What Does the Name Judas “Iscariot” Mean?

I received a number of questions about Judas Iscariot from my recent post.   I had dealt with many of these within living memory on the blog, but given their frequency, I think I should deal with them again.  Here is one of the most frequent:

QUESTION:

I read somewhere that “Iscariot” was a version of “Judas the Sicarii” which as it was handed down orally got altered. Is there any truth to this?

RESPONSE:

Behind this question is a bit ...

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The Quest for the Historical … Judas Iscariot

I occasionally (in fact, just last week) get asked if I think Judas Iscariot was a real person or a fictional character, wholly made up.  I have a definite view about that.  Real person.  Actually one of Jesus’ disciples.  And the one who betrayed him to the authorities leading to his arrest and crucifixion.

But what makes me think so?  I talked a bit about the “Quest of the Historical Judas” in a chapter of my book on the recent discovery ...

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Who Would Invent the Story of Women at the Tomb??

Who in the ancient world would ever try to *prove* the resurrection by making up a story that women, in particular, discovered Jesus’ empty tomb?   Weren’t women seen as complete unreliable witnesses?  Their testimony never even accepted in a court of law?  If someone want to prove that Jesus had been raised — and that therefore the tomb was empty — they would have invented *men* at the tomb (reliable witnesses) rather than *women* (untrustworthy).  Right?

I’ve been asked this question ...

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Why Was Jesus Crucified?

All the questions I get from members of the blog are good and interesting and deserve lengthy posts.  Every now and then I get one that is absolutely fundamental to understanding Jesus, the New Testament, and the history of early Christianity.  Here is one of them, from many years ago, with an issue that everyone interested in these topics really needs to have a reasoned view about.  Here’s the question, and my view

 

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QUESTION:

I don’t see the rationale ...

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But the Women Who Did *NOT* Doubt the Resurrection

In my previous post I noted something unusual about the doubting tradition in the resurrection narratives (i.e., the tradition that some of the disciples simply didn’t believe that Jesus was raised) – in addition, of course, to the fact that there is such a dominant doubting tradition! (itself a fascinating phenomenon) – which is that there is no word anywhere of the women who discover the tomb doubting, but clear indications (either by implication or by explicit statement) that some ...

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Why Would Jesus’ Disciples Doubt the Resurrection?

I was just now browsing through posts from seven years ago, and came across this one, which is related to questions I get from time to time.  It is an absolutely fundamental issue for Christian faith, but I almost *never* see anyone talk about it.  Surprising!  Here’s the interesting question and my response (back when I was starting just to do work on the resurrection stories for my book How Jesus Became God).

 

QUESTION:

Are we to understand from this that ...

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Does Isaiah 53 Predict Jesus’ Suffering and Death?

I have been talking about how the view of a future resurrection of the body came from.  This idea, that we would live forever in our bodies (if we were among the “righteous”) was repugnant to just about everyone  in the ancient world.  But it became a widely held view among Jews, and was taken up with passion by the early Christians.  These Christians appealed to the Jewish Bible for support of their view, even though “resurrection” is actually ...

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Was James the Actual Brother of Jesus?

I’ve started talking about the epistle of James, first in relation to Paul (yesterday) and then in relation to … James, the man himself, Jesus’ brother (today).   My ultimate goal is to explain why I’m sure James himself did not write the letter (later).  But in the meantime I’ve received a question that I should probably address first: did Jesus really have a brother named James?   Uh… don’t a lot of Christians think that Jesus never had any siblings (since ...

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An Official Copy of Jesus’ Death Sentence: Another Forgery?

I have been intermittently posting accounts of modern forgeries of Gospels that provide, as a rule, sensationalized information about the “lost” records of Jesus – for example an account claiming he traveled to India as a young man to learn his wisdom from the Brahmins, or another purportedly based on an eyewitness to the crucifixion.

Here now is yet another, this one an allegedly official copy of the death sentence from his trial, written by Pontius Pilate himself, in Hebrew no ...

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Was Jesus Perfect? Then How Was He Human?? Guest Post: Jeffrey Siker

Another guest post by Jeffrey Siker, raising a very hard question with some peculiar answers and a provocative suggestion.

Jesus and Sinlessness: Metaphor and Ontology, Blog 3

In the two previous posts I have shown how the tradition developed that Jesus was sinless, namely, retrospectively in light of resurrection faith.  If Jesus was raised to divine stature at the right hand of God, then surely he must have been God’s divine Son throughout his public ministry (even if hidden by a messianic ...

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