11 votes, average: 5.00 out of 511 votes, average: 5.00 out of 511 votes, average: 5.00 out of 511 votes, average: 5.00 out of 511 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.

The Name Judas Iscariot: What Does It Mean?

Several members of the blog have commented on my posts about the death of Judas by asking about his name itself.  Most interesting, what does “Iscariot” mean?  I deal briefly with the topic in my book on Judas, a book in which I deal at length with the newly discovered Gospel of Judas, but then go on to say what I think we can actually know historically about the man himself, and his one most famous nefarious act, the betrayal of Jesus.  Here is what I say about the name.


The Name Judas Iscariot

Sometimes knowing the names of persons from antiquity can give further information about them.  People of the lower classes did not have last names, and so to differentiate people with the same first name, descriptive designations were often added.  For example, there are several different Marys in the New Testament.  “Mary” was one of the most common names in first-century Palestine.  And so each New Testament Mary is given some kind of identifying feature: Mary “the mother of Jesus”; Mary “of Bethany”; Mary “Magdalene.”  This last designation indicates that this Mary came from the town of Magdala, which was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee. Thus, simply by knowing what she was called, we can learn some information about her.

Some people have hoped that …

To read the rest of this post, you need to shell out and join the blog.  Reality: it doesn’t cost much, less than fifty cents a week.  You get tons for your money and every penny goes to charity.  So why not???

You need to be logged in to see this part of the content. Please Login to access.

Does the Book of Acts Accurately Portray the Life and Teachings of Paul?
Why Would I Call Myself Both an Agnostic and an Atheist? A Blast from the Past



  1. Avatar
    gavriel  June 12, 2018

    A. The argument that Kerioth probably didn’t exist 1200 years after Joshua is incorrect isn’t it? What matters is the time of the writing of Joshua?
    B. The fact that there is no clear symbolism in the name should add reason to think that Judas is not an invented figure?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 14, 2018

      A. If Judas came from there, it wasn’t in the time of Joshua! B. Yup.

      • Altosackbuteer
        Altosackbuteer  June 18, 2018

        I agree. Even if one argues that “Iscariot” means not “man of Kerioth” but instead “man of daggers,” the same conclusion should be drawn; one would hardly invent Judas AND give him THAT name of “Iscariot”!

  2. Avatar
    Todd  June 12, 2018

    This is very interesting. There is so much in this ancient document that we can’t understand, but there so many things here and there that we can discover that are often very simple that can have practical meaning to us today that can make life much better, such as…”God is love and those who love, god lives within them.” So, it is better to love than hate. Simple things can make our lives better.

    One thing that makes my life better…I seem to have gotten reconnected with you and your fine posts. Your daily articles and books teach me new things every day, and that is good. Thank you.

  3. Avatar
    saavoss  June 12, 2018

    What is YOUR opinion on this topic? Oftentimes scholars will disagree about the meaning of things/words. Since I am reading Your blog I’d like to hear Your opinion, not a survey of what many other scholars think.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 14, 2018

      I thought I gave it! Man of Kerioth.

      • Altosackbuteer
        Altosackbuteer  June 14, 2018

        If “Iscariot” means “man of Kerioth,” then why did the evangelists think it was necessary to state where Judas came from, if they didn’t think it was necessary to state where any of the other disciples came from? What was so unusual about “Kerioth” that it deserved a mention?

        But we DO know that the gospels give certain pieces of DESCRIPTIVE information about some of the apostles. Simon was “Cephas / Peter;” two of the disciples were nicknamed “Boanerges / sons of thunder;” and there was Simon the Zealot which, in the parlance of the 1st century, is an UNMISTAKEABLE reference to a Jewish resistance fighter, like calling someone today an “ISIS jihadist.”

        If these other names tell us something personal and descriptive about these other disciples, why then would the evangelists make an exception for Judas and tell us WHERE he came from? It doesn’t fit the pattern.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 15, 2018

          It was to differentiate him from the other persons also named Judas (including one of Jesus’ brothers).

          • Altosackbuteer
            Altosackbuteer  June 16, 2018

            That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that. But given that there is no known village of “Kerioth” in Jesus’ time, and the only known such village from the Old Testament was in southern Judea, about 200 miles away from the Sea of Galilee, at the time of Joshua son of Nun, it seems rather weak to me.

            Given that the evangelists refer to Simon the Zealot, which unmistakably refers to Simon’s support of violent revolution, the idea of “Iscariot” = “Man of Daggers” seem inevitable to me. If Jesus had one KNOWN Zealot, it’s likely others were, too.

            As you have noted, it is passing strange that all the disciples were recruited locally around the Sea of Galilee but Judas was from 200 miles away. If that is true, why not call him “Judah Ish-yudea”?

          • Bart
            Bart  June 17, 2018

            You’d have to explain why he wasn’t called Judas the Zealot (or Simon Iscariot) then.

  4. talmoore
    talmoore  June 12, 2018

    Yup, definitely a head-scratcher. I’ve gone through at least a dozen possibilities over the years.

  5. Altosackbuteer
    Altosackbuteer  June 12, 2018

    There is a phenomenon in languages that a word from Language A is borrowed by (speakers of ) Language B, which then adapts the meaning for its own purposes, and that ADAPTED meaning then returns to its original language (Language A) in is altered meaning.

    Two examples:

    1) Robot. A robot is a mechanical slave, sometimes resembling the shape of a human being, especially in science fiction literature. It is originally from the Polish / Russian noun “robota” which means “work.” In the early 20th century, science fiction writers borrowed the word “robota” from Russian and used it to describe their mechanical men, doing so because this was their way of making a statement about the soulless nature of Russian Communism and how it stole peoples’ souls from them.

    (By the way, this is precisely the same point L. Frank Baum made in the Wizard of Oz when he wrote about the Tin Man needing to go to the Emerald City because he had no heart and wanted The Wizard to give him one; in Baum’s story, the reason the Tin Man had no heart was because the dirty Capitalist factory owners took it away from him and all their other little tin men robots with their stultifying, factory assembly line work.)

    Anyway — the Russian (and Polish) word “robota” became the English word “robot,” and in that altered form and meaning has made its way back to Russian and Poland, where Russians and Poles build and use as many robots as does the rest of the world.

    (By the way, the German “Arbeit,” which also means “work,” has the same consonants RBT as does the Russian / Polish “RoBoTa.)

    2) Assassin. We all know what that word means. But the origin of our modern meaning comes from the Middle Ages. Just before and during the Crusades, there arose the Cult of the Old Man of the Mountain, who persuaded followers that he (the Old Man) had transported them into Paradise where they enjoyed hookers, hookahs, HASHISH, and wine, until the Old Man cut them off.

    There is a saying, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but no one actually wants to die to get there.” Well, that WASN’T true of the Old Man’s followers! They REALLY DID want to die to get to Heaven. Because, they believed THEY HAD ALREADY BEEN IN HEAVEN — thanks to the Old Man doping them up with HASHISH. So they were the PERFECT killers — or ASSASSINS. Utterly unafraid to die.

    Because they were doped up on HASHISH, the killers became known as “HASHISHIN,” which we have borrowed from Arabic and render as “assassin,” and that word has returned to Arabic with the new meaning.


    Which brings us to the issue of Judas Iscariot.” Does his name derive from the Latin noun “sica,” which Professor correctly states is the Latin word for “dagger”? And has his very name done what robota and hashish did — make a round trip back to their home languages with an altered meaning?

    Professor doesn’t think so. But I beg the professor to consider another cognate Latin noun “sicarius.” This noun derives from “sica” and refers to the PERSON who HOLDS the dagger — in the identical way that “gladiator” derives from the Latin noun “gladius” which refers to the Spanish short sword that the legions used.

    It is well-known that Josephus wrote at great length about the sicarii who in the years before and during the Jewish Revolt practiced assassination. “Sicarii”” is simply the plural form of “sicarius.”

    So WE KNOW that the words “sicarius” and “sicarii” were in COMMON usage in the 1st century.

    It is a FACT that to this day, in Mexico and Sicily, a “sicario” is a paid killer. The recent movie Sicario, which is about hit men involved in gang and drug wars in Mexico (I hear a sequel is due to come out), has a graphic at the beginning of the movie which acknowledged the original sicarii of the time of the Jewish Revolt 66-73 AD. The graphic concludes with a statement, “In Mexico, ‘sicario’ means ‘hit man’.”


    Everyone seems to agree that the “IS” of “Iscariot” refers to the Hebrew / Aramaic noun “ish” meaning “man.” The debate is over what the rest of the name means.

    I argue that “sicar” derives from “sicarius.” (By the way, our common words “cigar” and “cigarette” derive from “sicar-ius;” both of those objects are long and slender, like a dagger.)

    In Hebrew, “iot” or “ot” is the way feminine nouns form their plurals. For example, in modern Hebrew, a “mechanit” which means “automobile” becomes “mechaniot” in the plural. And “hosheana” (which means “hosanna”) becomes “hosheanot” — “hosannas.”


    So let’s now put it all together.

    We got “ish-sicar-iot.” The Latin noun has somehow acquired a pretty feminine Hebrew skirt — “sicar-iot.” — “daggers,” or “daggermen.” It is a compound noun with elements from two languages.

    Add the “ish,” and now you got “Iscariot.”


    Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

  6. Avatar
    fishician  June 12, 2018

    1. Is there any known use of the term/name “Iscariot” other than in association with Judas? 2. Also there is Joseph of Arimathea, and I’ve never read any convincing theory on where or what Arimathea was. Is it possible that story tellers just made up these words, like novelists invent names for their characters?

  7. Avatar
    Stephen  June 12, 2018

    That’s an interesting idea, that the writers of the New Testament might be passing on information that they themselves do not understand. Are there other examples from the NT where scholars think this might be the case?


    • Bart
      Bart  June 14, 2018

      Ah, good question. I’ll have to think about it!

    • talmoore
      talmoore  June 14, 2018

      I, for one, wouldn’t mind a solid provenance for Βοανεργές! That one is just as headache-inducing as Iscariot.

      • Altosackbuteer
        Altosackbuteer  June 16, 2018

        We know about Simon the Zealot, which inmistakably places Simon in the party of the Zealots, men who advocated armed resistance to the Romans.

        Judas Iscariot — for the sake of argument here — means “Judas the Daggerman,” “Judas the Hit-Man.”

        And Boarneges means “sons of Thunder.”

        ALL of these disciples — arguably at least — had nicknames which implied VIOLENCE.

        I submit, this is the common thread here, and if Jesus truly were the Prince of Peace, he kept VERY strange company.

  8. Altosackbuteer
    Altosackbuteer  June 12, 2018

    Professor — you correctly noted that “sica” means “dagger.”

    But you neglected to mention that a related, cognate, and perfectly usable noun, likewise in Latin, is “sicarius,” and refers to the PERSON who HOLDS the dagger. In the same fashion, Latin derives “gladiator” from the noun “gladius,” which refers to the Spanish short sword used by the legions.

    “Sicarius” more closely resembles “Iscariot” than does “sica.”

    Which, in my humble view, strengthens the argument that “Iscariot” means “daggerman” and is no reference to any place of origin.

    Professor, surely you know that Josephus refers to the “sicarii” on numerous occasions, so WE KNOW that “sicarius” was a word in common usage in the 1st century.

  9. Avatar
    Pattylt  June 12, 2018

    Since you mentioned the book of Jude may I ask a quick question? Nowhere does Jude state that he is the brother of Jesus but was it assumed to be written by Jesus’ brother early on? Do you think Jude was trying to pass himself off as Jesus’ brother or was this an innocent case of others giving him more credit than he was aiming for?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 14, 2018

      In my book Forgery and Counterforgery I argued he wsa trying to make it clear that he was the brother of James, the brother of Jesus.

  10. Avatar
    ardeare  June 13, 2018

    Whatever it meant, it definitely was intended to identify this particular Judas versus any other. While I know you don’t agree, I believe the same is true of Joseph of Arimathea.

  11. Avatar
    darren  June 13, 2018

    Unrelated to your post, but to your workplace: god looks like a white dude!

  12. Avatar
    truthseekerofallthings  June 13, 2018

    Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon and the infamous apostle who betrayed Jesus. The Bible provides little direct information about the family and background of Judas. Both he and his father were called Iscariot. (Lu 6:16; Joh 6:71) This term has commonly been understood to indicate that they were from the Judean town of Kerioth-hezron. If this is so, then Judas was the only Judean among the 12 apostles, the rest being Galileans.

    Judas is introduced into the Gospel accounts in the listing of the apostles sometime after Passover 31 C.E. and about a year and a half after Jesus began his ministry. (Mr 3:19; Lu 6:16) It is logical to conclude that Judas had been a disciple for a time before Jesus made him an apostle. Many writers paint an entirely black picture of Judas, but evidently for a while he had been a disciple who found favor with God and with Jesus; his very selection as an apostle indicates that. Furthermore, he was entrusted with caring for the common finances of Jesus and the 12. That reflects favorably on his dependability at the time and his ability or education, especially since Matthew had had experience with money and figures but did not receive this assignment. (Joh 12:6; Mt 10:3) Nonetheless, Judas did become completely, inexcusably corrupt. No doubt it is for this reason that he is placed last in the list of the apostles and is described as the Judas “who later betrayed him” and “who turned traitor.”​—Mt 10:4; Lu 6:16.

    Became Corrupt. Near Passover 32 C.E., Judas, with the other apostles, was sent out preaching. (Mt 10:1, 4, 5) Shortly after Judas’ return, and less than a year after he had been made an apostle, he was publicly denounced by Christ, though not by name. Some disciples left Jesus, being shocked over his teachings, but Peter said that the 12 would stick with Christ. In response Jesus acknowledged that he had chosen the 12 but said: “One of you is a slanderer [Gr., di·aʹbo·los, meaning “devil” or “slanderer”].” The account explains that the one who already was a slanderer was Judas, who “was going to betray him, although one of the twelve.”​—Joh 6:66-71.

    In connection with this incident John says: “From the beginning Jesus knew . . . who was the one that would betray him.” (Joh 6:64) From Hebrew Scripture prophecies Christ knew that he would be betrayed by a close associate. (Ps 41:9; 109:8; Joh 13:18, 19) God also, by use of his foreknowledge, had seen that such a one would turn traitor, but it is inconsistent with God’s qualities and past dealings to think that Judas had to fail, as if he were predestined. Rather, as already mentioned, at the beginning of his apostleship Judas was faithful to God and to Jesus. Thus John must have meant that “from the beginning” of when Judas started to go bad, started to give in to imperfection and sinful inclinations, Jesus recognized it. (Joh 2:24, 25; Re 1:1; 2:23) Judas must have known he was the “slanderer” Jesus mentioned, but he continued to travel with Jesus and the faithful apostles and apparently he made no changes.

    The Bible does not discuss in detail the motives for his corrupt course, but an incident that occurred on Nisan 9, 33 C.E., five days before Jesus’ death, sheds light on the matter. At Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, Mary, Lazarus’ sister, anointed Jesus with perfumed oil worth 300 denarii, about a year’s wages for a laborer. (Mt 20:2) Judas strongly objected that the oil could have been sold and the money “given to the poor people.” Evidently other apostles merely assented to what seemed to be a valid point, but Jesus rebuked them. Judas’ real reason for objecting was that he cared for the money box and he “was a thief . . . and used to carry off the monies” put in the box. So Judas was a greedy, practicing thief.​—Joh 12:2-7; Mt 26:6-12; Mr 14:3-8.

    Betrayal Price. Judas was undoubtedly stung by Jesus’ rebuke about the use of money. At this time “Satan entered into Judas,” likely in the sense that the traitorous apostle gave himself in to the will of the Devil, allowing himself to be a tool to carry out Satan’s design to stop Christ. A few days later, on Nisan 12, Judas went to the chief priests and temple captains to see how much they would pay him to betray Jesus, again showing his avarice. (Mt 26:14-16; Mr 14:10, 11; Lu 22:3-6; Joh 13:2) The chief priests had that day met together with “the older men of the people,” the influential men of the Sanhedrin. (Mt 26:3) The temple captains may have been brought in because of their influence and to lend legal flavor to any planned arrest of Jesus.

    Why did the Jewish religious leaders offer just 30 pieces of silver for the betrayal of Jesus?

    Thirty pieces of silver ($66, if shekels) was the price offered. (Mt 26:14, 15) The sum fixed by the religious leaders appears designed to show their contempt of Jesus, viewing him as of little value. According to Exodus 21:32, the price of a slave was 30 shekels. Carrying this forward, for his work as a shepherd of the people, Zechariah was paid “thirty pieces of silver.” Jehovah scorned this as a very meager amount, regarding the wages given to Zechariah as an estimation of how the faithless people viewed God himself. (Zec 11:12, 13) Consequently, in offering just 30 pieces of silver for Jesus, the religious leaders made him out to be of little value. At the same time, though, they were fulfilling Zechariah 11:12, treating Jehovah as of low value by doing this to the representative he had sent to shepherd Israel. Corrupt Judas “consented [to the price], and he began to seek a good opportunity to betray [Jesus] to them without a crowd around.”​—Lu 22:6.

    Last Night With Jesus. In spite of having turned against Christ, Judas continued to associate with him. He gathered with Jesus and the apostles on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., for the celebration of the Passover. While the Passover meal was in process Jesus ministered to the apostles, humbly washing their feet. Hypocritical Judas allowed Jesus to do that to him. But Jesus said, “Not all of you are clean.” (Joh 13:2-5, 11) He also stated that one of the apostles there at the table would betray him. Perhaps so as not to appear guilty, Judas asked if he was the one. As a further identification, Jesus gave Judas a morsel and told him to do quickly what he was doing.​—Mt 26:21-25; Mr 14:18-21; Lu 22:21-23; Joh 13:21-30.

    Immediately Judas left the group. A comparison of Matthew 26:20-29 with John 13:21-30 indicates that he departed before Jesus instituted the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal. Luke’s presentation of this incident evidently is not in strict chronological order, for Judas had definitely left by the time Christ commended the group for having stuck with him; that would not fit Judas, nor would he have been taken into the “covenant . . . for a kingdom.”​—Lu 22:19-30.

    Judas later found Jesus together with the faithful apostles in the garden of Gethsemane, a place the betrayer knew well, for they had met there before. He led a great crowd, including Roman soldiers and a military commander. The mob had clubs and swords as well as torches and lamps, which they would need if clouds covered the full moon or if Jesus was in the shadows. The Romans probably would not recognize Jesus, so, according to a prearranged sign, Judas greeted Christ and in an act of hypocrisy “kissed him very tenderly,” thus identifying him. (Mt 26:47-49; Joh 18:2-12) Later Judas felt the enormity of his guilt. In the morning he attempted to return the 30 pieces of silver, but the chief priests refused to take them back. Finally, Judas threw the money into the temple.​—Mt 27:1-5.

    Death. According to Matthew 27:5, Judas hanged himself. But Acts 1:18 says, “pitching head foremost he noisily burst in his midst and all his intestines were poured out.” Matthew seems to deal with the mode of the attempted suicide, while Acts describes the result. Combining the two accounts, it appears that Judas tried to hang himself over some cliff, but the rope or tree limb broke so that he plunged down and burst open on the rocks below. The topography around Jerusalem makes such an event conceivable.

    Also related to his death is the question of who bought the burial field with the 30 pieces of silver. According to Matthew 27:6, 7, the chief priests decided they could not put the money in the sacred treasury so they used it to buy the field. The account in Acts 1:18, 19, speaking about Judas, says: “This very man, therefore, purchased a field with the wages for unrighteousness.” The answer seems to be that the priests purchased the field, but since Judas provided the money, it could be credited to him. Dr. A. Edersheim pointed out: “It was not lawful to take into the Temple-treasury, for the purchase of sacred things, money that had been unlawfully gained. In such cases the Jewish Law provided that the money was to be restored to the donor, and, if he insisted on giving it, that he should be induced to spend it for something for the public weal [well-being]. . . . By a fiction of law the money was still considered to be Judas’, and to have been applied by him in the purchase of the well-known ‘potter’s field.’” (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 1906, Vol. II, p. 575) This purchase worked to fulfill the prophecy at Zechariah 11:13.

    The course that Judas chose was a deliberate one, involving malice, greed, pride, hypocrisy, and scheming. He afterward felt remorse under the burden of guilt, as a willful murderer might at the result of his crime. Yet Judas had of his own volition made a bargain with those who Jesus said made proselytes that were subjects of Gehenna twice as much as themselves, who were also liable to “the judgment of Gehenna.” (Mt 23:15, 33) On the final night of his earthly life, Jesus himself said, actually about Judas: “It would have been finer for that man if he had not been born.” Later Christ called him “the son of destruction.”​—Mr 14:21; Joh 17:12; Heb 10:26-29.

    Replacement. Between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter, applying the prophecy in Psalm 109:8, explained to a group of about 120 assembled disciples that it seemed appropriate to select a replacement for Judas. Two candidates were proposed and lots were cast, resulting in Matthias being chosen “to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.”​—Ac 1:15, 16, 20-26.

    • Altosackbuteer
      Altosackbuteer  June 14, 2018

      You are mistaken. Nothing in the gospels says that Judas’ father ALSO was known as “Iscariot.”

      Luke 6:16 says nothing about Judas Iscariot’s father. And John 6:71 says, “He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” But John DOESN’T SAY that Simon ALSO was known as “Iscariot.”

      In other words, when you say, “Both he and his father were called Iscariot,” you are MISTAKEN.

      But even if he were, so what? It could just as equally mean that BOTH of them, father AND son, were killers of Romans, dispatching their victims with daggers.

      As Professor has pointed out, the difficulty with your theory that “Kerioth” is a place-name from southern Judea is that the gospels make it plain that Jesus recruited GALILEEANS because Jesus himself was from nearby Nazareth. It makes little sense to suppose Jesus would recruit one man from a couple of hundred miles away.

      • Avatar
        truthseekerofallthings  June 15, 2018

        (Siʹmon) [from a Hebrew root meaning “hear; listen”].

        Simon Iscariot, father of Jesus’ betrayer Judas.​—Joh 6:71; 13:2, 26.

        • Altosackbuteer
          Altosackbuteer  June 18, 2018

          As I type these words, I am looking up all 3 of your citations. I am using the KJV as my source. I assume that is a satisfactory source for you.

          Your claim is that John 6:71, John 13:2, and “26” — I assume this means John 13:26 — all state that Simon “Iscariot” was Judas’ father.

          John 6:71: “He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” This says that “Simon” was Judas Iscariot’s father, but DOES NOT SAY that his surname ALSO was “Iscariot.”

          John 13:2 “And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,,,” Same counter-comment; NOTHING here says that Simon was ALSO surnamed “Iscariot.”

          John 13:26 “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” Again, the same counter-comment; NOTHING here says that Simon was ALSO surnamed “Iscariot.”


          Conclusion: You are MISTAKEN. NOWHERE is “Simon Iscariot” mentioned.

          Now YOU come and hear THIS:

          a) Commonly, Jews in those days didn’t have surnames. Usually, they were known as so-+-so son of so-+-so. For example: Judah ben-Hur (from the novel and movies); Joshua ben-Nun; Moshe ben-Amram. In the 2nd century, the failed Messiah Shimon bar-Kochba, in that name’s Aramaic form.

          A remnant of this still exists in the synagogue liturgy. When a Jew is called up for a Torah reading (Mondays, Thursdays, Sabbaths, festivals), it commences “Ya-moed Yakov ben-Yitzchak” — “I call up Jacob son of Isaac.”

          b) Sometimes Jews were known by place-names. “Antigonos ish Socho” — “Antigonos a man of Socho” — for example appears in Perek I of Pirkei Avot. It is in this sense that Professor thinks that “Iscariot” means “a man of Kerioth,” and while I disagree with him, his opinion is defensible.

          But having said all that, I cannot think of any Jews in those times using the modern practice of passing down surnames like “Smith” or “Goldberg” to their children.

          So your theory fails for this reason too.

          c) And even if you were correct, to suppose that Simon Judas’ father was also known as “Simon Iscariot” — and you have NOT proven that — SO WHAT? That might JUST AS EASILY mean that both Simon the father and Judas his son were known as “Iscariot” because BOTH of them used daggers to assassinate Romans, and had BOTH become notorious for this. See my more in-depth discussion elsewhere for the etymology of “Iscariot.”


          And finally, I have a question for you.

          I assume you are a non-Catholic Christian. You are evangelical and “born again.” Am I right?

          As such, you reject all traditions, Catholic traditions or otherwise. With you, “sola scriptura” — “only (WRITTEN) scripture” matters. “If it ain’t WRITTEN in my Bible, I don’t believe it!”

          In that case, WHY are you making up this NONSENSE about Simon father of Judas Iscariot ALSO being called “Iscariot”?

          When you do that, you in fact are guilty of BEING A CATHOLIC — of inventing unwritten traditions to fit your beliefs.

          Why would you do such a thing?

        • Altosackbuteer
          Altosackbuteer  June 18, 2018

          By the way, how can it possibly be said that Judas “BETRAYED” Jesus when the Gospels all make it perfectly plain that Jesus KNEW EXACTLY what Judas was doing and, moreover, in John even TELLS Judas to go do what he must?

          What kind of “betrayal” is it when the target of the betrayal knows EXACTLY what’s going down?

          What kind of “betrayal” is it when, if the target of the (non)”betrayal” doesn’t want to be betrayed, then ALL he has to do to AVOID being “betrayed” IS SIMPLY CHANGE HIS MIND AND NOT SHOW UP IN THE GARDEN AT THE APPOINTED HOUR!

          OBVIOUSLY, Jesus WANTED it to go down just as it did.

          That all being the case — HOW can anybody say that “Judas betrayed Jesus”?

  13. Avatar
    forthfading  June 13, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman

    Is there a meaning behind the name you feel is more likely, based on the context of 1st century Palestine?


  14. Avatar
    Tony  June 14, 2018

    Yes, the gospel writers themselves did not know the meaning of Iscariot. More telling is that Paul knows nothing about this character. Perhaps it’s all a product of Mark’s fertile mind, mindlessly copied, and embellished on, by the others.

  15. Avatar
    Tony  June 14, 2018

    Shortly after posting my previous comment, I came across a 2016 essay by Dennis MacDonald on the very subject:


    The essay confirms my suspicion about Mark as the Iscariot originator. There are a number of other interesting observations in this essay, which has a summary at the end.

    • Bart
      Bart  June 14, 2018

      Somehow I’m imagining that if you think Jesus didn’t exist, you don’t need much proof for Mary Magdalene or Judas….

      • Avatar
        Tony  June 14, 2018

        I understand you’re a critic of Dennis MacDonald.

        Yes, unlike NT scholars, I will not experience severe cognitive dissonance and risk major reputation loss by stating that Jesus of Nazareth was a fabricated character – just like Mary Magdalene and Judas.

        I like your earlier post on the subject which raises a number of points in support of the mythicist hypothesis.

        • Bart
          Bart  June 15, 2018

          Actually, we’ve been friends for years.

          • mwferguson
            mwferguson  June 15, 2018

            Just to clarify, while Dr. MacDonald posted this blog on my website, I don’t really endorse his view about Judas and Mary Magdalene not existing.

            I certainly think that Jesus existed, and I think that Judas and Mary also probably existed (though their existence is probably less certain than Jesus, since we possess less sources for their lives.)

        • Avatar
          truthseekerofallthings  June 16, 2018

          Isnt the first century writings of the Roman historian Tacitus about “Christus” historical proof there was a Christ and Christians.

          What about Pliny the Younger or Seutonius?

          Most people who try to deny the historicity of Christ aren’t aware of these writings or are they?

          • Avatar
            truthseekerofallthings  June 16, 2018

            maybe pliny’s writings can be disputed and Tacitus referring to Pilate as a Procurator is often disputed.

            Could Pilate have been a Procurator prior to him being a Prefect or at some other time or could he have been filling in for someone or assigned as a Procurator temporarily in place of someone else.

            Is there something to argue Tacitus may have been right about that.

          • Avatar
            truthseekerofallthings  June 16, 2018

            Could someone else have made Pilate a Procurator before or after Christ’s death or could he also have been Procurator at the same time but the Bible didn’t mention that detail.

            Or could he have been a Procurator representing in court like a lawyer during Christ’s trial?

          • Avatar
            Tony  June 21, 2018

            These authors identify the undisputed fact that there were Christians at the turn of the first to second century. It does not proof that the Jesus of Nazareth gospel character existed.

      • Avatar
        Tony  June 14, 2018

        Your June 11th comment: “Hey, I’m not going to let factual information get in the way!”
        I certainly agree!

  16. Avatar
    truthseekerofallthings  June 16, 2018

    In light of what Tacitus said about Pilate, could Pilate could have been Procurator in the sense of Pilate also having the role of prosecutor?

    Procurator is also used in the legal sense regarding the Roman court system

    • Bart
      Bart  June 17, 2018

      Based on the “Caesarea inscription” it appears that Pilate was a prefect, not a procurator. Tacitus, writing 80 years or so later, simply got that wrong.

  17. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  June 26, 2018

    Aside from the fact that none of the four canonicals explains the meaning of Iscariot (“which, being interpreted, is…”) what is the evidence that late first century Christians no longer knew what it meant? Could the absence of an explanation also suggest everyone knew what it meant?

    • Bart
      Bart  June 27, 2018

      Interesting idea. I think the problem is that later church fathers couldn’t figure it out (they give various explanations)

  18. Avatar
    Kakuzato  December 16, 2018

    Why the man is named Judas? Hebrew writing for the name is Yudah(or Judah in some transliteration, but my point still stays the same). Same as OT’s Joseph’s brother’s name for example.

    • Bart
      Bart  December 17, 2018

      Because names get *translated* into English, not transliterated. That’s true for most names that come down to us from antiquity.

      • Avatar
        Kakuzato  December 17, 2018

        Still Joseph’s brother is Judah in english I think, so what makes him different? Or Jesus too in Hebrew is Yesuah, and there have been people with the same name in OT and not called Jesus but Joshua or something like that. Is there some specific reason to translate OT and NT names differently? Or is it because of NT is Greek and ot is Hebrew? Even when translating into English. English is English anyway, so is the language of the source the reason for that?

        • Bart
          Bart  December 18, 2018

          Not sure what you’re asking. Hebrew is Joshua; Aramaic is Yeshua; Greek is Iesous; English is Jesus. Each language has a different way of saying the same name. That’s true of all names. And sometimes two languages are pretty close in how they say them.

          • Avatar
            Kakuzato  December 18, 2018

            I try to make my point, but it’s hard since I’m not native English speaker. So OT is written in Hebrew and NT in Greek. In English translation of NT there is a character called Jesus.
            In English translation 6th book of OT is called Joshua.
            Assuming that Jesus’ given name is Joshua by his parents and it’s translated in English as Jesus, why 6th book of OT is not? Is it because of the original text in OT and NT are different? Or for some other reason?

          • Bart
            Bart  December 19, 2018

            Good question. It’s because the OT book is being translated from the Hebrew and the name of Jesus in the NT from the Greek.

          • Avatar
            Kakuzato  December 18, 2018

            * “in different language” I mean

  19. Avatar
    Charlene  October 1, 2019

    Here is what it means. JUDUS IS C_ RI_ T. Fill in the blanks.

    • Avatar
      Charlene  October 2, 2019


      JUDUS IS C_ RI_ T. By changing 2 letters you get the answer and I have plenty of evidence to back up my theory.

  20. Avatar
    Charlene  October 3, 2019

    Fine I’ll do it for you. JUDUS IS C_ R I _ T

    • Bart
      Bart  October 4, 2019

      You do realize that these texts were not written using English letters, right? It doesn’t work in Greek.

      • Avatar
        Charlene  October 4, 2019

        What matters is it’s true. Everything points to it. I have done years of research on it. I always use the King James Bible for my research and have cross referenced my theory in every way possible, through religions, history and every book written I could find on this subject. I have no other answer for this lodd little discovery with the name, other than I know for a fact that when a person is open and dedicated enough to finding Truth that the Word (God) becomes living as has been said, and it knows no language. It speaks directly to you. This is not to say that I have not done many years of research but the cryptic message became clear right away. I just had to prove it in my mind. I can’t tell you how many books fell into my hands (some very old) in the oddest places, consignment shops etc. you begin to realize you are being led. The end product is perfect. I am perfect, you are perfect and God is perfect. No blood, no traitor (Judus) only Love. If you are ever willing to step over that line, the answers will be there, and keep me in mind. I would love to share all my research with anyone interested. It was not an easy journey (dark night of the soul) but so worth it. Thank you for responding. I truly appreciate it. As I said, you were there in the beginning with your book , The Problem With God. That didn’t go over well when I handed it to our church psychologist. 🤭

You must be logged in to post a comment.