Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries          New Testament


The history of Judas the Iscariot

(from an old manuscript by a Monk of the Holy Mountain)


Source:  https://www.thetoc.gr/koinwnia/


A text belonging to a manuscript of the Holy Monastery of Iviron on the Holy Mountain - a copy of which rests in the Cell of St. Govdelaas of Persia in the Holy Monastery of Iviron, copied and published by the Hagiorite and Hieromonk Averkios in 1895 and 1896 in Varna - tells about Judas.

According to this manuscript, Judas’ descent was from Iscaria and his father was called Rovel. One night his mother woke up, being frightened by a nightmare that she had seen in her sleep, according to which, if she had conceived a male child it would be the ruin of the generation of Jews. That night she had conceived, and later gave birth to a baby boy. Fearing that the nightmare would come true, the parents constructed a basket, like the one that was made in Egypt for Moses; they placed their child in it and abandoned it in the Sea of ​​Galilee.

Across from Iscaria was an island where shepherds spent winter with their flocks. They discovered and collected the child, raised him, named him Judas, and later sent him to Iscaria to be raised by a family.  By coincidence, the family that took him in was his biological family, who meantime had given birth to another child. According to the manuscript, Judas frequently abused his brother, with the wicked thought of inheriting his father's estate.  One day he killed his brother by hitting him on the head with a stone, then departed for Jerusalem, leaving behind the inconsolable parents who tried to locate both their children.

In Jerusalem he became acquainted with Herod, who placed him in his service as a supervisor – his mission being to procure the necessary products and goods for the palaces.  Many years later, Judas' parents sold their property in Iscaria and settled in Jerusalem, alongside Herod's palace, in an excellent house with gardens.

Herod, who delighted with the beauty of Rovel's gardens, accepted Judas’ proposal to go and bring him fruits and flowers from Rovel's garden - without Judas knowing that his parents lived there.  Indeed, he jumped over the wall and illegally entered his father's gardens, cutting flowers and fruits. But, on his return, he stumbled onto his father Rovel, who scolded him, without knowing that he was his lost son. Judas then murdered him the same way that he had killed his younger brother. He told Herod what had happened, but the king remained silent about Rovel's death, and commanded Judas to marry Rovel's widow, so that he could inherit her property. She accepted this, out of fear for Herod, but was unaware that Judas was her lost son. Over time, Judas had a child with her.

One day, while lamenting over everything that she had lived through, she narrated everything to Judas, who, now realizing who she was, revealed his own identity. She tore at her clothes, mourning inconsolably for her sin, and Judas, on recalling the heinous crimes he had committed, departed and went to meet Christ, whom he had heard of, in order to find atonement for his soul. Christ accepted him and made him His disciple, entrusting him with the money collections: the money that covered the needs of Christ’s holy retinue and His Apostles.

There is also the theory that Judas was part of a broader divine plan.

His passion of avarice led him to sell his Master and God for thirty pieces of silver. After his unholy act, he returned the thirty pieces of silver to the Scribes and the Pharisees, and in desperation, hanged himself.

But, being a wicked person, he hanged himself immediately, thinking that he would descend into Hades before the Lord entered it after His death, in the expectation that he would also be set free, along with his ancestors. But instead, he remained dangling alive from the tree, until after the Lord was resurrected, and then he died. His body finally dropped from the tree, resulting in his landing on the ground face-down, his abdomen bursting open, and his entrails spread around.

Acts - Chapter 1:15-20

15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about one hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “My brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit had foretold through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and had obtained a share in this ministry.”  18 (Now this man (Judas) had acquired a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. 19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his estate become desolate, and let no one live on it’; and: ‘Let someone else acquire its supervision.’


Source:  By Hieromonk Averkios of the Holy Mountain, a precise history regarding events that took place during the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, composed firstly by a certain Judean named Aeneas, a contemporary of the Saviour. Translated into the Latin language by Nicodemus, a dignitary of Rome, and saved in a certain manuscript in the Holy Mountain. Varna, 1896, pp.78-85.


Theories concerning the betrayal

John, who judged Judas as cruel, concluded that the act of betrayal by Judas was committed because the devil had put the idea into his head.  This is exactly what Luke had also asserted. On the other hand, Matthew and Mark wrote that Judas betrayed Jesus exclusively for the 30 pieces of silver.

Another version, which seems more logical, asserts that Judas had expected Jesus to free the Jews from the Roman occupation, and as soon as he realized that Christ did not have such a thing in mind, he was disillusioned and thus betrayed Him.

There are scholars who argue that Judas tried to pressure Jesus to display His powers, while there is also the theory that Judas was part of a broader divine plan.

But nothing can be proven and all of the above remain theories. The motives clearly mentioned by the Evangelists are avarice and the influence of Satan.

Judas’ kiss

This kiss, apparently given for the 30 pieces of silver, cost Judas eternal punishment in “Hell” and affected Christian and world history more than any other event.

But what purposes did this kiss serve?

The setting

Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper, accompanied by Peter, Jacob (James) and John, all standing further away from Him. Suddenly, a great commotion was heard, and Judas appeared, followed by a mob. Roman soldiers and high priests’ people holding lanterns, swords and sticks were among the mob. Judas approached Jesus and addressed Him with the words 'Greetings Rabbi' and then kissed him. He had just betrayed Him.

The arrest

'Did you come with a kiss to betray the Son of Man?', was the question that Judas received after his act according to Luke, while at that same moment, the soldiers were arresting Jesus and binding His hands. Peter reacted by cutting off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest who was accompanying the soldiers. Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'If you give a knife, you will receive a knife.' Jesus asked out loud, addressing those who had arrested Him:  “Why did you come to arrest me with knives and sticks? Every day I was seated near you all, and I taught publicly, in the temple. Why didn't you catch me then?”

The queries

The three main questions that have been asked over the centuries about Judas’ act are:

1- Why did the Romans need Judas to point them to Jesus, given that He was a well-known person because of His teachings?

Attempts to explain this from time to time converge on the fact that obviously the Roman soldiers may not have been able to recognize Him in the darkness of night, since they generally never paid much attention to Him. Also, Judas was the one who knew the places that Jesus frequented and everything had to be done quickly and quietly in order to avoid creating any intense reactions.

2- Why did Jesus include Judas in His disciples, knowing that he would betray Him?

The answers vary, but most focus on the matter of 'free will,' which is also a foundation of the Christian faith. That is, Judas was free to make his choice. Jesus did not want to influence him or to release him from that choice. In fact, according to John, He had said: 'I know which ones I have chosen as My disciples.' Was Judas, finally – without knowing it - part of a divine plan?

3- Why did Peter not attack Judas, but the slave?

This is one of the questions that no one has actually succeeded in answering. Those who have tried, probably approached the ... police aspect of the mystery and came to the conclusion that Peter was obviously afraid to attack Judas who was among the soldiers, or he had not perceived Judas’ role, since he was standing further away, together with Jacob (James) and John. Peter's reaction is an indication that Judas had not given any samples of a bad character until then, and therefore none of the disciples could have suspected that he intended to betray the Master.




Translation: A.N.


Article published in English on: 21-04-2020.

Last update: 21-04-2020.