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Can We Know Anything Historically About How Judas Iscariot Died?

In this post I continue with the New Testament accounts of the death of Judas Iscariot.  In my previous post I talked about the first account, found in Matthew. Now I look at the second (and only other) one, found in the early part of the book of Acts, written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke.   This post comes in two parts, both taken from my book The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.   In the first part I discuss the speech allegedly given by the apostle Peter to the other disciples in Acts 1, where he describes Judas’s death – in terms very different indeed from those found in Matthew.  Are these reconcilable?  In the second part I ask whether we can say anything *historically* about how Judas actually died.

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In his speech, Peter describes Judas’s death in graphic terms:

Now this one [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of his unrighteous act [the betrayal] and falling headlong he burst forth in the middle and all his intestines spilled out.  And this became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that this field is called “Akeldamach” in their own dialect, which means “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Interpreters of the New Testament have long been intrigued by this description of Judas’s death, both because of its similarities to the account in Matthew and because of its differences.  In both accounts Judas’s death is …

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Two Rather Bizarre Accounts of How Judas Died
The Death of Judas in Matthew

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Comments

  1. kadmiral
    kadmiral  June 7, 2018

    So yet again another irreconcilable contradiction in the inerrant word of God. Two issues: 1. How do you respond to those who revert to the doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in defense that these accounts (or any) must not really be contradictory, because the Holy Spirit is the real author of the inerrant Bible? 2. In your opinion, does the Bible itself even really teach the doctrine of inerrant Holy Spirit inspiration of Scripture?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      1. The question of whether there are contradictions needs to be resolved simply by seeing if there are contradictions. No one would read a book and say “there can’t be contradictions here” without first seeing if there *are* contradictions. Just look and see! 2. No, the Bible never teaches the modern fundamentalist understanding of inerrancy. It does talk about inspiration, but there can be different kinds and modes of inspiration.

      • prestonp  June 16, 2018

        What appear to be contradictions to some, may be explained by others. Plus, remember, all the errors and apparent contradicts add up to nothing that changes the fundament truths of Christianity, at least, according Bart.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 17, 2018

          I’ve never said that, and it’s not what I think.

          • prestonp  June 18, 2018

            “The position I argue for in Misquoting Jesus does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament”

            If I misinterpreted you here, I apologize.

          • Bart
            Bart  June 19, 2018

            Yes, I’m afraid you did. What I’ve said is that textual variants would not lead anyone to change their central Christain beliefs. I wasn’t talking about contradictions, discrepancies, varying views of theological importance, and so on. Those do not involve textual variants. (If you don’t know what I mean by “textual variant” let me know)

  2. Wilusa  June 7, 2018

    I’m more inclined to think people made up stories *because* they’d heard there was a field called the “Field of Blood” (without knowing the true origin of its name), and Judas had no connection with it. It’s understandable that there could have been *multiple* stories, once someone “got the ball rolling.”

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      If Judas had no connection with the field, it’s hard to explain why two independent stories connected him with it.

      • talmoore
        talmoore  June 8, 2018

        Dr. Ehrman, there actually is a reasonable explanation. The so-called Field of Blood is a place of clay earth, hence why it was also called the Potter’s Field, because it was a local source of clay for potters. Also, as you know, the words for blood, soil (clay) and red are related in Aramaic (as well as Hebrew) — Adam, adom, adama, dama, dam, etc. So calling the area Chaqqel Dama is likely a reference to its red clay deposits.

        Furthermore, because of its clay earth, Jews could not be buried there (as you know, Jews are traditionally interred in rock), so only non-Jews were buried there. By having Judas die in Chaqqel Dama, therefore, the first Christians were also suggesting that Judas was no longer a Jew worthy of a proper Jewish interment in rock.

        But there’s more. Chaqqel Dama is a cliff area that abuts the Valley of Hinnom, i.e. Gehenna, so by having Judas die there, he was also dying right next to “hell”. The symbolism would not have been missed by residents of Jerusalem.

        The original story was probably triggered off of Zechariah 11:12-13.
        12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
        13 And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

        The origin of the story probably went like this: Jesus’ remaining followers had no idea what happened to Judas, so, per usual, they searched scripture. They came across Zechariah 11:12-13. They concluded, aha! Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. So they asked, what did Judas do with that money? At this point, the tradition splits — one said that Judas directly bought the “Potter’s Field,” i.e. the field of clay next to Gehenna; the other said that Judas threw the blood money back into the Temple (“cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord”) and the priests used the money to buy the Potter’s Field. Either way, Judas came to reside at the Potter’s Field. And what was that field used for? It was used to bury non-Jews, which was fitting, because Judas, as a betrayer of the Messiah, was no longer a real Jew. And since the remaining loyal followers of Jesus had a revenge fantasy, they wished Judas would have died at Potter’s Field, a place for non-Jews, right next to the entrance to Hell itself. But, again, this is where the tradition splits — one said Judas hung himself there; the other said he fell (since it’s a cliff) and burst open at the bottom, which, again would be within the ravine of Gehenna, or Hell. It’s all conveniently constructed to be highly symbolic.

        Anyhow, the split in the traditional narrative is easily explanable as the kind of detail-filling one sees in oral transmission. The consistent soft details are that A) the blood money was used to purchase the Field of Blood, and B) Judas died there. Over the course of oral transmission, the hard details split into C) Judas purchasing the field vs. the priests purchasing the field, and D) Judas’ death by hanging vs. death by falling.

        Either way, it’s unlikely that the actual historical Judas had any connection whatsoever to said Field of Blood. In all likelihood, such a connection was the product of the fabrications and confabulations of the remaining followers. And whatever actually happened to Judas post-betrayal is completely lost to history.

  3. tomruda  June 7, 2018

    Can you talk more about the controversy over the name of Judas? In Hebrew, I understand the name would be Judah- a very common name at the time. An issue I remember reading about was the problem relating to Iscariot. Is there something that most scholars would agree on as its meaning? I heard Assassin as a strong possibility. I also read that this might be an indication of blaming all of Judah. Did Paul deal with Judas at all (Authentic Paul)?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      No, Paul never mentions Judas. There are numerous explanations of Iscariot; probalby the least problematic is that it identifies him as a “Man from Kerioth” (i.e. from a town of that name).

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      “Judas” as a name is controversial only if one argues that calling The Betrayer “Judas” in an indirect way of slandering the entire Jewish people.

      As for “Iscariot” — go back to the blog of June 3, “Why did Judas Iscariot betray Jesus” and check out the blogs there, including my own.

      I hold that “Iscariot” is a composite Hebrew/Latin name. “Is” is Hebrew and means “man.” In Latin, “sicarius” means “daggerl” “sicarii” is the Latin plural form. Remove one of the letter i’s, substitute “ot,” which is the Hebrew feminine noun plural ending, and you have “sicariot.” Combine that with “ish” and you have “Iscariot” — Judas the Daggerman, Judas the Man of Daggers.

      Calling him “Judas Iscariot” is like calling him Mack the Knife or Snoop Dogg. it’s a STREET name, not a proper family name!

      Go to Josephus. He speaks at great length about the “sicarii” of the time of the Jewish Revolt. They were Jews who got that Latin name because they used daggers to assassinate Romans (and sometimes other Jews who ran afoul of them). To this day, in SIcily and Mexico, a “sicario” is a hit man. In fact, the recent movie Sicario has an opening graphic in which it acknowledges the original sicarii, the Jewish rebels of the Jewish War 66-73 AD.

      Dr. Ehrman is surely aware — certainly by now — of this theory. He chooses the simpler theory that there may have been a town named “Kerioth.” But he himself admits that there is no such known town in Galilee. The only possible known town is one is southern Judea, maybe 200 miles from Galilee. MOST unlikely that Jesus would have recruited a man from there, when the gospel accounts say he recruited his followers from men who lived and worked around the Sea of Galilee.

  4. johnsotdj  June 7, 2018

    It is interesting that the “broken rope” theory has been going around for a long time. Those of us who embraced biblical inerrancy read the two accounts, noted the disparity, and mentally “filled in the blank” to make the stories work, and resolve the (apparent) conflict.

  5. Hormiga  June 7, 2018

    > There was a field in Jerusalem known for its rich clay, which potters used for their earthenware products. Because of the bright red composition of its soil, it was known not only as a potter’s field, but also as the Field of Blood.

    Wikipedia has an article on this, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akeldama , but it’s unclear to me just how much archaeological and/or geological support there is for its existence in 30-33 CE. Any pointers?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      The earliest evidence is the New Testament accounts of Matthew and Acts.

  6. talmoore
    talmoore  June 7, 2018

    Judas’ death accounts in the NT read like revenge fantasies on the part of Jesus’ remaining loyal followers. I would be surprised if anything from them is even remotely connected to historical reality.

  7. Hormiga  June 7, 2018

    Just a very idle speculation, but could the inclusion of the Field of Blood in the Judas story be a bit of motivated retrospective etiology? I.e., perhaps the field already existed under the name Akeldama and, years after the Crucifixion when early Christians were composing a story about Judas, they decided that the name fit into the narrative. Which story then diverged into the Matthew and Acts versions with successive tellings.

    (There should be an HTML tag for speculation.)

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      The question would be why two completely independent sources both connected the field with the death of Judas, in different ways. Something made them make that connection. (If only one had done it, there wouldn’t be a problem…)

  8. Tricia  June 7, 2018

    Actually, this is more tied to some historical context than I thought it might be. But then, I was raised with a Bible reading that was quite “errant.” So arriving at any historical context is good. How did “inerrant” get connected to Christian believing in the first place? Did/do the Jews assert any kind of inerrancy for the Hebrew Bible?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Most Jews don’t see the Bible that way, though some do. The Christian fundamentalist version started appearing at the end of the 19th century at the Niagara Conferences (you can google thenm to see)

      • Tricia  June 8, 2018

        So inerrancy probably came along with the Darby Bible and all the end-time mythology.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  June 8, 2018

      Orthodox Jews believe the Torah (the first five books) are literally the inerrant word of God. Non-orthodox Jews (conservative, reform, secular, etc.) rarely believe this.

  9. forthfading  June 7, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman
    We don’t hear much about the disciple who took Judas’ place. Are there any legends or stories about this disciple?

    Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Only what is found in Acts 1 (about Matthias). After he’s elected, he never reappears!

  10. fishician  June 7, 2018

    1. Are there any ancient references to a Field of Blood near Jerusalem, outside of the Gospels? 2. Since Deuteronomy 21:23 says anyone who is hung (from a tree) is cursed in the sight of God, was Matthew simply adding to Judas’s dishonor with this part of the story? Or, given the name Judas, was he implying that all the Jews are now cursed by God for killing Jesus? (suggested also in Matthew 27:25) Luke on the other hand tries to reconcile the Jewish and Gentile believers in some of his passages in Acts – maybe that’s why he left out the hanging part, understanding the implication?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      1. There are passages in the Talmud, I believe 2. Interesting idea. But I’m not sure Luke was equating “Judas” with “the Jew”

      • Altosackbuteer
        Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

        Check out the Rashi commentary to 21:23.

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      That is NOT what Deuteronomy 21:23 says — that anyone hanged from a tree is cursed by God.

      That is the false Christian interpretation of that passage.

      The TRUE interpretation is this: Man is made in the Image and Likeness of God the King. Therefore, leaving a man to hang overnight from a tree is a desecration of God’s name. Rashi says, it is like there are twin brothers, and one is king and the other hanged; if you LEAVE HIM HANGING, it LOOKS like you are hanging the King.

      The curse is NOT hanging, per se, which brings a curse; it is from LEAVING IT HANGING that desecrates the body, made in God’s image, which brings the curse. And the curse is NOT on the one who was hanged, but instead on those living people who allowed the desecration of the body by leaving it hanging.

  11. RonaldTaska  June 7, 2018

    Thanks! One of your usual good and easy to follow summaries.

  12. ardeare  June 7, 2018

    I’ve also considered the possibility that Judas may have hung himself and the story of his stomach bursting open was done with the help of some of his former colleagues.

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      That’s hardly likely, since Judas died, one way or another, shortly after Jesus had been arrested — and all the disciples had already fled for the hills.

  13. ask21771  June 7, 2018

    in ancient rome where clothes imported?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Not massively, no. Almost everything was done on site.

      • Altosackbuteer
        Altosackbuteer  June 9, 2018

        Silk was imported — and it was fabulously expensive. Worth more than its weight in gold.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 10, 2018

          I believe the person was asking about already- made clothes, not materials from which they could be made.

  14. Hume  June 7, 2018

    Bart, how do I get a book published! Do I need an agent?! The world needs to know what I think lol.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      It is extremely difficult if you’re not already connected to the publishing world (e.g., as a scholar). Yes, you almost certainly need an agent. But getting one ain’t easy. You have to have a very compelling project and product even to get a foot in the door.

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      You can self-publish. CreateSpace is an Amazon service which makes it quite affordable. You don’t need expensive vanity publishers any more.

      Of course, an entire world uses this service nowadays, so your book will be caught up in a huge crowd. Still, if it’s good, it may eventually stand out. It might help to send it along to professors or periodicals which could do book reviews.

  15. Hume  June 7, 2018

    I was in Jerusalem last summer and my guide took me in this cave and said this is where Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. I’m like that’s not what the bible says. She said, yeah. What do you think?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Yeah, she was makin’ that up. (Well the guide book she learned from made it up.)

  16. godspell  June 7, 2018

    Possible Judas had some kind of ailment that caused bloody vomit–or someone poisoned him. That could easily have been exaggerated in reminiscence.

    Or he could have been disemboweled by someone with a knife or sword, and then when his body was found, they assumed it was God’s punishment.

    Or he disemboweled himself, like a Middle Eastern samurai, and threw the knife away from him before he fell.

    (I read a lot of crime fiction.)

  17. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  June 7, 2018

    Despite the two accounts not being in agreement to one another can it be deduced historically that Judas did indeed die shortly after betraying Jesus instead of living long after?

    A second question off topic. I remember reading a criticism from a Jewish writer on the portrayal of the Jewish religious leaders in the Gospels. The criticism is that they’re written as two dimensional black and white mustache twirling villains and not as credible real life characters. An example given is that the Rabbis of the day wouldn’t object to healing or doing good on the Sabbath. Do you believe the religious leaders as portrayed in the Gospels are historically accurate depictions of how they truly acted and behaved? I do believe that the historical Jesus had conflicts with them however.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Yes, that’s my view. And yes, I think the portrayal of the religious leaders of the Jews in the Gospels is seriously skewed, for purposes of the story being told. Not all Pharisees, for example, were fantastically hypocritical. It’s a caricature.

      • Tricia  June 8, 2018

        Actually, I recall reading that Lazarus, the one Jesus called from the tomb, was a Pharisee. And so was Nicodemus and Paul. It seem to me that Jesus respected the Pharisees (with all their legalism) more than he did the Sadducees–who didn’t believe in an afterlife. But then I’ve always read that the Temple Jews in Jerusalem were a rather tight bunch–and the Jews in the diaspora less so. I’ve also read that the Pharisees at the time of Jesus actually had begun embracing some kind of afterlife. Isn’t it true that the Jewish religion really wasn’t much into an afterlife before that???

        • Bart
          Bart  June 10, 2018

          Lazarus occurs only in John’s Gospel (apart from Luke 16 — different Lazarus), but he is not said to be a Pharisee. Pharisees did, however, believe in the future resurrection. Not the Sadducees, who thought death was the end of the story. As to Jesus’ views of Pharisees, the most vitriolic passage is in Matthew 23, but there is plenty of vitriol elsewhere as well.

        • Altosackbuteer
          Altosackbuteer  June 10, 2018

          The Jewish concept of an Afterlife is “olam ha-ba,” the World to Come.

          Christians emphasize that it is the Afterlife which is all important; in Judaism, it is the opposite.

          The Catholic Baltimore Catechism commenced like this:

          Q: Who made me?

          A: God made me.

          Q: Why did God make me?

          A: To love and serve Him in this world, SO THAT I MAY BE HAPPY WITH HIM IN THE NEXT (world).

          In Judaism, the emphasis is entirely on doing the will of the Creator, and the Afterlife takes care of itself.

          As is written in the mishna Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), “Be not like a servant (slave) who serves his master (God) because he expects a reward (which is the Christian approach; serve God to receive a reward); rather, be like a servant who serves his master without regard for any reward (because your personal reward is irrelevant to the task at hand). And let the fear of Heaven be upon you.”

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      The New Testament has for centuries successfully SLANDERED the Jewish religion by imputing theologies to it which are plain FALSE.

      The issue of healing on the Sabbath is a BIG one.

      In Judaism, you are not only allowed to heal on the Sabbath; you are REQUIRED to perform healing on the Sabbath, and for precisely the reason Jesus gave — because the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

      In Orthodox Jewish families, when a pregnant woman might have to go to the hospital to deliver, and it’s almost the Sabbath, the woman will set aside money. If she goes into labor, someone calls for a taxi — a violation of the Sabbath. She will pay the cab driver — another violation. And she will ride in the taxi — another violation. And it’s ALL because her health outweighs the Sabbath — because, as Jesus said, the Sabbath was made for man.

      I know a young man who’s very overweight and has a big problem with sleep apnea. He had an experience not long ago where he tried doing without his oxygen machine on the Sabbath and it literally drove him crazy and into a hospital. So now a rabbi gave him a heter, which is to say, permission to violate the Sabbath by using the machine, because he NEEDS it to promote his health.

      Study Talmud Tractate Shabbat, I think around Page 30a. It states that for all but superficial scratches which do not penetrate the skin, one is not only allowed but REQUIRED to heal on the Sabbath.

      In the case of Jesus performing miraculous cures on the Sabbath, the problem is even less of a problem — for the simple reason that IT IS NO VIOLATION OF THE SABBATH TO PERFORM A MIRACLE on the Sabbath! Jesus could perform all the miracle cures he wanted on the Sabbath, and no Pharisee would have objected at all.

      The New Testament is in the business of slandering Judaism and the Jews with its false depictions of mythical fights between Jesus and the Pharisees. Maccoby argues that Jesus HIMSELF was a Pharisee!

      Here is an example of how the Gospels slander Judaism:

      Compare the account of Jesus and the Pharisee in Mark 12:27 and the parallel account in Matthew.

      In Mark — the earliest gospel, one written while the Christian anti-semitic polemic was at its weakest, not yet developed — there is a FRIENDLY exchange between Jesus and a Pharisee, upon being asked, what is the Greatest Commandment? The Pharisee and Jesus have a cordial, amiable exchange, and at the end, Jesus tells him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.”

      Compare the EXACT SAME STORY in Matthew, in which the friendly nature of the exchange has been obliterated and substituted with the caricature of the evil, hypocritical, pious fraud Pharisees.

      • webattorney  June 11, 2018

        As someone who came to learn of Christianity, when I first immigrated to US around age of 11, I was very confused why many Americans did not like Jews even when they professed themselves to be Christians. Didn’t they know the Christ himself was a Jew? So my reasoning at an early age went something like: How can a Christian worship the Jewish Son of God while not respecting the very religious tradition Christ came from? It was very confusing. Now days, I hear even Christian pastors saying as Christians we have to “have an affinity” for Judaism. I am an agnostic by the way.

        • Altosackbuteer
          Altosackbuteer  June 12, 2018

          Christianity derives its meaning from Judaism. Unlike Islam — which can stand alone and apart from either Judaism or Christianity — Christianity is meaningless without Judaism and the Old Testament. For example, the concept of “Messiah” is a Jewish one; without the original Jewish concept, the Christian claim that Jesus is the Messiah becomes meaningless. Christianity’s claim is that the purpose of the Old Testament is to prepare the way for Jesus, to make prophecies concerning the coming of Jesus; and the purpose of the new Testament is to show how these prophecies were fulfilled, and that the New Covenant of Jesus has replaced the Old Covenant of Abraham and Moses.

          (One of) Christianity’s problems is, how can it be both Jewish and not-Jewish at the same time?

          The Old Testament is the Book of the Jews. Therefore, and presumably, they OUGHT to know what IS THEIR OWN BOOK at least as well as Christians do. So when Christianity claims that there are numerous prophecies in the OT which were fulfilled in Jesus, and when Jews reject and rebut these claims as spurious — precisely because they DO know their own scriptures and what they really say, and see through the false Christian claims.

          No Christian can bear to be forced to acknowledge that the Jewish superiority in Scripture means that the Christian claims are false. But there is only one other reason why Jews would refuse to accept the (correct) Christian claims — because Jews are innately EVIL.

          THIS is what is at the heart of Christian discomfort with Jews and Judaism — because the living refusal of Jews to follow Jesus implies that Christianity is false for, if the Christians claims were true, then the Jews SHOULD be THE VERY FIRST ONES to convert.

  18. prestonp  June 7, 2018

    Matthew says the priest’s bought the field with the “blood money” that Judas returned (hence the field’s name); Acts says Judas bought it himself. Matthew says Judas hanged himself; Acts says he fell prostrate and burst open, spilling his intestines on the field (hence the field’s name). Bart

    The priests made the payment physically. Judas paid the price with his betrayal. He hung himself and after they took him down, they threw his corpse into the field where it busted open. Perhaps

    Remembering exactly what someone said 50 years prior is not as difficult or as rare as some may think. Vince Lombardi took young men and invested his time, his energy, his life and his heart into making them champions. He, too, spent several years, 24-7 (just about) preaching to them, day in and day out. He was a commanding figure to say the least. When he spoke, his players listened, fans listened and so did other coaches. He spoke with conviction and great persuasive passion. He was a charismatic man’s man and many of those young men grew to have great respect for and even to love the guy. (Ethel Kennedy was mysteriously attracted to him. She was floored by the power of his person when she chatted with him at a post super bowl party!).*

    Quite a few of those men still can recall numerous lessons, verbatim, that they heard him teach, that they learned from him many years before.

    *David Maraniss “When Pride Still Mattered”

  19. Tony  June 7, 2018

    The alternative is that Luke-Acts simply copied from Matthew and added more creative spin to the story. The facts also fit a model that have no independent attestations of Judas, but makes Judas a Mark creation to be embellished on by others.

    Here is Papias’ version of the death of Judas, probably written between 95-120:

    “Judas was a terrible, walking example of ungodliness in this world, his flesh so bloated that he was not able to pass through a place where a wagon passes easily, not even his bloated head by itself. For his eyelids, they say, were so swollen that he could not see the light at all, and his eyes could not be seen, even by a doctor using an optical instrument, so far had they sunk below the outer surface. His genitals appeared more loathsome and larger than anyone else’s, and when he relieved himself there passed through it pus and worms from every part of his body, much to his shame. After much agony and punishment, they say, he finally died in his own place, and because of the stench the area is deserted and uninhabitable even now; in fact, to this day one cannot pass that place without holding one’s nose, so great was the discharge from his body, and so far did it spread over the ground.”

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Ah! See today’s post!

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      That sounds a lot like the death of King Herod Agrippa I, as recorded by Josephus.

  20. caesar  June 8, 2018

    I have a hypothesis, and I want to find out if it’s at all conceivable. I’ve wondered if some of the disciples were just invented, perhaps just to get to the magic number 12…or that Judas was made up entirely, because it’s good fiction…it’s a much better story if there’s a traitor in your midst. I’m not a mythicist…but the disciples always seemed to me like tools that the gospel writers used to make points, and not so much like actual people. Is there a reasonable possibility that the 12 disciples described in the NT are a much different group than his actual disciples?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 8, 2018

      Interesting idea. Paul already knows there were twelve (1 Cor. 15:5), so the tradition would hvae to be very early.

      • Tony  June 8, 2018

        Twelve what? Paul identifies “the twelve” as having been subjected to a Jesus appearance. Paul only mentions the twelve once and never identifies who they are. Reading the Gospels back into Paul may lead one to the conclusion that they may have been disciples. However, nowhere in his letters does Paul mention disciples or describes disciples as a role. The alternate possibility is that the gospel writer(s) turned Paul’s anonymous twelve into Jesus’ disciples.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 10, 2018

          I’ve always thought he was referring to twelve armadillos, but it’s open to dispute!

          • Tony  June 10, 2018

            Unlikely, as armadillos, to my knowledge, do not occur in the Mediterranean area.

            However, it is apparent that NT scholarship is so Gospel soaked that it is unable and unwilling to address the fact that Paul is completely independent of, precedes, and is A SOURCE for the Gospels.

          • Bart
            Bart  June 11, 2018

            Hey, I’m not going to let factual information get in the way!

    • prestonp  June 8, 2018

      “I’m not a mythicist…but the disciples always seemed to me like tools that the gospel writers used to make points, and not so much like actual people”

      They were boobs.

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 8, 2018

      I think it no coincidence that just as there were 12 sons of Jacob, there too were 12 disciples of Jesus. In this way, the evangelist could more strongly knit and fuse the Old Testament to the New Testament.

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