C. S. Lewis, for example, to reject the view "that every statement in Scripture must be historical truth".[21]

Various attempts at harmonization have been suggested. Generally they have followed literal interpretations such as that of Augustine of Hippo, which suggest that these simply describe different aspects of the same event – that Judas hanged himself in the field, and the rope eventually snapped and the fall burst his body open,[20][22] or that the accounts of Acts and Matthew refer to two different transactions.[23] Some have taken the descriptions as figurative: that the "falling prostrate" was Judas in anguish,[24] and the "bursting out of the bowels" is pouring out emotion.[25]

Modern scholars tend to reject these approaches[26][27][28] stating that the Matthew account is a midrashic exposition that allows the author to present the event as a fulfillment of prophetic passages from the Old Testament. They argue that the author adds imaginative details such as the thirty pieces of silver, and the fact that Judas hangs himself, to an earlier tradition about Judas's death.[29]

Matthew's description of the death as fulfilment of a prophecy "spoken through Jeremiah the prophet" has caused difficulties, since it does not clearly correspond to any known version of the Book of Jeremiah but does appear to refer to a story from the Book of Zechariah[30] which describes the return of a payment of thirty pieces of silver.[31] Even writers such as Jerome and John Calvin concluded that this was obviously an error.[32]

More recently, scholars have suggested that the Gospel writer may also have had a passage from Jeremiah in mind,[33] such as chapters 18:1–4 and 19:1–13 which refer to a potter's jar and a burial place, and chapter 32:6–15 which refers to a burial place and an earthenware jar.[34]Raymond Brown suggested, "the most plausible [explanation] is that Matthew 27:9–10 is presenting a mixed citation with words taken both from Zechariah and Jeremiah, and ... he refers to that combination by one name. Jeremiah 18–9 concerns a potter (18:2–; 19:1), a purchase (19:1), the Valley of Hinnom (where the Field of Blood is traditionally located, 19:2), 'innocent blood' (19:4), and the renaming of a place for burial (19:6, 11); and Jer 32:6–5 tells of the purchase of a field with silver."[35]Randel Helms gives this as an example of the 'fictional and imaginative' use by early Christians of the Old Testament: "Matthew's source has blended Jeremiah's buying of a field and placing the deed in a pot with Zechariah's casting of thirty pieces of silver down in the temple and the purchase of the Potter's Field."[citation needed]

Etymology[edit]

In the GreekNew Testament, Judas is called Ὶούδας Ὶσκάριωθ or Ὶσκαριώτης. "Judas" (spelled "Ioudas" (Ιούδας) in ancient Greek and "Iudas" in Latin, pronounced yudas in both) is the Greek form of the common name Judah (יהודה, Yehûdâh, Hebrew for "God is praised"). The Greek spelling underlies other names in the New Testament that are traditionally rendered differently in English: Judah and Jude. The significance of "Iscariot" is uncertain. There are several major theories on etymology:

  1. One popular explanation derives Iscariot from Hebrew איש־קריות, Κ-Qrîyôt, or "man of Kerioth." The Gospel of John refers to Judas as "son of Simon Iscariot" (although some translations only refer to him as "the son of Simon" (Jn 6:71, Jn 13:26, King James Version)),[36] implying it was not Judas, but his father, who came from there.[37] Some speculate that Kerioth refers to a region in Judea, but it is also the name of two known Judean towns.[38]
  2. That "Iscariot" (ܣܟܪܝܘܛܐ 'Skaryota' in Syriac Aramaic, per the Peshitta text) identifies Judas as a member of the סיקריים Sicarii.[39] These were a cadre of assassins among Jewish rebels intent on driving the Romans out of Judea. However, some historians maintain the sicarii arose in the 40s or 50s of the 1st century, in which case Judas could not have been a member.[40]
  3. A possibility advanced by Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg is that Iscariot means "the liar" or "the false one," perhaps from the Aramaic אִשְׁקַרְיָא.[41]
  4. Some have proposed that the word derives from an Aramaic word meaning "red color," from the root סקר.[41]
  5. The word derives from one of the Aramaic roots סכר or סגר. This would mean "to deliver," based on the LXX rendering of Isaiah 19:4 – a theory advanced by J. Alfred Morin.[42]
  6. The epithet could be associated with the manner of Judas's death, i.e., hanging. This would mean Iscariot derives from a kind of Greek-Aramaic hybrid: אִסְכַּרְיוּתָא, Iskarioutha, "chokiness" or "constriction." This might indicate that the epithet was applied posthumously by the remaining disciples, but Joan E. Taylor has argued that it was a descriptive name given to Judas by Jesus, since other disciples such as Simon Peter/Cephas (Kephas = "rock") were also given such names.[43]

Theology[edit]

Betrayal of Jesus[edit]

There are several explanations as to why Judas betrayed Jesus.[44] In the earliest account, in the Gospel of Mark, when he goes to the chief priests to betray Jesus, he is offered money as a reward, but it is not clear that money is his motivation.[45] In the Gospel of Matthew account, on the other hand, he asks what they will pay him for handing Jesus over.[46] In the Gospel of Luke[47] and the Gospel of John,[48] the devilenters into Judas, causing him to offer to betray Jesus. The Gospel of John account has Judas complaining that money has been spent on expensive perfumes to anoint Jesus which could have been spent on the poor, but adds that he was the keeper of the apostles' purse and used to steal from it.[49]

One suggestion has been that Judas expected Jesus to overthrow Roman rule of Judea. In this view, Judas is a disillusioned disciple betraying Jesus not so much because he loved money, but because he loved his country and thought Jesus had failed it.[50] Another is that Jesus was causing unrest likely to increase tensions with the Roman authorities and they thought he should be restrained until after the Passover, when everyone had gone back home and the commotion had died down.[51]

The Gospels suggest that Jesus foresaw (John 6:64, Matthew 26:25) and allowed Judas's betrayal (John 13:27–28).[52] One explanation is that Jesus allowed the betrayal because it would allow God's plan to be fulfilled. Another is that regardless of the betrayal, Jesus was ultimately destined for crucifixion.[53] In April 2006, a Coptic papyrus manuscript titled the Gospel of Judas from 200 AD was translated, suggesting that Jesus told Judas to betray him,[54] although some scholars question the translation.[55][56]

Judas is the subject of philosophical writings, including The Problem of Natural Evil by Bertrand Russell and "Three Versions of Judas," a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. They allege various problematic ideological contradictions with the discrepancy between Judas's actions and his eternal punishment. Bruce Reichenbach argues that if Jesus foresees Judas's betrayal, then the betrayal is not an act of free will,[57] and therefore should not be punishable. Conversely, it is argued that just because the betrayal was foretold, it does not prevent Judas from exercising his own free will in this matter.[58] Other scholars argue that Judas acted in obedience to God's will.[59] The gospels suggest that Judas is apparently bound up with the fulfillment of God's purposes (John 13:18, John 17:12, Matthew 26:23–25, Luke 22:21–22, Matt 27:9–10, Acts 1:16, Acts 1:20),[52] yet woe is upon him, and he would have been better unborn (Matthew 26:23–25). The difficulty inherent in the saying is its paradoxicality: if Judas had not been born, the Son of Man would apparently no longer do "as it is written of him." The consequence of this apologetic approach is that Judas's actions come to be seen as necessary and unavoidable, yet leading to condemnation.[60] Another explanation is that Judas's birth and betrayal did not necessitate the only way the Son of Man could have suffered and been crucified. The earliest churches believed "as it is written of him" to be prophetic, fulfilling Scriptures such as that of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52-53 and the righteous one in Psalm 22, which do not require betrayal (at least by Judas) as the means to the suffering. Regardless of any necessity, Judas is held responsible for his act (Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22; Matt 26:24).[61]

Erasmus believed that Judas was free to change his intention, but Martin Luther argued in rebuttal that Judas's will was immutable. John Calvin states that Judas was predestined to damnation, but writes on the question of Judas' guilt: "surely in Judas' betrayal, it will be no more right, because God himself willed that his son be delivered up and delivered him up to death, to ascribe the guilt of the crime to God than to transfer the credit for redemption to Judas."[62] The Catholic Church has no view on his damnation. The Vatican only proclaims individuals' Eternal Salvation through the Canon of Saints. There is no 'Canon of the Damned', nor any official proclamation of the damnation of Judas.

It is speculated that Judas's damnation, which seems possible from the Gospels' text, may not stem from his betrayal of Christ, but from the despair which caused him to subsequently commit suicide.[63] This position is not without its problems since Judas was already damned by Jesus even before he committed suicide (see John 17:12), but it does avoid the paradox of Judas's predestined act setting in motion both the salvation of all mankind and his own damnation.

Modern interpretations[edit]

The betrayal of Jesus by one of his disciples is widely regarded by scholars as authentic, based on the criterion of embarrassment: it is considered unlikely that the early church would have invented this tradition, since it appears to reflect badly on Jesus.[64]

In his book The Passover Plot (1965), British New Testament scholar Hugh J. Schonfield suggested that the crucifixion of Christ was a conscious re-enactment of Biblical prophecy and that Judas acted with the full knowledge and consent of Jesus in "betraying" him to the authorities. The book has been variously described as 'factually groundless',[65] based on 'little data' and 'wild suppositions',[66] 'disturbing' and 'tawdry'.[67]

Although suggesting that the betrayal is "about as historically certain as anything else in the tradition", Bart Ehrman argues that what was betrayed was not the whereabouts of Jesus, but his private teachings.[68]

John Shelby Spong[edit]

In his book The Sins of Scripture, John Shelby Spong writes:

"The whole story of Judas has the feeling of being contrived...The act of betrayal by a member of the twelve disciples is not found in the earliest Christian writings. Judas is first placed into the Christian story by the Gospel of Mark (3:19), who wrote in the early years of the eighth decade of the Common Era."[69]

Spong points out that some of the Gospels, after the Crucifixion, refer to the number of Disciples as "Twelve", as if Judas were still among them. Comparing the three conflicting descriptions of Judas's death – hanging, leaping into a pit, and disemboweling – with three Old Testament betrayals followed by similar suicides, he suggests that these were the real source of the story.[citation needed]

Spong's conclusion is that early Bible authors, after the First Jewish–Roman War, sought to distance themselves from Rome's enemies. They augmented the Gospels with a story of a disciple, personified in Judas as the Jewish state, who either betrayed or handed over Jesus to his Roman crucifiers. Spong identifies this augmentation with the origin of modern Anti-Semitism.[citation needed]

Hyam Maccoby[edit]

Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby suggests that in the New Testament, the name "Judas" was constructed as an attack on the Judaeans or on the Judaean religious establishment held responsible for executing Jesus.[70] New Testament authors, however, do not seem to have animosity towards other characters with the name "Judas." They play positive roles such as Judas Barsabbas (Acts 15:22-33), Judas the relative of Jesus (Mark 6:3; Matt 13:55; Jude 1), and Judas the son of James (Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13; John 14:22). B. J. Oropeza argues that Christians should not repeat the historic tragedy of associating Judas Iscariot with the Judeans but regard him instead as an emergent Christian apostate, and hence, one of their own. His betrayal over a sum of money warns auditors against the vice of greed.[71]

Role in apocrypha[edit]

Judas has been a figure of great interest to esoteric groups, such as many Gnostic sects. Irenaeus records the beliefs of one Gnostic sect, the Cainites, who believed that Judas was an instrument of the Sophia, Divine Wisdom, thus earning the hatred of the Demiurge. His betrayal of Jesus thus was a victory over the materialist world. The Cainites later split into two groups, disagreeing over the ultimate significance of Jesus in their cosmology.

Gospel of Judas[edit]

Main article: Gospel of Judas

During the 1970s, a Copticpapyruscodex (book) was discovered near Beni Masah, Egypt which appeared to be a 3rd- or 4th-century-AD copy of a 2nd-century original,[72][73] relating a series of conversations in which Jesus and Judas interact and discuss the nature of the universe from a Gnostic viewpoint. The discovery was given dramatic international exposure in April 2006 when the US National Geographic magazine published a feature article entitled "The Gospel of Judas" with images of the fragile codex and analytical commentary by relevant experts and interested observers (but not a comprehensive translation). The article's introduction stated: "An ancient text lost for 1,700 years says Christ's betrayer was his truest disciple."[74] The article points to some evidence that the original document was extant in the 2nd century: "Around A.D. 180, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon in what was then Roman Gaul, wrote a massive treatise called Against Heresies [in which he attacked] a 'fictitious history,' which 'they style the Gospel of Judas.'"[75]

Before the magazine's edition was circulated, other news media gave exposure to the story, abridging and selectively reporting it.[54]

In December 2007, a New York Timesop-ed article by April DeConick asserted that the National Geographic's translation is badly flawed: For example, in one instance the National Geographic transcription refers to Judas as a "daimon," which the society’s experts have translated as "spirit." However, the universally accepted word for "spirit" is "pneuma"—in Gnostic literature "daimon" is always taken to mean "demon."[76] The National Geographic Society responded that "Virtually all issues April D. DeConick raises about translation choices are addressed in footnotes in both the popular and critical editions."[77] In a later review of the issues and relevant publications, critic Joan Acocella questioned whether ulterior intentions had not begun to supersede historical analysis, e.g., whether publication of The Gospel of Judas could be an attempt to roll back ancient anti-semitic imputations. She concluded that the ongoing clash between scriptural fundamentalism and attempts at revision were childish because of the unreliability of the sources. Therefore, she argued, "People interpret, and cheat. The answer is not to fix the Bible but to fix ourselves."[78] Other scholars have questioned the initial translation and interpretation of the Gospel of Judas by the National Geographic team of experts.[55]

Gospel of Barnabas[edit]

Main article: Gospel of Barnabas

See also: Islamic view of Jesus' death

According to medieval copies (the earliest copies from the 15th century) of the Gospel of Barnabas it was Judas, not Jesus, who was crucified on the cross. This work states that Judas's appearance was transformed to that of Jesus', when the former, out of betrayal, led the Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus who by then was ascended to the heavens. This transformation of appearance was so identical that the masses, followers of Christ, and even the Mother of Jesus, Mary, initially thought that the one arrested and crucified was Jesus himself. The gospel then mentions that after three days since burial, Judas' body was stolen from his grave, and then the rumors spread of Jesus being risen from the dead. When Jesus was informed in the third heaven about what happened, he prayed to God to be sent back to the earth, and descended and gathered his mother, disciples, and followers, and told them the truth of what happened. He then ascended back to the heavens, and will come back at the end of times as a just king.

This Gospel is considered by the majority of Christians to be late and pseudepigraphical; however, some academics suggest that it may contain some remnants of an earlier apocryphal work (perhaps Gnostic, Ebionite or Diatessaronic), redacted to bring it more in line with Islamic doctrine. Some Muslims consider the surviving versions as transmitting a suppressed apostolic original. Some Islamic organizations cite it in support of the Islamic view of Jesus.

Representations and symbolism[edit]

The term Judas has entered many languages as a synonym for betrayer, and Judas has become the archetype of the traitor in Western art and literature. Judas is given some role in virtually all literature telling the Passion story, and appears in numerous modern novels and movies.

In the Eastern Orthodox hymns of Holy Wednesday (the Wednesday before Pascha), Judas is contrasted with the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume and washed his feet with her tears. According to the Gospel of John, Judas protested at this apparent extravagance, suggesting that the money spent on it should have been given to the poor. After this, Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus for money. The hymns of Holy Wednesday contrast these two figures, encouraging believers to avoid the example of the fallen disciple and instead to imitate Mary's example of repentance. Also, Wednesday is observed as a day of fasting from meat, dairy products, and olive oil throughout the year in memory of the betrayal of Judas. The prayers of preparation for receiving the Eucharist also make mention of Judas's betrayal: "I will not reveal your mysteries to your enemies, neither like Judas will I betray you with a kiss, but like the thief on the cross I will confess you."

Judas Iscariot is often shown with red hair in Spanish culture[79][80][81] and by William Shakespeare.[81][82] The practice is comparable to the Renaissance portrayal of Jews with red hair, which was then regarded as a negative trait and which may have been used to correlate Judas Iscariot with contemporary Jews.[83]

In paintings depicting the Last Supper, Judas is occasionally depicted with a dark-colored halo (contrasting with the lighter halos of the other apostles) to signify his former status as an apostle. More commonly, however, he is the only one at the table without one. In some church stained glass windows he is also depicted with a dark halo such as in one of the windows of the Church of St John the Baptist, Yeovil.

Art and literature[edit]

Judas has become the archetype of the betrayer in Western culture, with some role in virtually all literature telling the Passion story.

  • Judas is the subject of one of the oldest surviving English ballads, which dates from the 13th century. In the ballad, the blame for the betrayal of Christ is placed on his sister.[84]
  • In Dante's Inferno, Judas is condemned to the lowest circle of Hell: the Ninth Circle of Traitors, also known as the frozen lake, Cocytus. He is one of three sinners deemed evil enough to be doomed to an eternity of being chewed in the mouths of the triple-headed Satan (the others being Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar). Dante writes that Judas – having committed the ultimate act of treachery by betraying the Son of God Himself – is trapped in the jaws of Satan's central head, said to be the most vicious of the three, by his head, leaving his back to be raked by the fallen angel's claws.[85]
  • In art, one of the most famous depictions of Judas Iscariot and his kiss of betrayal of Jesus is The Taking of Christ by Italian Baroque artist, Caravaggio, done in 1602.[86]
  • In Memoirs of Judas (1867) by Ferdinando Petruccelli della Gattina, he is seen as a leader of the Jewish revolt against the rule of Romans.[87]
  • Edward Elgar's oratorio, The Apostles, depicts Judas as wanting to force Jesus to declare his divinity and establish the kingdom on earth.[88]
  • In Trial of Christ in Seven Stages (1909) by John Brayshaw Kaye, the author did not accept the idea that Judas intended to betray Christ, and the poem is a defence of Judas, in which he adds his own vision to the biblical account of the story of the trial before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas.[89]
  • The story "Treasure Trove" by F. Tennyson Jesse relates the rediscovery in modern times of the thirty pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Christ.[citation needed]
  • In Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita, Judas is paid by the high priest of Judaea to testify against Jesus, who had been inciting trouble among the people of Jerusalem. After authorizing the crucifixion, Pilate suffers an agony of regret and turns his anger on Judas, ordering him assassinated. The story within a story appears as a counter-revolutionary novel in the context of Moscow in the 1920s–1930s.[90]
  • "Tres versiones de Judas" (English title: "Three Versions of Judas") is a short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. It was included in Borges' anthology, Ficciones, published in 1944, and revolves around the main character's doubts about the canonical story of Judas who instead creates three alternative versions.[91]
  • In Martin Scorsese's 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, Judas Iscariot's only motivation in betraying Jesus to the Romans was to help him accomplish his mission by mutual agreement, making Judas the catalyst for the event later interpreted as bringing about humanity's salvation.[92]
  • In The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (2005), a critically acclaimed play by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Judas is given a trial in Purgatory.[93]
  • In C. K. Stead's 2006 novel My Name Was Judas, Judas, who was then known as Idas of Sidon, recounts the story of Jesus as recalled by him some forty years later.[94]
  • Pop artist Lady Gaga wrote a song entitled "Judas", about being in love with a man named Judas despite betraying her.
  • Amos Oz wrote Judas in 2014. It theorizes that Judas believed more deeply than Jesus and encouraged Jesus to accept crucifixion in the belief that God would bring him down from the cross to prove that Jesus was divine.
  • In the upcoming film Mary Magdalene, written by Helen Edmundson, Judas is played by Tahar Rahim.[95]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^Matthew 26:14, Matthew 26:47, Mark 14:10, Mark 14:42, Luke 22:1, Luke 22:47, John 13:18, John 18:1
  2. ^See Gospel of Judas
  3. ^See Matthew 10:5–10; Mark 6:6; and Luke 9:1
  4. ^see Samuel Laeuchli, "Origen's Interpretation of Judas Iscariot," Church History, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec., 1953), pp. 253–68, available at https://www.jstor.org/stable/3161779), accessed 6 April 2015.
  5. ^John 6:67–71
  6. ^These "pieces of silver" were most likely intended to be understood as silver Tyrian shekels.
  7. ^Matthew 26:14
  8. ^Mark 14:1–2
  9. ^"BibleGateway.com – Passage Lookup: Luke 22:3". BibleGateway. Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  10. ^John 12:6andJohn 13:29
  11. ^John 13:2, Jerusalem Bible translation
  12. ^Matthew 27:9–10
  13. ^Bart D. Ehrman (1 October 2008). The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed. Oxford University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-19-534351-9. 
  14. ^"Interlinear Bible: Greek, Hebrew, Transliterated, English, Strong's". biblehub.com. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  15. ^Acts 1:18.
  16. ^Perseus Project: καὶ πρηνὴς γενόμενος ἐλάκησεμέσος, καὶ ἐξεχύθη πάντα τὰ σπλάγχνα αὐτοῦ
  17. ^B. J. Oropeza, In the Footsteps of Judas and Other Defectors. Apostasy in the New Testament Communities, vol. 1 (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock/Cascade, 2011), 143–44.
  18. ^Gospel of Judas 44–45.
  19. ^(Papias Fragment 3, 1742–1744).
  20. ^ abZwiep, Arie W. Judas and the choice of Matthias: a study on context and concern of Acts 1:15–26. p. 109. 
  21. ^Letter to Clyde S. Kilby, 7 May 1959, quoted in Michael J. Christensen, C. S. Lewis on Scripture, Abingdon, 1979, Appendix A.
  22. ^"Easton's Bible Dictionary: Judas". christnotes.org. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  23. ^"The purchase of "the potter's field," Appendix 161 of the Companion Bible". Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  24. ^The Monthly Christian Spectator 1851–1859 p.459 "while some writers regard the account of Judas's death as simply figurative ..seized with preternatural anguish for his crime and its consequences his bowels gushed out."
  25. ^Clarence Jordan The Substance of Faith: and Other Cotton Patch Sermons p.148 "Greeks thought of the bowels as being the seat of the emotions, the home of the soul. It's like saying that all of Judas's motions burst out, burst asunder"
  26. ^Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 114.
  27. ^Charles Talbert, Reading Acts: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Smyth & Helwys (2005) p. 15.
  28. ^Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary, Eerdmans (2004), p. 703.
  29. ^Reed, David A. (2005). ""Saving Judas" – A social Scientific Approach to Judas' Suicide in Matthew 27:3–10"(PDF). Biblical Theology Bulletin. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  30. ^Zechariah 11:12–13
  31. ^Vincent P. Branick, Understanding the New Testament and Its Message, (Paulist Press, 1998), pp. 126–28.
  32. ^Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2004), p. 710; Jerome, Epistolae 57.7: "This passage is not found in Jeremiah but in Zechariah, in quite different words and a different order" [1]; John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke, 3:177: "The passage itself plainly shows that the name of Jeremiah has been put down by mistake, instead of Zechariah, for in Jeremiah we find nothing of this sort, nor any thing that even approaches to it." [2].
  33. ^Donald Senior, The Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Liturgical Press, 1985), pp. 107–08; Anthony Cane, The Place of Judas Iscariot in Christology (Ashgate Publishing, 2005), p. 50.
  34. ^See also Maarten JJ Menken, 'The Old Testament Quotation in Matthew 27,9–10'Archived 2008-12-20 at the Wayback Machine., Biblica83 (2002): 9–10.
  35. ^Brown, Raymond (December 1, 1998). The Death of the Messiah, From Gethsemane to the Grave, Volume 1: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels. Yale University Press. p. 912. ISBN 0300140096. 
  36. ^John 6:71 and John 13:26
  37. ^Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Eerdmans (2006), p. 106.
  38. ^New English Translation Bible, n. 11 in Matthew 11Archived 2007-09-04 at the Wayback Machine..
  39. ^Bastiaan van Iersel, Mark: A Reader-Response Commentary, Continuum International (1998), p. 167; Andrew Gabriel-Yizkhak Roth bar Raphael, Aramaic English New Testament (5th Edition; Sedro-Woolley, Wash.: Netzari Press, 2012), 278fn177.
  40. ^Brown, Raymond E. (1994). The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave: A Commentary on the Passion Narratives in the Four Gospels v.1 pp. 688–92. New York: Doubleday/The Anchor Bible Reference Library. ISBN 0-385-49448-3; Meier, John P. A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (2001). v. 3, p. 210. New York: Doubleday/The Anchor Bible Reference Library. ISBN 0-385-46993-4.
  41. ^ abJoan E. Taylor, "The name 'Iskarioth' (Iscariot)," pages 367–383 in Journal of Biblical Literature 129 no 2 (Sum 2010), 369. Online: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001790392&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed 2011-03-12.
  42. ^Joan E. Taylor, "The name 'Iskarioth' (Iscariot)," pp. 367–83 in Journal of Biblical Literature 129 no 2 (Sum 2010), 370. Online: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001790392&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed 2011-03-12.
  43. ^Joan E. Taylor, "The name 'Iskarioth' (Iscariot)," pp. 367–83 in Journal of Biblical Literature 129 no 2 (Sum 2010), pp. 379–83. Online: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0001790392&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed 211-03-12.
  44. ^Joel B. Green; Scot McKnight; I. Howard Marshall (1992). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. InterVarsity Press. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-8308-1777-1. 
  45. ^(Mark 14:10–11)
  46. ^(Matthew 26:14–16)
  47. ^Luke 22:3–6
  48. ^John 13:27
  49. ^John 12:1–6
  50. ^Joel B. Green; Scot McKnight; I. Howard Marshall (1992). Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. InterVarsity Press. p. 407. ISBN 978-0-8308-1777-1. 
  51. ^Dimont, Jews, God & History. p. 135 (New York: North American Library, 2d ed. 1962).
  52. ^ abJudas and the choice of Matthias: a study on context and concern of Acts 1:15–26, Arie W. Zwiep. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  53. ^Did Judas betray Jesus Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, April 2006
A 16th-century fresco depicting Judas being paid the 30 pieces of silver
The BetrayalPeter raises his sword; Judas hangs himself. Illumination from a western manuscript, c. 1504
Judas Iscariot from Tarzhishte Monastery, Strupets, Bulgaria, 16th-century fresco
Brooklyn Museum - Judas Iscariot (Judas Iscariote) - James Tissot
The Kiss of Judas Iscariot, coloured engraving, 15th century.
A red-haired Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss in a Spanish paso figure.
In the Church of St John the Baptist, Yeovil, one stained glass window depicts Judas with a black halo.
Cathédrale Saint-Lazare, Autun. Judas hangs himself

Today’s student essay comes from Flo Cardon, another student who took our Bible and Pop Culture class earlier this year. Flo is currently in the middle of completing her Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Classics and a minor in Ancient History. She loves art and history and in her spare time, enjoys painting. Unsurprisingly, her primarily subject matter in her art relates to religion and mythology. She also loves watching films, particularly musicals (which can probably be deducted from her essay topic!).

Flo chose a controversial biblical character to focus on in her essay – Judas – considering his (equally controversial) afterlife in the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s a great essay, so read on, and enjoy.

Heaven on Their Minds: Judas in the Bible and Popular Culture

By

Flo Cardon

The name ‘Judas’ has become synonymous with ideas of betrayal, disloyalty and treachery. It is commonly known that in the Bible, Jesus Christ was betrayed by the only ex-disciple, Judas Iscariot, in exchange for money. The Bible presents Judas as a two dimensional person, simplified down to only that one moment in his life where he gave Jesus over to the Romans and sealed his fate as ‘Judas, the one that would betray him’ forever. Norman Jewison’s musical film Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) presents Judas as a complex and tragic character that plays an important part in the story of Jesus Christs’ life. By comparing Jewison’s Judas with his biblical counterpart, many investigations can be made into the history of Judas as a character and his portrayal as the one who brought down Jesus Christ.

Carl Anderson as Judas in Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar

In comparison to the Bible, Jewison’s Judas is presented as the tragic figure and the one who the audience should sympathise with. He is shown as only wanting the best for Jesus and the Jews, and uses the entire first musical number as a soliloquy as to how he thinks Jesus is going to doom all his followers and friends as well as himself. Here Judas is not presented as a villain but Jesus’ worried friend. His motivation is to get Jesus to listen to him so that they can prevent Jesus’ movement from getting too large that it will get attention from Roman authorities. This is not a man with evil intent, but one that cares for his friends and the danger he sees they are bringing upon themselves. Biblical Judas is a stark contrast to this; Judas is referred to as ‘Judas, the one that would betray [Jesus]’ more often than not. In the Gospel of John, Judas criticises Jesus’ use of expensive perfume on himself and voices that he thinks the money used on this perfume could have gone to the poor, and is subsequently labelled as a thief (John 12.5-6). This shows that Biblical Judas is motivated to betray Jesus through money, and not friendship like in the film. Judas’ realisation of the inevitability of Jesus’ fate at the beginning of the film contrasted with his obliviousness of the fact that he would be the one that brought Jesus’ downfall brings about an extremely tragic aspect to Judas’ character that isn’t found in the Bible. Before Judas’ death, he sings about how he did not know he was handing Jesus over to die, which is another tragic contrast to how he only intended to betray Jesus so that he would protect the fate of all those that followed his growing movement, including Jesus himself. This emphasises the tragic nature of Judas’ part in this story, as he was unknowingly playing into Jesus’ inevitable arrest and crucifixion much more than he was let on.

However, in the Bible during the last supper, it is written in the Gospel of John that ‘the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus’ (John 13.2), meaning that Biblical Judas only needed to be prompted in order to actually betray Jesus in exchange for money. Both versions of Judas hang themselves in response to Jesus’ sentence to be crucified, but in the film we feel much sorrier for Judas here than the Judas in the Bible. In the Bible, Judas’ death is short and sweet, with no sympathy or remorse shown towards him, just that ‘he went away and hanged himself’ (Matt. 27.5). This seems to imply that he did deserve this tragic ending, as he was shown as the villain who handed Jesus over to the Romans and only that, nothing more. However, just after Jewison’s Judas dies, we hear ‘So long Judas, poor old Judas…’ sung repeatedly as the outro of his death song, reinforcing the idea that Judas was the victim of this story and that he did not deserve this outcome. No one listened to his accurate predictions of what would happen to Jesus and his movement, and he died as a result.[1] Judas in Norman Jewison’s musical film compared to the Bible provides us with insight into the complexity of his character and differing nature of interpretations of it. Judas is clearly the villain in the Bible because of his betrayal of Jesus, but Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) presents us with a Judas with a much more composite, and therefore human, nature.

 

The Judas kiss

An important aspect of the change in Judas between the Bible and Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) is Judas’ race. It is known that Judas was a Palestinian Jew born in Jericho and one of the most well-educated among the Apostles. However, in the film, Judas is played by Carl Anderson, a black man, which caused a variety of controversy when the film was released. Among the controversy was the accusation that making the ‘villain’ of the narrative black was anti-Semitic. It was argued that by making Judas the only black person gave the character evil connotations, as the ‘true villains’ of the story, the Jewish priests, are also primarily clad in black (Hebron 2016, 157). When the film was initially released, Rabbi Marc Tenenbaum described it as ‘a witch’s brew of anti-black and anti-Semitic venom’ (Bennette 2016). This is in reference to how Judas has been depicted as the prototype of an evil Jewish figure throughout history, with offensive and stereotypical anti-Semitic features like a hooked nose, large eyes and black hair (Meyer 2009, 2). This dehumanized Judas as a biblical figure, cutting him down to being the villain who sold off Jesus Christ to be executed.

The decision to make Judas black, as Marc Tenenbaum mentioned, also stirred up discussion of the portrayal as anti-black. This is the reversal of the anti-Semitic idea, as people thought Jewison’s Judas to be anti-black through the fact that the only black character is Judas, the primary image of betrayal and evil, according to the Bible. Carl Anderson being cast to play Judas is also argued to be ‘a comment on the history of African Americans’ (Grace 2009, 98). This can primarily be seen in Judas’ death scene, in which his suicide is clearly reminiscent of the lynching, especially the large amounts of black Americans that were lynched in the first half of the twentieth century as a result of extreme racial oppression and tension in the United States. This blurred the line between the actor and his role, as Judas knew of the violence and oppression that was being carried out by the Romans like no one else did (Hebron 2016, 159), which is a parallel to the racial suppression of black people that was still being carried out when the film was released, and still continues to this day, with the numerous racist responses to the Black Lives Matter movement. Judas understood violence and oppression like no one else did, yet no one listened to him. This afterlife of Judas is vastly different to that of the original biblical Judas, which can be seen in these varying responses to the choice to make Judas a black man in the musical film.

An interesting yet unique aspect of Jewison’s film is that it is told primarily through Judas’ point of view. It is obvious that Jesus is the hero in the Bible but that is because it is written by his devout followers, whereas it can be argued that Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) was created as a reaction to the lack of investigation into Judas’ side of the story, where Judas himself is the protagonist. This is because of Judas’ character development in the narrative; Judas started off as a follower of Jesus, he believed and supported him, subsequently betrayed him, and then felt such an overwhelming guilt at what he had done that he committed suicide. This is true for both the 1973 film and the gospels. But whereas in the Bible Judas’ feelings and thoughts are ambiguous, the film allows us a look into Judas as the main character and as someone who changes and learns (Miller 2011). The fact that the film is from Judas’ point of view means that the audience is being shown the story of Jesus through the eyes of someone who is critiquing him. Judas is allowed to critique Jesus here, as the audience goes into the narrative knowing the famous story of Judas’ betrayal, and knows that he is seen by many as the ‘villain’ of the musical. Judas’ critique of Jesus shows us mainly that he sees Jesus as not the son of God but a human man who put himself in danger by putting the focus on himself rather than the philosophies he preaches.

In the Bible, Judas is only mentioned in relation to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, which does not allow as much character development as the film. This contrast fills in a lot of gaps in the Bible, like what Judas’ thoughts, motives and opinions were when it came to Jesus and the last week of his life. He shows us a Jesus that is human enough to get angry, flip tables at the temple, get overwhelmed at his popularity and even doubt his own faith in his cause. Compared to the cool, calm and collected Jesus shown in the Gospels, this musical Jesus is a lot more unpredictable and human, as shown through Judas’ perspective. Judas can also be seen as he central character through the fact that in the film, Judas is the one resurrected, and not Jesus, as it is more commonly shown. Whether Judas’ reappearance after death is Jesus’ dream or, as some have put it, Satan himself appearing to Jesus to taunt him, Judas uses this last song of his to interrogate Jesus as well as apologise for what he did. Judas doesn’t get to apologise in the Bible, he is just said to have hanged himself and that was the end of biblical Judas. Judas in this film is not the hero, but he is more of one than Jesus is shown to be. Jesus, with his short temper and doubting faith, seems to be more of a villain than Judas in this film, showing how Judas’ point of view presents a unique take on the constantly retold biblical story.

In conclusion, Judas in the Bible can be compared to his counterpart in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) to reveal some in depth conclusions about his character and reactions to it. While the film may not change too much of the narrative presented to us in the Bible, Norman Jewison fills in gaps surrounding Judas’ thought processes and motivations as a complex character and puzzle piece in Jesus Christ’s last week alive. We are given the ending we expect to see but with new depth and details, which is what a successful rendition of a biblical tale, like Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), should aim to do.

[1] This is reminiscent of the Greek myth of Cassandra, who was a prophet that no one listened to before she was killed; She is known as a central figure of epic tragedy, which shows how clearly Judas’ portrayal in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) is one of the most tragic nature, emphasising how the complexity of this version of Judas is a stark contrast to the two dimensionality of Biblical Judas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

All references to the Biblical text are from the NRSV

Bennette, Georgette, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Resurrected’, The Huffington Post, 8 October 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/georgette-bennett-phd/jesus-christ-superstar-resurrected_b_1712061.html

Grace, Pamela, New Approaches to Film Genre: Religious Film: Christianity and the Hagiopic. Great Britain, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

Hebron, Carol A., Judas Iscariot: Damned or Redeemed: A Critical Examination of the Portrayal of Judas in Jesus Films (1902-2014). Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

Meyer, Marvin W., Judas:The Definitive Collection of Gospels and Legends About the Infamous Apostle of Jesus. Harper Collins, 2009.

Miller, Scott, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Musicals. Boston, Northeastern University Press, 2011.

 

 

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