How Did Judas Iscariot Die? Readers’ Mailbag June 18, 2017

Two questions in this week’s Readers’ mailbag.  The first concerns the very strange tradition about how Judas Iscariot actually died, as found in the writings of the early church father Papias; the second is about modern evangelical Christian biblical scholars: how do they deal with the fact that our manuscripts contain so many textual variants?  If you have a question, feel free to ask, and I’ll add it to the ever growing mailbag.

 

QUESTION:

Papias didn’t think very highly of Judas. I ...

Continue Reading →
18

Papias and the Eyewitnesses

I have been discussing the writings of Papias, his lost five-volume Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.  Scholars of the New Testament have long ascribed huge significance to this work, in no small part because Papias claims to have ties to eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus.   In my view this championing of Papias is misguided.   I say something about that in my new book on Jesus Before the Gospels (or whatever we end up ...

Continue Reading →
0

A Fantastic Saying of Jesus in Papias

I have mentioned one of the intriguing traditions found in the now-lost Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord by the early second century proto-orthodox church father Papias (his account of the death of Judas).  Here is another one.

In this one Papias is relating what he has heard that Jesus taught.  As you’ll see, it is not a teaching that is found in the New Testament Gospels, or in fact in any other Gospel source we have.

What is ...

Continue Reading →
29

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 ...

Continue Reading →
2

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 ...

Continue Reading →
28

Papias on Matthew and Mark

In my previous two posts I showed why Papias is not a reliable source when it comes to the authorship of Matthew and Mark.   If you haven’t read those posts and are personally inclined to think that his testimony about Matthew and Mark are accurate, I suggest you read them (the posts) before reading this one.

In this post I want to argue that what he actually says about Matthew and Mark are not true of our Matthew and Mark, and ...

Continue Reading →
32

Believing Papias When It’s Convenient

In my previous post I stressed that, contrary to what you sometimes may have heard or possibly will hear, Papias is not a *direct* witness to what the apostles of Jesus were saying.  That is an important point because of the most important “testimony” that Papias gives, a testimony that is often taken as very strong evidence that the second Gospel of the NT was written by Mark, the companion of Peter, and that the first Gospel was really and ...

Continue Reading →
24

Papias as an Earwitness?

I have discussed Papias a number of times on the blog in the past, but have not given any substantial time to him in a about a year and a half.   He is an important figure for historians of early Christianity, because, as I pointed out in my previous post, he was a proto-orthodox author from the first part of the second century.   More than anything, conservative biblical scholars have latched on to Papias because in their opinion he provides ...

Continue Reading →
31

Papias and the Gospels: Some Background

In my previous post I argued that sometime in the second half of the second century, an edition of the four Gospels was compiled by an unknown editor/scribe, and place in circulation in Rome, in which the texts were identified, definitively and possibly for the first time, as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.   Now the question is: why did these names come to be chosen?

This is a complicated question, and the answer is neither straightforward nor easy.   But I can ...

Continue Reading →
20

New Boxes: Oral traditions and the Dates of the Gospels

For the sixth edition of my New Testament textbook I have written twelve new “boxes.”   These are side-line discussions of interesting and relevant (if a bit tangential) issues of some importance for various aspects of the study of the New Testament.   I will post several of these, including these two here.  If these generate any questions, let me know, and I can follow up on them.

The two are about the Gospels: the first has to do with the ongoing nature ...

Continue Reading →
62
Page 1 of 2 12