Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Judas Iscariot

Perhaps no other name in Western culture has quite the stigma attached to it as that of Judas Iscariot. Most everyone in the West – Christian or otherwise – can identify this character, and his name has even become synonymous with a backstabber or betrayer in modern language.

Judas, of course, has been the subject of much study throughout the years. In churches he is vilified as the man who handed over Jesus to authorities – the man responsible in many ways for the death of the Savior. Like his name, the thirty pieces of silver he was said to have received have become synonymous with betrayal and treachery.

Christian art and literature have encouraged this characterization. In the Inferno, Dante consigns Judas to the deepest level of hell, where he is to be chewed up for all eternity in the mouth of Satan. His companions there are the two men who betrayed and murdered Julius Caesar. The point couldn’t be more clear – there is no sin more damnable than a betrayal of trust.

In paintings, Judas is frequently depicted with gaunt, prominent features, dark skin and hair, and ghoulish expressions. Consider Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper.

Judas is seated just to Jesus' right, leaning across the table and looking back toward John. He is wearing blue and green. Click on the picture to see it much larger.

Judas Iscariot is the only one with dark skin, hair, and beard, and his face is long and flat, a reptilian face. He is clearly the most “Jewish” of the bunch, and that is surely no accident.

Or take, for instance, the painting of the Last Supper by Philippe de Champaigne, a 17th century French artist.

Judas is seated in a prominent position, with his toga riding high, revealing his bare leg in startling and rather disconcerting clarity. And while the other disciples look rather aghast (Jesus has apparently just predicted his betrayal), Judas is staring directly at Jesus, a confrontational expression on his face and in his body language.

In Caravaggio’s famous painting of the betrayal of Jesus, Jesus himself has a clear, almost child-like face, while Judas’ head is remarkably larger and rounder, with a broad ridge of forehead and an extremely thick, prominent nose.

He looks like a true Neanderthal brute.

Judas has become, for Christianity, the consummate antagonist, the embodiment of evil to Jesus’ embodiment of holy.

Despite that, some scholars and theologians in recent years have begun to question the authenticity of the Judas story. A few have even gone so far as to say that Judas was likely an entirely fictitious character. From my own study of the issue, I don’t think this is, by any means, a majority opinion among Biblical scholars, but I do find the arguments to be interesting if not compelling.

Judas does not enter the Christian tradition until the Gospel of Mark – written around 70 C.E., or forty years after the death of Jesus. However, the apostle Paul, writing some 10-20 years earlier, does mention a betrayal surrounding Jesus.

1 Corinthians 11:23 – For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed…

This seems, on the surface, to suggest that within 20-25 years of Jesus’ death, there was already a story circulating about Jesus having been betrayed. That might support the idea that the story is, in fact, historically-based and not legendary. The earlier an event is testified to, the more likely it is to be true.

However, there is an issue with Paul’s word use.

The Greek word used by Paul is paradidomi. This word doesn’t actually mean “to betray.” It means to “hand over” or “deliver.” In fact, Paul uses the same word earlier in the very same verse. The phrase translated in that verse as “passed on” is actually a repetition of the same word. More than likely, Paul’s original intent was not to imply betrayal. What the verse is really saying is: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over…”

There is a different word in Greek for “betray,” and interestingly enough, that is almost never the word used in reference to Judas and Jesus – even by the Gospel writers. Judas is always shown to be “handing over” Jesus, not necessarily “betraying” him.

That might be easy to disregard as mere semantics of language. But there may be more significance to it than what is implied at first glance. Consider the following two scenarios:

Joe and Bob are good friends.
Bob insulted Bill.
Bill went looking for Bob to rough him up.
Joe handed Bob over to Bill.

In that scenario, it would be fair to say that Joe, in handing over his friend Bob, betrayed Bob. But consider it another way:

Joe and Bob are good friends.
Bob robbed a bank.
The police came to Joe looking for Bob.
Joe handed Bob over to the police.

Did Joe’s action in that scenario really imply a wonton act of betrayal? Or was Joe simply doing what was right, cooperating with police? Furthermore, perhaps Joe feared for his own safety if he didn’t cooperate with police.

Could the story of Judas be interpreted in a similar fashion? Consider this:

Judas and Jesus are good friends.
Jesus committed the crime of blasphemy.
The authorities came to Judas looking for Jesus.
Judas, fearing for his own safety, handed Jesus over to the authorities.

While blasphemy may not be a criminal offense to our modern sensibilities, it most certainly was a criminal offense to 1st century Jewish sensibilities. Could it be that Judas was simply cooperating with authorities out of a desire to follow the laws of his land and out of fear that he might be brought down with Jesus if he didn’t cooperate?

It’s an interesting question that might be the first “chink in the armor” on traditional ideas about the treachery of Judas. Even the Gospel writers didn’t claim Judas betrayed Jesus – he merely was the one who handed him over. Having said that, of course, by no means am I arguing that the Gospel writers don’t depict Judas in a basically negative light. But could their use of the word “handed over,” as opposed to “betrayed,” indicate an earlier tradition that knew of Judas only as the one forced by circumstances to hand Jesus over to authorities, and not someone who wantonly betrayed the son of God?

Returning again to Paul’s discussion of the Last Supper and Jesus being handed over, it is noteworthy to point out that Paul does not mention anything about Judas, or make any implication that one of Jesus’ inner circle betrayed him. Paul simply notes that Jesus had a final meal with his disciples on the night he was handed over to authorities. As noted earlier, Judas – as a character – does not enter Christian tradition until the Gospel of Mark.

In Mark, Judas is first mentioned in the list of disciples, where the writer notes that Judas was the one who betrayed (again, “handed over”) Jesus. Judas doesn’t appear again until the actual betrayal scene, where he is shown to seek out the authorities on his own to hand Jesus over to them. Mark says that when Judas came to them, the authorities “were delighted.”

Later, Mark asserts that Judas showed up in the place where Jesus was praying. He brought with him an armed crowd sent by the Jewish authorities. Using a prearranged signal, he kisses Jesus and Jesus is arrested. Jesus questions the crowd about why they have arrived with swords and clubs, and he points out that he has been in full view every day, preaching at the Temple.

This, of course, brings up a salient point. What was Judas’ purpose in all this? The authorities didn’t need someone to hand Jesus over to them. He was preaching at the Temple, exposed to the world, every day. Recall for a moment my scenario above about Joe and Bob. Imagine that Bob robs the bank and then camps out on the sidewalk in front of the police station for the following week. Would the police really need to go to Joe to find Bob?

This is perhaps the second “chink in the armor” for literal interpretations of the Judas story. It just doesn’t seem to add up. Why was Judas necessary? Could it be that the Judas story was originally designed as a metaphor for something else?

Moving on to the book of Matthew, the writer of this Gospel expands the story of Judas. Adding to Mark’s account, he notes that Judas was offered thirty silver pieces for handing Jesus over.

In Matthew’s last supper scene, Judas is specifically mentioned among the disciples who say “Surely not I?” in response to Jesus’ prediction that he will be handed over by one of the Twelve. Jesus responds by saying, “Yes, it is you.”

The betrayal scene itself is more or less identical in Matthew and Mark. But where Judas disappears from Mark’s account after the betrayal, Matthew includes a scene where Judas, overcome by guilt, throws the thirty silver pieces into the Temple and goes out and hangs himself in shame. Thus, the earliest account of Judas’ suicide comes around 85 C.E., or more than fifty years after Jesus’ death.

In Luke, we have the first instance of Judas actually being called a “betrayer” or “traitor.” Although he uses the phrase “handed over” when talking about Judas’ actions, Luke does explicitly call Judas a traitor on this one occasion. This, in other words, shows that as we move forward chronologically among our sources for stories of Judas, we begin to see Judas painted in an every increasingly negative light.

Luke’s increase in vitriolic language does not stop there. When describing Judas’ discussion with authorities about handing Jesus over, Luke asserts that “Satan entered Judas.” Judas is not just doing something bad; he’s now essentially working on Satan’s orders.

Luke’s Last Supper and arrest scenes don’t differ dramatically from Matthew and Mark. However, where Judas kisses Jesus in the first two Gospels, Luke says that Judas only starts to kiss Jesus, but Jesus effectively stops him with a question: “Are you handing over the Son of Man with a kiss?”

As with Mark, Judas does not appear again in Luke’s Gospel. However, Luke wrote a second volume of work that we know as the book of Acts. Judas’ fate is described in the first chapter of that account.

Luke tells us that Judas bought a field “with the reward he got for his wickedness,” and that he “fell headlong” in the field “and his bowels spilled out,” leading locals to name the place the “Field of Blood.”

In this passage, we again see the increase in vitriol directed at Judas. Where Matthew described Judas being wracked with guilt and remorse, going so far as to exclaim that he had handed over “innocent blood,” Luke asserts that Judas kept the money he gained from his “wickedness” and bought land with it. Where Matthew asserts that Judas committed suicide over his guilt, Luke asserts that he simply died in a rather unfortunate and gory accident – getting what he deserved, in other words.

Furthermore, the “bowels” were understood by ancient Hebrews to be the seat of love, compassion, kindness, and good will. Where evil came from the heart, love and goodness came from the gut. There can be no question that Luke’s description of Judas’ bowels spilling out is a metaphorical way of implying that all that was good, kind, and loving about Judas spilled out into this field of blood.

Moving on to the last Gospel of the New Testament era – the Gospel of John – we find the first reference to Judas when Jesus proclaims that one of his inner circle is a slanderer (in Greek diablos, where we get the word “devil”). John notes that Jesus was talking about Judas.

The next appearance of Judas comes in the one and only scene in the Bible involving Judas that is not related to his betrayal of Jesus. A woman named Mary takes an expensive bottle of perfume and anoints Jesus with it. Judas objects, arguing that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Lest the reader assume this meant Judas was kind-hearted, John is quick to point out that Judas’ motivation wasn’t altruistic; he asserts that Judas was the “keeper of the money bag” and that he frequently stole from it.

Later, John asserts that Satan entered Judas and prompted him to hand Jesus over. During the Last Supper, Jesus hands a piece of bread to Judas, indicating that Judas is the one who will betray him. John notes again that “Satan entered” Judas when Jesus gave him the bread. Judas then gets up and leaves.

After that, Jesus enters a long teaching discourse, which takes up several chapters of John’s book. None of the previous Gospels include this speech, and none mention Judas leaving the table before the meal was over. That doesn’t seem accidental. Clearly John’s intent was to exclude Judas from this final and all important teaching of Jesus – a teaching that culminates in a long, heartfelt prayer for the disciples.

In the arrest scene, John deviates from the previous Gospels by asserting that Roman soldiers were among those who showed up with Judas. The soldiers arrest Jesus after he more or less gives himself up to them. There is no mention of a kiss or even an attempted kiss. As with Mark, Judas disappears from John’s account after Jesus’ arrest.

When we look at these Gospels accounts of Judas, several things come to light. I have already mentioned how there is a noticeable increase in contempt and hostility toward Judas with each successive Gospel. Luke and John both assert that Judas was working on Satan’s orders, with John making the assertion twice. Luke calls him a traitor. John calls him a thief and depicts him as using charitable concerns as a front for his thievery. Where Matthew paints Judas as remorseful to the point of returning the money and committing suicide, Luke says he bought land with the money, then died in a horribly violent accident, where the source of all his love, compassion, and goodness spilled out of him. John has Judas leave the table of the Last Supper, effectively excluding him from the climactic final teaching discourse and final prayer for the disciples.

Another issue that appears when comparing the Gospel accounts of Judas is the basic disagreement among the four sources on the details.

Mark and Matthew say Judas kissed Jesus, based on a prearranged signal. Luke says Judas only attempted to kiss Jesus, but Jesus stopped him. John says nothing about a kiss, and depicts Jesus as simply handing himself over.

In Mark and Luke, Jesus predicts his betrayal, but does not say who it will be. In Matthew and John, Jesus specifically fingers Judas. In Matthew, he does this simply by stating that Judas is the one. In John, however, he points the finger at Judas by handing him a piece of bread.

In Mark, Matthew, and Luke, Judas remains until the end of the meal. In John, he gets up and leaves before the meal is over.

In Mark, Matthew, and Luke, Judas is motivated by money. Only Matthew, however, mentions thirty silver pieces. In John, on the other hand, nothing is said about money, and instead Judas’ sole motivation is simple Satan-inspired wickedness.

In Matthew, Judas is full of guilt, returns the money, and commits suicide by hanging. In Luke, Judas – apparently not feeling guilty at all – uses the money to buy land, then has a terrible accident and dies in a gory mess.

These inconsistencies stand out like a sore thumb and practically beg for explanation. Some have suggested that the inconsistencies are to be expected when dealing with human memory. The general thrust of the story – that Judas was the one who handed over Jesus – is agreed upon by all sources. It’s only in the details that inconsistencies occur. Others, however, have suggested that the details of the story frequently changed because it was legendary to start with. With no basis in history to go on, the story was free to morph and diversify at will.

Another issue we see when looking at the accounts of Judas is an increase in detail. In Mark, Judas is introduced in the list of the twelve disciples. He’s not mentioned again until the Last Supper, when it is noted that he agreed to hand over Jesus in exchange for money. Judas leads a crowd to Jesus after the Last Supper, Jesus is arrested, and Judas disappears from the story. Matthew adds in thirty silver pieces, has Jesus specifically call out Judas as his betrayer, and adds in an account of what happened to Judas after the arrest and how he died. Luke brings Satan into the picture in regards to Judas, suggesting that Judas was under Satan’s spell, and gives his own account of Judas’ death. John includes a story about Judas during the ministry of Jesus, noting that Judas was the treasurer for the disciples and a thief to boot, then lengthens the account of Jesus’ actions during the Last Supper in regards to naming Judas as the one who would hand him over.

This general increase in detail seems to support the idea that the story was mostly legendary. Like any legend, the story of Judas was added to and embellished over time, with each successive author adding in his own unique details and exaggerations.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for the argument of a legendary genesis of the story of Judas, is the fact that Judas shared a name with the Hebrew people. Anyone who has studied Christian history is aware of the sharp divide between Judaism and Christianity. While Christianity began as a sect within Judaism, it very quickly separated from Judaism all together and became a religion of non-Jews and ex-Jews. As such, Christianity and Judaism, once in a parent/child relationship, became bitter enemies. Anti-Semitism among Christians was already flourishing even during the Gospel era of the late 1st century.

Is it just coincidence that the betrayer of Jesus – the man who handed the son of God over to be crucified, the man who was said to be a minion of Satan himself, the man who was called a thief, the man who was said to have spilled out all his goodness, love, and compassion upon his gruesome death – is it just coincidence that this man’s name was Judas, a name synonymous with Judah, the nation of the Jewish people? In fact, “Judas” is simply our English transliteration of the Greek spelling of the name. Judas’ name was, in fact, “Judah.”

The character of Judas was literally named after the Jewish people – those same people that the Gospels say had rejected Jesus and had yelled “Crucify him!” when Pilate brought him before them. Just as the Jews were said to have rejected their own son in Jesus, Judas – a member of Jesus’ own inner circle – handed him over to his death.

This leads back to the “second chink in the armor” I mentioned above. Judas doesn’t seem to be necessary. The Gospels quote Jesus as being perplexed about his arrest – he notes that he has been freely visible preaching every day in the Temple. The authorities didn’t need Judas. Could it be that Judas is simply a metaphor for the Jewish people – those people who rejected Jesus and were accused of being responsible for his execution?

The congruence of these two facts – the rejection of Jesus by the Jews, and the name of Jesus’ betrayer being the name of the Jewish people – is difficult to ignore. It is, in my opinion, the strongest argument one can give for asserting that the Judas story is a legendary account. When you add it to the evidence I have already provided, it makes for a very compelling argument.

Despite that, I am not yet fully convinced that the Judas story is completely legendary. I noted at the start of this essay that the majority scholarly position does not seem to support the idea that Judas Iscariot was a fictional character. A number of scholars have indeed argued for Judas’ legendary status, but from what I can tell, those people represent a minority in the scholarly academy.

It seems most likely to me that someone named Judas Iscariot probably was a follower of Jesus. Despite the strong evidence of the name link, it is important to remember that “Judah,” as a male name, was very common among 1st century Jews. In fact, no fewer than three of Jesus’ own twelve disciples were given that name in one source or another (Judas Iscariot, Judas James, and Judas Thomas). Furthermore, another “Judas” appears as the writer of the book we call Jude in the New Testament, and a fifth appears as the name of one of Jesus’ brothers. Finally, the book of Acts names three additional men named Judas (Judas the Galilean who led a revolt, Judas the man whose house Paul was taken to after his Damascus Road conversion, and Judas one of the early Christian apostles who was chosen to deliver a letter to Antioch from Jerusalem). “Judas” was, without question, a popular 1st century Jewish name.

So while it is highly intriguing that Jesus’ betrayer was named Judas, I think it’s at least possible that this was coincidental. Furthermore, while I think it is historically reasonable to say that Jesus had a follower named Judas Iscariot, it may very well be that the story of the betrayal itself is either legendary or at least greatly embellished. Perhaps this Judas left the group on bad terms, thus leading to later vilification; perhaps this Judas fell to the wayside and didn’t continue with the movement after Jesus’ death, leading to hard feelings among the remaining followers; or, as I indicated earlier in this essay, perhaps this Judas was somehow involved in Jesus’ arrest, but it was only out of fear or persuasion by authorities, and not because he wanted to wantonly betray his own teacher.

I once wrote a short story about the rise of Christianity (alas, it was never finished) wherein Judas figured prominently in the resurrection and was the first of the disciples to continue with the Jesus movement after Jesus’ execution.

(Judas speaking to a crowd) “[The priests] are enemies of God because they seek to bind the human soul, to simplify God’s fullness into a formula and a system! Jesus, speaking with the authority of God, taught a different message. A message of freedom from bondage – a message where love for one another is the ultimate expression of God’s will.”

I had intended to develop some intriguing account of how Judas had come to be known as the one who handed Jesus over to the authorities, but as I said, the story was never finished.

If my readers will forgive a moment of stark personal reflection that has no legitimate place in an otherwise historically researched essay, I suppose I have long identified strongly with Judas because Judas was the betrayer, the one who turned his back on the movement, the one who was vilified not because he never believed at all, but because he believed and then (apparently) stopped believing. I often feel that way myself. I grew up in a Christian family, attended church every week, was heavily engaged in church activities, went to a Christian college (I even started out majoring in Church Music), and remained active in the Church for many years after entering adulthood. But then changes began to take place and I started questioning a lot of things that I had always more or less taken for granted. I started being accused by friends of turning my back on Christianity; one friend said I was “venomous and scathing” and said I had become too judgmental; others talked down to me for “losing my faith;” one of my online networking profiles was deemed “scary” by a religious fundamentalist; someone even once called me a “heretic.” This all coming despite the fact that I continue to identify myself as a Christian, regard Jesus as a unique conduit to the presence of a real and living God, and consider the lifestyle of Jesus to be vitally important to living a God-filled life.

So I have a kind of soft spot, I think, for Judas. I like to imagine that he got a bad rap – that maybe he doesn’t deserve all the defamation and character assassination that he has gotten over the years from Christian tradition. I like to imagine that it was something else, some difference of opinion, perhaps, that led to his ultimate vilification in emerging Christian circles.

So I’m no doubt biased, but I think Judas Iscariot probably really existed; I’m just not very much convinced that his portrayal in the Gospels is accurate – and that, I’m sure, is a combination of both textual evidence and a little bit of a soft spot for him.


Roland E Bouchard said...

I, as a questioning 'Christian', asked a Rabbi: "What does the phonetic word 'Iscariot' mean in Hebrew? He answered, "Afterthought".

For me, I wasn't particularly interested in 'Judas Iscariot' per se'... only in 'Judas', -as it turned out later, Judas the Galilean, of whom I have much to say... but not right at this time.

The actual object of my greater interest is 'Jesus Barabbas'.

In the meantime, I am struck by your more personal 'musings' ("I had intended to develop some intriguing account of how Judas had come to be known as the one who handed Jesus over to the authorities, but as I said, the story was never finished.

If my readers will forgive a moment of stark personal reflection that has no legitimate place in an otherwise historically researched essay, I suppose I have long identified strongly with Judas...".

In my own 'musings' and 'biases' relative to Jesus Barabbas, I relate to you and yours... And, I too am engaged in a work-in-process re. Jesus Barabbas, Judas the Galilean and Saul of Tarsus.

Roland, a reluctant iconoclast.

Scott said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Roland. I like that title you gave yourself: "Reluctant Iconoclast."

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Judas the Galilean and Jesus Barabbas if you care to share any insights.

Roland E Bouchard said...

Not wishing 'to throw the baby out with the bath-water', so to speak, I appreciate the 'fact'(?) that there is at least a 'germ' of 'truth' contained in the 'Holy Gospels'... however, it is honestly very difficult for me to conceive that 'God', through the agency of the Holy Ghost or divine inspiration, is its Author, -indeed, if that is the case, lo, He has failed miserably in proving me with very much understanding as it relates to, in particular, Jesus Barabbas, Judas the Galilean and Saul of Tarsus et al.

From my 'beginnings' of consciousness (around 11 or 12 years old), I was struck by the "notorious robber, murderer and insurrectionist" known as "Barabbas". A 'thorn in my side' for the better part of 30 yrs... and the object of my search for understanding. Because of Him, I have read more than 2,000 books and thus became 'educated', -such that I might be. (I really feared 'being' ignorant and/or stupid.)

For a long time, I was stumped and at and impasse...

Eventually, I 'learned' that "Jesus Barabbas" was originally written in the Greek Gospel according or attributed to Matthew (27:17) -but that His name (Jesus) was removed or omitted from the Latin translation of the same text (around 3 90 c. e.) and most of the subsequent translations thereafter. Moreover, "Barabbas" is not a proper or surname per se', it is what He (Jesus) was called, -it is, rather, an Aramaic appellation, the meaning of which is: Bar = Son + Abba = Father (as in 'the Father or creator of us all' or 'God').

I'm fairly confident that it isn't even necessary to explain to you that this stunning 'bit' of information caused great trials and tribulations within my Roman Catholic indoctrination and 'educated' self.

At first, I was angry... mostly towards the 'Church' and its priests (teachers) -in whom I so naively trusted to provide me with honesty and truth. 'The Prophet' (by Kahlil Gibran), 'The Essene Gospel of Peace', 'Jap Ji' (translated by Kirpal Singh and other literary works authored by Him) did much to allay my anger... but not completely. (I'll elaborate later re. the above.)

(Due to the limitations of HTML, I am compelled to divide this Post into three Parts)

Roland E Bouchard said...

Part 2

Kant once wrote, "...it's not the falsehood, but the intention behind it."

Although I was not willing to actually admit that there were any 'falsehoods' in the Holy Gospels, I certainly could see puzzling 'contradictions' or contrary views: Was Jesus Christ born "...in the days of Herod the king" (prior to 4 B.C.) as is according to Matthew or, "...in the days of the taxation or census when Quirinius or Cyrenius was governor of Syria" (6 or 7 A. D.) as according to Luke? Obviously, both author cannot be 'correct' -however, it is possible that both authors might be 'incorrect'. (And why did Luke write a 'Gospel' anyway? The same question may be applied to Mark as well... oh, I forgot... John Smith wrote one too, called 'The Book of Mormon'.)
but, I digress...

After all is said and done, standing head and shoulders above all the rest (although generally unnoticed and behind the scenes) is Saul of Tarsus -aka the Apostle and eventual Saint 'Paul' -the actual creator, founder and primary force behind 'Christianity' (along with his cohorts Mark and Luke).

The more I contemplated 'the human nature' of Saul of Tarsus, the uglier and clearer 'Christianity' came into view... (this was neither my intention nor the results my desire...when all I really wanted to know was 'Who is Barabbas'?) 'Paul' nearly succeeded in his 'mission'. Nevertheless, he couldn't alter the reality of his being (he could and did alter the history i.e. the names, dates and events of the period).

Briefly, the actual reality of his being, Saul of Tarsus is the namesake and fellow tribesman (family member and descendant) of the first 'anointed' king of the Jews. King Saul eventually fell out of grace of (the unseen) Lord... for failing to follow His commandment. Ashamed and dishonored, he "fell upon his own sworn", -ostensibly to avoid being captured in battle by his (the Jews) enemies. This abominable act, not only of cowardice but an affront to God's gift of life, brought everlasting shame and dishonor onto his family and tribe, -not to mention removing all possibility of leaving his heirs and descendants from ever ascending the throne again.

Now, think for a moment about young Saul's mind-set, his personal and private make-up, his 'education' as it were... the resentment, the jealousy, the hatred of all things 'the descendant(s) of David and the Jewish messiah'...

King Saul was replaced by the 'anointment' of David.

...to be continued.

Roland E Bouchard said...

Part 3

King David was succeeded by his son, Solomon.

King Solomon was succeeded by his son, Rehoboam... BUT, ten tribes revolted away from Rehoboam's heretofore 'theocratic' governance and established a parallel 'secular' government instead, -headed by Jeroboam (leaving the tribe of both Judah and Benjamin marginalized).

This schism among the Jews continued down through the centuries... into the days of the Roman installed and supported Herodian 'secular' government.

(Herod was an Idumean and convert "Jew", -not of the original Twelve Tribes... this infuriated many of 'blood-line' Jews, not to mention the 'descendants of David'.)

Judas the Galilean, author of a fourth sect of Jews (heretofore there were the Pharisees, Sadduccees and Essenes) and prime instigator of an insurrection, -begun in the days of Herod... and continued until all the wealthy and educated Jews scattered themselves abroad, the temple at Jerusalem was razed to the ground (-save the western or 'wailing wall) and the nation ceased to exist (around 70 c. e.)

I respectfully ask you, What 'better' way for young Saul to exercise his hatred for all things 'the descendant(s) of David and the Jewish 'messiah' than to obliterate his name from the face of the earth and, remove all consciousness of the Jewish 'messiah' by 'converting' (read 'translating') the Jewish 'messiah' into the Greek philosophical notion of "Kristos" ("Christ")?

Yes, Scott, I am indeed a 'reluctant iconoclast'...


P.S. Although I have more to 'comment', I await your reading, digesting and response to of which I have already given.

'Teach love, use words only when necessary.'

Scott said...

Those are interesting ideas, Roland.

I have never given much thought to the fact that King Saul and Saul of Tarsus shared a name. I would be inclined, however, to think that was just coincidence, just as it is coincidence - for instance - that George Bush and George Washington share a name. You seem to argue, however, that Saul of Tarsus actually was a direct descendant of King Saul. Other than the name, do you have evidence for this?

Regarding Jesus Barabbas - there is definitely something going on in those stories from the Gospels other than literal history. My argument would be that Mark developed the story as a literary technique - Pilate offers the Jews a choice between Jesus the son of God the Father and Jesus the son of God the Father. The first Jesus was a metaphor for the Jews themselves - a criminal who had "committed murder." The other Jesus was the "real" son of God the Father. The Jews, naturally, chose the first Jesus. For Mark, the Jews had "committed murder" too in the very act of rejecting Jesus.

So Barabbas seems to me to be a total literary creation of Mark, used as a metaphor for the Jewish people themselves - those people who rejected Christianity and were therefore accused of "murdering Jesus."

Judas the Galilean, on the other hand, simply seems to be Luke using his knowledge of Josephus. Josephus tells us that Judas led an uprising during the census of 6 C.E. Luke had referred to this census as happening when Jesus was born (which, of course, is a mistake). Perhaps, for Luke, he wanted to assert that Jesus was born during this time to imply that Jesus was following in Judas' footsteps - fellow Galileans as they were, Jesus was born as Judas died. That sort of thing.

Of course, Luke has is facts all wrong. First, Jesus can't have been born during the time of King Herod and the census under Quirinius. Herod had been dead for a long time by the time that census was taken, and the census was actually taken, no doubt, as a result of the changing political boundaries in the years after Herod died.

Second, Luke says that the uprising of Theudas happened before the uprising of Judas - when in fact Judas' uprising had occurred some 40 years earlier.

Roland E Bouchard said...

No, Scot... Saul of Tarsus and King Saul Are of the same 'tribe' or family... see Romans 11:1. But, in the last analysis there is no 'smoking gun' that remains written (obviously)... 'Paul' (and his cohorts: Mark and Luke) saw to that...

The only way to 'know' and understand that which i have written, is to 'remove' the over-barren 'image' of "Jesus Christ", -which, by the way, came into literary form only AFTER 'Paul's' epiphany (nearly ten years After 'the descendant of David and Jewish messiah' was crucified (IF chronology is to be true and believed)... I suspect that All has been altered... to fit an invented time-line...

With all due respect to you, Scot, We are 'arguing' over clearly muddied Text...

The Real question is Why... and Who 'muddied' the Text and, What was the 'intention'... so that we can argue 'ad in for item'... and never come to a (satisfactory) conclusion...

'Paul' actually succeeded in his goal... lol

Men will 'argue' 'til the end of time... All the while... never look to the 'truth'... which is within each of us... Not in a 'Book'.

Roland, -reluctant iconoclast.

p. s. I stand by what I have written... I Know your obstinacy well, -I can gauge it by by own...


Oh, BTW... FYI... There Is a made-for-TV Documentary re. "Jesus Barabbas" that Will be televised on HBO this fall... That... will really create some interesting 'excitement' and comment...

Scott said...

I'll have to see if I can watch the HBO documentary. It should be interesting.

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