Did Judas Betray Jesus?
Or
Did Christianity Betray Judas?

April 25, 2006

Authentic letter confirms trustworhiness of Judas

“Christians wrote letters and memoranda and other documents, but the oldest one to survive if it is authentic, as it appears to be -is a letter from the Church of Jerusalem to gentile Christians (Acts 15:23-29), about the year 47.

“The apostles and the elders, bretheren, to the gentile bretheren in the Vicinity of Antioch and Syria and Cilcilia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons coming from us have disturbed you with words, unsettled your minds (although we gave them no instructions) it has seemed good to us in assemby to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have given up their lives form the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.

“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no burden except these necessary matters: for you to have been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from fornification.” Robert M. Grant, Professsor of New Tesatamet and Early Christianity The Formation of the New Testament, 1965 (Page 15) Hutchison Universal Library

New Testament Lied about Judas

The Judas story was plainly a Christian episode fabricated by writers, embellishers and editors many decades after the event. By persons whose objective was to blur Roman responsibility for the death of Jesus, and to pin it on the Jews.

However, they were too ignorant of Jewish religious practices and customs to get it right. Their accusations, consequently, are evident, even preposterous.

Judas is hated as the betrayer of Jesus – even though Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the Temple police knew him very well and could have arrested him any day of their choosing. All four Gospels quote Jesus making this important statement.

Matthew writes: “Then . . . Judas went to the chief priests and asked ‘What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?’ They counted out 30 silver coins and gave them to him.” (Matthew 26:14-16.)

Since the priests knew where to find Jesus whenever he prayed in the Temple why would they have needed anyone to “betray” him? Why would they have paid Judas 30 pieces of silver for a totally unnecessary service?

Indeed, since Judas must undoubtedly have known that the priests knew where to find Jesus at prayer in the Temple, why would he have offered to supply information which was public knowledge – and expect to get paid for it?

Given this background how can we posssibly believe Judas would even have propositioned the priests? For Judas must have known that the priests knew where to find Jesus if they wanted him. And if by some quirk Judas did not, that would not alter the fact that the priests knew. Jesus said so in all four Gospels. Let us examine the Judas story in each.

Matthew’s Gospel 26:14. About 77 A.D.

“Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.”

Matthew not only mentions the amount of the bribe but states Judas was paid in advance. (How exceedingly strange.) Matthew goes on to describe how Judas kissed Jesus to identify him to the arresting officers.

Matthew 26: 55-56

55. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?”

56: “I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.”

While it is unclear to which scriptures Jesus refers, it is entirely clear that the priests knew who he was and could have arrested him any time of their choosing. There was obviously no reason for the priests to employ Judas to betray him.

Matthew (or more probably his later editors and embellishers) has Judas repent his betrayal and attempt to return the 30 silver coins. The priests refuse to accept the money. Thereupon Judas hangs himself. However, their clumsy fabrications are illogical and do not hold water.

Because Jesus’ words in Matthew 56 above, completely undermine the validity of the crude betrayal plot pinned on Judas.

Mark’s Gospel. About 72 A.D.

Mark, writer of the first Gospel, was not a disciple of Jesus. He was a disciple of Peter. Here is his version of the Judas episode.

Mark 14: 10-11

10: “And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.”

11: “And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.”

Mark does not mention 30 pieces of silver and its payment. He does not say Judas tried to return the money. Nor that he hanged himself.

Luke’s Gospel 92 A.D.

Luke was not a disciple of Jesus. He never saw him in his lifetime. He is a disciple of Paul (who was not a disciple of Jesus). Luke’s authenticity is third-hand. Nevertheless Luke was something of an historian and the single most prolific contributor to the New Testament.

Insofar as the Judas story is concerned he follows Matthew except for significant differences.

Luke 22: 47-48

47: “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.”

48: “But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”

One must wonder why the historian in Luke omits mentioning the 30 pieces of silver and Judas’ attempt to return it. Why does he not mention that Judas hanged himself? We don’t know. But it raises the strong suspicion that these aspects did not in fact occur in Mark, nor in Matthew’s original Hebrew manuscript.

Moreover Luke does not say Judas kissed Jesus, only that he drew near to kiss him. In this Luke differs from Mark and Mathew.

Jesus repeats the fact, in Luke 22: 52-53, that the priests and Temple police knew him and could have arrested him any day he preached there.

John’s Gospel, 100 – 110 A.D.

It is not known whether John, last of the Gospel writers, is John, Jesus’ disciple. With certain omissions John follows Mark and Luke in the story of the betrayal.

After supper Jesus and his disciples retire to the brook of Kidron. John does not have Judas come here with a large number of persons armed with swords and staves. No motley crowd, no “multitude”. He is instead accompanied only by a small group of Roman soldiers and some Temple guards.

However, the presence of the guards is not tenable since there was no love lost between the Romans and the Jews. They were enemies. The Romans, therefore, would not have lowered themselves to ask for Jewish help to make an arrest, nor in fact did they need it. This insertion is clearly intended to implicate the Jews in Jesus’ arrest.

Contrary to Jesus’ repeated prophecy, Judas neither identifies Jesus nor betrays him with a kiss. Jesus simply asks the soldiers who they are looking for. On being told “Jesus of Nazareth” he immediately responds “I am he.”

John does not mention the 30 pieces of silver; nor Judas’ attempt to return the money; nor Judas’ remorse; nor his subsequent suicide.

Since John obviously relied on prior sources to compile his Gospel (in addition to his own creative contribution) it can be assumed that this information did not exist in these sources in his time.

From this we can safely deduce that the segments regarding the betrayal episode were inserted into Mark, Matthew and Luke after John wrote his gospel.

Lack of credible motivation for Judas’ “crime”

Casting serious doubt on the authenticity of the Judas episode is the complete lack of credible motivation.

Money could not have been the incentive since Judas was the trusted treasurer of the disciples. If there was any suspicion that he was a dishonest person he would not have been accepted as a disciple in the first place. Nor, obviously, would he have been made treasurer of the group.

Indeed, if it was only money Judas was after, he could have simply taken it from the group’s purse. It was unlikely anyone would have known the difference. However, according to Mark, Matthew and Luke, he did not steal from the community’s purse.

John, or his later embellishers, writing 100 to 110 years after Jesus’ death, does indeed accuse Judas of being a thief. (John 12: 6)

This cannot be true – no other gospel evidence supports this. Yet even if we are to believe it is true, it would merely emphasize the fact that Judas was never in need of 30 pieces of silver.

Judas was to all intents and purposes a respected disciple who completely accepted Jesus’ teachings. He was as hopeful as were all the disciples, that Jesus was the long awaited messiah who would bring about the downfall of Roman tyranny and redeem the Jewish nation.

Yet the New Testament would have us believe that Judas would actually have prevented the salvation of the Jewish people and its freedom from the Roman yoke . . . in exchange for 30 stupid silver coins!

To suggest that this was Judas’ motivation is fiction of low degree. Only writers ignorant of the depth of Jewish longing for the messiah could postulate it. The Gospel accounts fail to provide any credible motivation for Judas’ alleged betrayal.

The Seder and The Last Supper

Thirteen Jews had come together to celebrate the Passover “Seder” – and all four Gospels transformed this event into the Christian Last Supper. None describes the Jewish Passover Seder. Items:

• Jesus refers to eating bread with his wine, but being the night of Passover, bread was forbidden. Only the unleavened bread we call ‘matzo’ was permitted.

• Missing is the quintessential element, namely that God had ordained an annual commemoration of that momentous time when He freed the Jews from Egyptian slavery.

• Missing is the pivotal Passover commandment in Exodus 13: 8-10 “And thou shalt tell thy son . . .” the story of how we were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. And how we were freed by the mighty hand of God and brought to the land of Israel.

• Missing are not only the sons of the disciples but their fathers, mothers and daughters too. No female is present!

• The Passover Seder however, was a family affair. It was a time for retelling the story of our freedom from slavery and for celebrating with a festive meal. We have kept this tradition for some 3,400 years.

The New Testament narration of Judas as betrayer has been the direct cause of the death of millions of Jews at the hands of faithful Christians. It is a shameful history based on a preposterous fabrication which distorts the truth about Jews in the time of Jesus. How sad that so many Christian ‘soldiers’ continue to march to the sound of that false drumbeat.

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3 Responses to “Did Judas Betray Jesus?
Or
Did Christianity Betray Judas?”

  1. Leon Zitzer Says:

    You make a lot of good points and your intuitions are very good. I just wanted to let you know that not only can a lot more be said in defense of Judas, but it is also possible to prove that Judas was a very real and very innocent person who was helping Jesus at the very end.

    It is well known now, due mainly to William Klassen, that “betray” is a mistranslation of the Greek word used to describe Judas’ action. The word is neutral in connotation. Also, as you have observed, the story is basically missing all the elements of a betrayal, including a motive or conflict with Jesus. There are not even recriminations from other disciples after the supposedly dirty deed was done. And in Mark’s version, there is not even one unequivocally negative detail about Judas. Every single item is ambiguous and could just as easily have a positive meaning for Judas. This is no way to tell the story of a traitor. Something else is going on here.

    I tell the full story in my own book on this, “The Ghost in the Gospels”. It fits logically with the proof that Jewish leaders were not persecuting Jesus either. They too were helping him and trying to save him from a Roman persecution. There is so much evidence to support all this. Check out my blog and you will get just a hint of what I do.

    historicaljesusghost.blogspot.com

  2. Lewis Lofln Says:

    This is very close to what I believe when I read the Bible, but is more detailed. It seemed to me Jesus knew just what he was doing and was trying to fulfill a prophecy he just didn’t fit into. The Romans were the clear culprits, but so was Jesus.

    He knew it was coming and walked into it. The mistake cost him his life and sadly that of millions of Jews.

  3. Marion Karr Says:

    This is an interesting and very well thought out discussion on the role of Judas. For years I have struggled with Judas as being evil. My feeling is that Judas actually recognized Jesus for who he really was the Living God in the form of the Son. As you pointed out the longing for the messiah was and is the key focus point of the Jewish experience I believe Judas actually got it that Jesus was finally IT!!! It just seems to me that Judas was trying to accelerate the process and that he never in a million years thought Jesus, the Son of God, would really allow himself to be crucified. Instead, he would bring the powers of Heaven to bring the kingdom to earth in a spectacular and amazing way, release the yoke of oppression from Roman rule, restore the sanctity of the faith, and restore earth to God’s magnificent creation that sin had tarnished.

    Just my thoughts. Good discussion here.

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