The death of Judas : the characterization of Judas Iscariot in three early Christian accounts of his death.
Access changed 6/26/13.
Three different accounts of the death of Judas Iscariot are preserved in Matthew 27:3–10, Acts 1:18–20, and fragments of Papias. The present study will argue that in the milieu of the ancient Mediterranean such death-accounts would have conveyed to the authorial audience particular character traits of Judas through established conventions. The rhetorical handbooks of the era reveal the strategies employed in the depiction of persons in general as well as in descriptions of death. By comparing these theoretical discussions with the actual practice in various types of discourse, the principal patterns of literary portraiture emerge. Using these patterns as an interpretive grid, the three early accounts of Judas’ death reveal character-shaping details that are relevant to the overall plot and theological interests of each work. In Matthew, Judas is depicted as a traitor of a Davidic king and a failure as a disciple. In Acts, the portrait of Judas presents him as an apostate apostle and a defeated enemy of God’s people. In Papias, Judas is characterized as a greedy and intemperate miscreant who plots against a righteous benefactor.