Sorting by


Other Accounts of the Death of Judas

As I indicated in the previous post, there are two versions of the death of Judas Iscariot in the New Testament.   These versions have some striking similarities, but at the end of the day, I think they cannot really be reconciled with one another.   After the New Testament period, there were legends about Judas’s death that continued to be invented and circulated.  I discuss one of them in my college-level textbook on the New Testament, in a side-bar that I meant to be a kind of humorous human interest story.  Here is what I say there:  When trying to determine which stories in the Gospels are historically accurate, we need to look not only at the Gospels of the New Testament, but at all the surviving ancient narratives that discuss Jesus’ life. In many instances, however, the accounts are quite obviously legendary, written for the entertainment, edification, or even instruction of their readers. One occurs in a fourth- or fifth-century document known as the Gospel of Nicodemus (also called the Acts of Pilate). In one [...]

My Trip to Turkey

I am en route to Istanbul now with a layover, at this moment, as we speak, in London’s Heathrow airport.   I’ll be in Turkey for nearly three weeks.   This is a trip sponsored by my home institution, the General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   As is true of most universities, UNC has a vibrant travel program for alumni.   Trips can be on the expensive side, but they are usually fantastic.  As the guest lecturer, I get a free trip out of it. There are four people connected with the blog on the trip (maybe more: but there are four that I know of so far).  (It may seem strange, but one does not have to be an alum of the university to go on an alumni trip!)   It is intentionally a small group, just twenty-five of us. Turkey is one of the great places on earth, with a massive and varied cultural history.   My lectures concern only one small part of the Turkish legacy.  As it turns out, this [...]

The Death of Judas in the NT

In this and the next couple of posts I will be talking about what we know was in Papias’s five-volume book, now lost, Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.  As I previously indicated, the only reason we have any clue about the matter is that later church fathers quoted a few passages from the book.  Would they had quoted more!  But what they give us is very tantalizing. The first passage I want to discuss involves the death of Judas Iscariot.  To make sense of what Papias has to say, I need to provide some context. Many people don’t realize that Judas’s death, after he betrayed Jesus, is not mentioned in three of our Gospels:  Mark, Luke, and John.   It is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, however, and just as important, in the book of Acts, written by the same author who produced the Gospel of Luke (so, well, let’s call him Luke).   What is striking is that the descriptions of Judas’s death in these two accounts are at odds with one, even [...]

2020-04-17T13:32:44-04:00June 2nd, 2015|Acts of the Apostles, Canonical Gospels|

The Lost Writings of Papias

In this thread I have been discussing documents known from early Christianity that no longer exist and that I very much wish would be discovered.  So far I have talked about the lost letters of Paul, the writings of Paul’s opponents, Q (the source used by Matthew and Luke for many of their sayings of Jesus), and the Signs Source (a collection of Jesus miraculous activities used by the Gospel of John).   With this post I move outside the New Testament to indicate documents that certainly at one time existed that I wish we still had.   One such document was a five-volume book produced by a church father named Papias. We don’t have this long book any longer.   In fact we don’t have any of the writings from Papias.  We know about him, and his writings, only because later church fathers refer to him.  He is first mentioned in the writings of Irenaeus, the bishop of Gaul and himself the author of a long five-volume work that attacked heretics (especially Gnostics).  Irenaeus’s book is known [...]

Go to Top