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Judas Iscariot (יהודה איש־קריות, Yehuda) is the Biblical figure traditionally charged with betraying Jesus to the Roman soldiers for 30 pieces of silver. Judas is also the head of his own Gnostic Church. The word "Judas" has entered the English language as a pejorative term used to describe one who betrays a friend.
Judas was one of the original twelve apostles of Jesus. Little is mentioned about Judas or his life in the Bible itself. But the picture that is created of Judas includes, on one side, a man who was torn, trying to protect the overall movement, a benign mention of Judas simply "turning Jesus in". The other, rather sharp suggestion from John is that Judas was an unrepentant thief, yet Jesus put temptation in the way of the thief allowing him to be in charge of the treasury for some reason (John 12:6). Due to the vehemence of John's attack, and because there is nothing to support it in the other three Gospels, scholars[note 1] have argued that the "Judas" story was added to the Gospels long after they were written, in order to justify the growing anti-Semitism.
Biblical inconsistencies describing his death
The ever-infallible Bible offers two explanations of how Judas met his final demise, perhaps so you can pick the one you like best. The Book of Acts states that he purchased a field with his money, and while working the field, he fell and split his intestines out. This would be a fully accidental act, often attributed to God himself as a punishment. By contrast the Gospel of Matthew states that Judas hanged himself, a choice done out of despair or remorse.
There have been endless and common backbends to justify the idea that the Bible is actually infallible and internally consistent. Theories to harmonize the two death scenes include St. Augustine's idea that the hanging body fell from the tree, then split open upon the ground (presumably he continued working while hanging). Others, specifically in the Medieval period, suggest that the two stories are two different moments from Judas's upcoming death. First he fell, then having recovered from being split open, he later hanged himself.[note 2] Could doctors of that time save anyone so severely injured? Oh the lengths one will go to to protect one's carefully constructed beliefs.
C.S. Lewis has been quoted as saying that this single inconsistency was the turning point in his journey from literalist to a more liberal reading of a Bible that includes political agendas and human errors. So some good has come of it, at least.
Non-canonical portrayal of Judas
After 1,600 years of rumors of a Gospel attributed to Judas, one was found in the 1970s and revealed to the world in 2000. While Judas here still kisses Jesus on the cheek to turn him in to the Romans, he did it at the request of Jesus to release the soul of Jesus.  The twelve killed Judas, Jesus actually disliked the others because they were teaching the wrong thing.
A text appearing to be a non-canonical gospel has turned up in Turkey, a primarily Islamic nation. That text seems to be a Gospel of Barnabas and supports the Islamic view that Jesus was not crucified. The text suggests further that God miraculously transformed Judas, making him look identical to Jesus and Judas was crucified in place of Jesus. Christians consider this text a hoax. At least one Christian website claims the view that Jesus was not crucified makes Islam demonic. (Most Christians aren't so idiotic, of course.)
The Turkish government is holding onto the original book securely, hindering independent investigation.
Judas also has the best kick-ass songs in Jesus Christ Superstar.[citation NOT needed]
There is a long-held conundrum surrounding Judas which the Church has officially ignored, though many scholars have attempted to address, and was a theme in The Last Temptation of Christ: If Jesus had to die in order to be resurrected to fulfill the Law, then Judas must have been (by his own design, by Jesus's design, or God's design) "required" to turn him in, in some grand scheme of things. And, how is it justified to punish him for all of eternity if he was a necessary cog in the system? As Pope Leo pointed out, however, Judas took his own life prior to the resurrection (provided you believe the second story of his death and not the first).
Despite the claim that Jesus made the greatest sacrifice for all humankind, he knew all along that he would be resurrected after just a few days. Yet Judas was crucial in effecting the crucifixion while Jesus was well aware of what he would do and allowed him to do it rather than simply surrender himself. For this Judas suffers for all eternity; he may have got the rough end of the stick. On the other hand, Judas might just be a myth (1 Corinthians 15:5).
- Gospel of Judas — Judas sets the record straight, or does he?
- Who Killed Jesus?: Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan (1996) HarperOne. ISBN 0060614803.
- Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil by Hyam Maccoby (1992) Free Press. ISBN 0029195551.
- The Place of Judas Iscariot in Christology by Anthony Cane (2017) Routledge. ISBN 1138275042.
- The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot?
- The Gospel of Judas, translated by Rodolphe Kasser et al. (2006) The National Geographic Society.
- Judas was Crucified
- The Gospel of Barnabas ‘hoax’
- History of Muhammad & Islam
- 1500-Year-Old Bible Discovered In Turkey Indicates Jesus Christ Was Not Crucified
- The Last Temptation of Christ (film) on Wikiquote