Two Rather Bizarre Accounts of How Judas Died

In my experience, most people don’t realize that there are two different accounts of Judas’s death in the New Testament, let alone that these two are very difficult indeed to reconcile with one another.  Virtually impossible, I would say.  But even more people don’t know that there are accounts of Judas’s death from *outside* the New Testament in other sources.  One of these two almost *nobody* knows about, except for a few specialist scholars.

The first account comes to us from ...

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The Different Terms for Literary Deception

In the Seminar on Ancient Forgery at Rice University a few days ago, I made a presentation in which I urged (all of us) scholars to decide on which terms we use to describe different kinds of literary phenomena associated in one way or another with literary deceit.

My view is that since there are different phenomena (even if these can overlap), we ought to have distinct terms to refer to them – otherwise it just gets confusing.  It can be ...

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Different Kinds of Literary Deceit

In my presentation to the seminar on forgery at Rice University a few days ago, I dealt with a problem facing scholars who study literary deceit in antiquity.   On the most basic level, no one – even experts – seems to agree even on which terms to use to describe this or that kind of ancient deceptive practice.   It would be worth devoting a couple of blog posts to the issue.  As it turns out, it was also subject of ...

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Do We Know How Paul Died?

In response to a question about what we know about the deaths of the apostles yesterday (short answer: almost nothing!) I talked about the hints about Peter’s death in the NT, and the later legend about it in the apocryphal Acts of Peter.  Today I can talk about what we know about the legends about the martyrdom of Paul, from the equally apocryphal Acts of Paul.  Here is what I say about it in my book Peter, Paul, and Mary ...

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The Legend of Peter’s Martyrdom

QUESTION:

Can you do a post on what we know about the deaths of the Apostles from the early sources and include your opinions?

 

RESPONSE:

Many, MANY Christians have argued that Jesus must have been raised from the dead, because “all the apostles” died for their faith, and “no one would die for a lie.”  The latter of course, is not true, as people die for lies all the time (for example, in war); but that’s not really the point.   The point ...

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Pilate’s *Own* Account of Why He Crucified Jesus

I have been talking about how Pontius Pilate becomes increasingly innocent over time in Christian accounts of the death of Jesus.  One of my arguments is that the motive behind this exoneration of the Roman governor is an attempt to blame “the Jews” for killing their own messiah.  This exoneration increases over time and after a while stops being at all subtle.

Check out this non-canonical account that allegedly gives Pilate’s own version of the matter.  This is in an apocryphal ...

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How Was Jesus *Really* Born? The Proto-Gospel of James

In my last post I mentioned the Proto-Gospel of James in relation to a textual variant (in Luke) that indicates that Mary gave birth not *in* Bethlehem but *en route* there.   That made me think it would be a good time to say something about what else is in this intriguing book.  You can find my recent translation of it in the collection of non-canonical Gospels that I edited, translated, and introduced with my colleague Zlatko Plese, called The ...

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Small Differences that Make a Difference

Here is something different on the significance of textual variants for understanding the Greek New Testament.   Most of the hundreds of thousands of variations are completely insignificant in the big overall scheme of things (e.g., misspelled words and slips of the pen); others involve enormous differences that matter a lot (the story of the woman taken in adultery).  Lots of others are between the two, small differences that are interesting for how they might change the meaning of a passage ...

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Jesus Kissing Mary Magdalene: A Blast From the Past

Now for something *completely* different.  Here is a question that was asked and answered almost exactly four years ago, of ongoing intrigue!

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QUESTION:

I know that the “Gospel of Philip does not have much if any real historical veracity to it about Jesus’ life, but does the references about Jesus and Mary Magdalene being lovers and the holes in the papyrus ‘kissing’ verse (verses 32 and 55 in your “Lost Scriptures” book), help support the view that this ...

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Paul and His Female Disciple Thecla

I’m in the middle of talking about whether Paul wrote the verses now found in 1 Cor. 14:34-35, or if they were later added to his letter by an editor/scribe.  To make sense of what I have to say next about the issue I need to provide just a bit more background, specifically about a legendary figure well known in the early church, but not widely known about today outside the realm of early Christianity scholarship.  This is a one-time-household-name: ...

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