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If Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray him,


Deb N
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I'm in CA single with progressive beliefs, but little scholarship apart from currently reading the NIV study Bible. I've been looking online and can't find an answer that satisfies my question: If Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray him, then why did He pick the man for a desciple?

 

In light of Jesus saying "get behind me Satan" when a deciple vowed to defend him, it seems to me that if Judas was the only one willing to do the job then wouldn't he hold a special place in Jesus' heart? Blood money aside, Judas did facilitate the advent of God's plan. I would think Judas would be revered for that. Is it simply the will of God?

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Hi Deb.

Good to have you here. I'm sorry but frankly I can't answer such a question as you have posed. I simply do not know and don't know how I could do any better than just guess. And personally for myself, i find it best not to the do that. Perhaps the answer to such questions for me holds no curiosity. Perhaps someone else can take a shot at it.

Again Welcome,

Joseph

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Deb, Welcome.

 

There are, IMO, no good answers to your questions. Trying to harmonize a wide variety of texts written by many different authors, living in very different circumstances, over a period of a thousand years +/-, is a useless exercise.

 

There are a number of books of apologetics that attempt to explain and harmonize the biblical texts. But, in my limited experience they are highly subjective, intellectually dishonest and stretch the imagination.

 

George

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Welcome, Deb, to the forum.

 

The following is only *my* opinion and I offer it simply from my own studies and viewpoint. First, as a progressive Christian, I don't believe that Jesus was omniscient. Yes, the gospels say that he sometimes knew things. But they also say that there were plenty of times that he had to ask people questions or that he himself didn't know things (such as when he would return).

 

That being said, I think there is plenty of scriptural evidence and I find it reasonable that Jesus started out as an "eschatological prophet," as feeling that he was called by God to call Israel back to God before judgment fell. This kind of eschatology was right in line with the Zealots, which it seems that Judas Iscariot was a member of. The Zealots, of course, felt that God would "rescue" Israel from her enemies (the Romans) if they would pick up weapons and fight. But by the end of Jesus' ministry, it seems that he eschewed violence as a way to revolt. He was for loving one's enemies and doing good to them. And it is quite reasonable, imo, that Judas, in "betraying" Jesus, was trying to force Jesus into stepping into the "warrior messiah" role that some in Israel desired. Again, Jesus rejected this role and chose the "suffering servant" messiah instead. And Judas, perhaps feeling that he had bet on the wrong horse, threw his blood money back into the Temple. The sad but very human thing about all of this is that ALL of Jesus' disciples betrayed him in denying him and fleeing. It wasn't just Judas who misunderstood Jesus' message and mission. They all forsook him. And yet, Jesus returns to them with love and acceptance. It's my opinion that Judas wanted the right thing, God's kingdom on earth, but he misunderstood that kingdom and how that kingdom was to come.

 

How much Jesus may or may not have known about his disciples beforehand, we can never know for sure. But he was often accused by the Religious Right of his day of hanging out with the wrong crowds, of fellowshipping with people whom anyone else would have written off long ago. But the man had grace.

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Deb,

 

Welcome.

 

Have you checked out the Gospel of Judas, belived to have been written in the 100s CE? That book portrays Judas as a hero of sorts in that he was following Jesus' instructions in betraying him. Seems that long ago people had similiar thoughts to yours. I have no idea of the validity of the text, my only point is that it has been around for a while so it demonstrates (IMO) that others questioned like you. Apparently the text was around as early as 180CE as Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, wrote a document in which he railed against this gospel.

 

As for the 30 pieces of silver story, did you know that In Zechariah 11:12-13, 30 pieces of silver is the price Zechariah receives for his labour. Also, In Exodus 21:32, 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave.

 

So I wonder if Mathew's version is based on fact, or perhaps tailored to 'align' with other texts to better sell his story?

 

Cheers

Paul

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Deb,

 

Welcome.

 

Have you checked out the Gospel of Judas, belived to have been written in the 100s CE? That book portrays Judas as a hero of sorts in that he was following Jesus' instructions in betraying him. Seems that long ago people had similiar thoughts to yours. I have no idea of the validity of the text, my only point is that it has been around for a while so it demonstrates (IMO) that others questioned like you. Apparently the text was around as early as 180CE as Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, wrote a document in which he railed against this gospel.

 

As for the 30 pieces of silver story, did you know that In Zechariah 11:12-13, 30 pieces of silver is the price Zechariah receives for his labour. Also, In Exodus 21:32, 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave.

 

So I wonder if Mathew's version is based on fact, or perhaps tailored to 'align' with other texts to better sell his story?

 

Cheers

Paul

 

There is also this from Elaine Pagels:

 

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pagels07/pagels07_index.html

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It's my opinion that Judas wanted the right thing, God's kingdom on earth, but he misunderstood that kingdom and how that kingdom was to come.

Bill, well said.

 

God and Jesus, not knowing all that was knowable, but nothing about what was going to happen, had hoped that Jesus's preaching would be sufficient; that people would understand and change their lives. It didn't work out that way. But Judas was not the only reason and, perhaps, not even the central point on which all else turned. When the result was not quite what God and Jesus hoped for, they tried something new, resurrection of Christ. That would be a process view. God and creation, including humans, working in partnership. God remembers everything that has happened and knows all the possibilities for the next moment but does not know the future that actually happens until it does.

 

For another view from Jesus Christ Superstar -

 

 

Dutch

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I've also heard another argument that Judas Iscariot was a literary invention that symbolizes the conflict between the Pauline Christian school of thought and the followers of Peter and the gospels' condemnation of Judas is symbolic of their support for Peter's Jewish Christianity over Paul's Gentile Christianity. If I'm not mistaken, Bishop Spong makes this argument in one of his books.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Bart Ehrman, in Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth thinks that Judas was a historical character. He says, "There are reasons for thinking that at the heart of the both stories (Matthew and Acts) is a historical tradition." He goes on an gives a historical argument for the existence of Judas.

 

About the reasons for the betrayal, he says, "We (speaking as a historian) are completely handicapped in knowing why Judas would have done this [...] Maybe he did it for money [,..] Maybe he had a mean streak [...] Maybe he thought he could force Jesus's hand to compel him to call out for public support. No one really knows."

 

George

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Bart Ehrman, in Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth thinks that Judas was a historical character. He says, "There are reasons for thinking that at the heart of the both stories (Matthew and Acts) is a historical tradition." He goes on an gives a historical argument for the existence of Judas.

 

About the reasons for the betrayal, he says, "We (speaking as a historian) are completely handicapped in knowing why Judas would have done this [...] Maybe he did it for money [,..] Maybe he had a mean streak [...] Maybe he thought he could force Jesus's hand to compel him to call out for public support. No one really knows."

 

George

 

IMO, Judas may have been "forcing Jesus' hand", and perhaps never intended that Jesus would die. Talking of the relationship between Jesus & Judas in purely human terms, I think Judas was a very zealous follower of Jesus. And I think they must have been good friends. Jesus probably knew what Judas was about just like any of us who know our friends well know what our friends are up to.

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Thanks for the warm welcome. I've been curious about this for a very long time (off and on). And there's a few other questions I have as well. Admittedly I'm no scholar but I have begun to follow Biblical archeology. You have given me much to think about.

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It seems to me several questions have to be asked before one begins to answer this question.

 

Is the Bible story historically reliable? If it isn't then the discussion is mute.

 

If it isn't 100% historically reliable the how much is reliable?

 

IMO there is nothing in the Bible that is 100% historic. And there is no real way to definitively determine what is historic and what isn't. Its all a guess, educated guess , but a guess non the less.

 

Deb, this is one of the most liberating concepts of Christian Progressiveness is moving away from did it happen to what does it mean. As you have pointed out, it makes no sense for Jesus to choose Judas as a disciple if he knew Judas would turn him in. It also makes no sense for Jesus to go to Jerusalem in the first place unless he knew this was his destiny and accepted it (which makes the whole story of Judas unnecessary) or didn't have a clue which calls into question his divinity.

 

The better question is, why did early followers of Jesus feel this story was important enough to repeat and write down? Where is the wisdom? For me it shows everyone makes mistakes but making mistakes doesn't remove us from the love of God.

 

steve

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Admittedly I'm no scholar but I have begun to follow Biblical archeology. You have given me much to think about.

 

Deb,

 

If you don't already, you might be interested in subscribing to the "Biblical Archaeology Review." It is a bi-monthly publication that focuses on, well, biblical archaeology. They have some really good articles by respected scholars. It is one of the few publications in which I read all the letters to the editor. Some of the subscribers questions, and criticisms are interesting as well as the authors' responses.

 

George

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Is the Bible story historically reliable? If it isn't then the discussion is mute.

 

If it isn't 100% historically reliable the how much is reliable?

 

Steve,

 

Without a doubt the Bible reports some history, some of which is confirmed by independent sources and archaeology. Is it 100% reliable? No. However, as one scholar (maybe Bart Ehrman) has said within every myth there is a seed of historical truth.

 

George

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Then the question becomes "Is there any reason we should consider this as historical?" I think the answer is no then the question is why did 1st century followers of Jesus feel it was important enough to want to remember.

 

steve

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Then the question becomes "Is there any reason we should consider this as historical?" I think the answer is no then the question is why did 1st century followers of Jesus feel it was important enough to want to remember.

 

Steve, One of the tests that biblical historians use is called "the criterion of dissimilarity:" A story that doesn't conform to the emphasis of early Christianity. An example that is often mentioned is the crucifixion. There is not a good reason that later writers would make up a story about a messiah who was convicted and executed. Another example, I have seen is Jesus' baptism by John. This created problems for later Christian writers to work around - God baptised by a mortal man.

 

The Judas story may fit this criterion. Why would a early Christian make up a story of betrayal by a close disciple?

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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We all have picked Judas as a friend with the same results and I think we all learned a lesson as well as the Judas s.

 

Without going into details involving pain being resolved. I know now that a Judas can become a Jesus. I would not be here today but for that.

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Why would a early Christian make up a story of betrayal by a close disciple?

 

This may be as much a revisionist story or revisionist explination as anything.

 

Maybe he really was betrayed by Judas with the revisionist using the excuse that the betrayal was foretold by the OT.

 

It seems to me that if one assumes the general story line is somewhat historical that Jesus purposely worked to follow the OT predictions ie, how he entered town. Maybe Judas's betrail was another step to fulfil prophacy. Even if it isn't historical in any way , prophacy fulfilment might explain why it was included in canon.

 

why it was included in canon is a more important question than did it happen.

 

steve

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why it was included in canon is a more important question than did it happen.

 

Someone (a historian) once commented about how conservative many of the biblical writers were. Rather than write problematic stories out of the texts, they would often frame them in a theological way. But, the fact that these stories that are problematic are even there gives them more historical credibility.

 

George

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God and Jesus, not knowing all that was knowable, but nothing about what was going to happen, had hoped that Jesus's preaching would be sufficient; that people would understand and change their lives. It didn't work out that way. But Judas was not the only reason and, perhaps, not even the central point on which all else turned. When the result was not quite what God and Jesus hoped for, they tried something new, resurrection of Christ. That would be a process view. God and creation, including humans, working in partnership. God remembers everything that has happened and knows all the possibilities for the next moment but does not know the future that actually happens until it does.

 

Hi Dutch,

 

I'm curious: according to this view, how do you interpret Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53? The process view of an open future makes a lot of sense, but how does it explain predictions and prophecies?

 

Phil

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