Judas IscariotBiblical Figure
Died: c. 30 (suicide)
Best known as: The disciple who betrayed Jesus of Nazareth
Judas Iscariot was the disciple who betrayed Jesus of Nazareth, according to the Christian Bible. The Gospels -- the first four books of the New Testament -- tell of authorities in Jerusalem who plot to kill Jesus during a religious festival but need to avoid a riot. For reasons unknown, Judas offers to help and is paid 30 silver coins. At a meal known as the Last Supper, Jesus mysteriously announces that one of his 12 closest followers will betray him. All deny it, but Jesus seems to know Judas is the one. That night, praying in a remote garden, Jesus is approached by an armed crowd sent by his enemies and led by Judas. In a prearranged signal, Judas kisses Jesus to indicate whom to arrest. Jesus is led away, tried and brutally executed. Judas, remorseful, dies soon after the betrayal. In the Gospel of Matthew he returns the coins and hangs himself. In the Acts of the Apostles he keeps the pay, buys a field, and falls down there, disemboweled. An entirely different portrayal appears in an ancient Gospel of Judas, not included in the Bible. In it, Jesus asks his closest friend, Judas, to hand him over to his death.
Extra credit: Judas is listed among the 12 disciples in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which, along with John, also carry accounts of the betrayal ... What "Iscariot" means is unclear, but it may indicate he was from the Judean village of Kerioth... Others named Judas in ancient Jewish and Christian literature include Judas Maccabeus, Judas Barsabbas, Judas the Galilean, and Judas, son of James... Judas was played by Ben Vereen in the original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar from 1971-73.
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