Judas in Paul

From Bart Ehrman’s The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot:

and it is here that Paul may, in the opinion of some readers, make a reference to Judas Iscariot. Paul begins his recollection with the following (this is how the passage is sometimes translated):

For I received from the Lord that which I also handed over to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and after giving thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body given for you.” (1 Cor. 11:23–24)

The key phrase for us, of course, is the statement that this took place “on the night in which he was betrayed.” Surely this is a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, so even though the betrayer is not mentioned by name, it is clear that Paul knows all about the incident.

But in fact the matter is not so clear. The problem has to do with the Greek word that Paul uses when he says that Jesus was “betrayed” (Paul, and all the other authors of the New Testament, wrote in Greek). The word is common in the New Testament—Paul himself uses it over fifteen times in his letters, including one other time in the passage I just quoted. When Paul says that the information he is now relating is what he also “handed over” to the Corinthians, it is the same word he uses when he indicates that Jesus was “betrayed.” The Greek word is paradidomi—and it literally means “to give or hand someone or something over to someone else.”

Is Paul referring, then, to Judas Iscariot handing Jesus over to the ruling authorities for trial? Probably not, for in every other instance that Paul uses paradidomi with reference to Jesus, it refers to the act of God, who “handed Jesus over” to death for the sake of others.

About christopher fisher

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2 Responses to Judas in Paul

  1. Tom Torbeyns says:

    I don’t think one should make a big mystery out of Paul using this word. :-)

  2. Raccko (@racckoff) says:

    Paul writes:
    [quote]
    For I received from the Lord that which I also handed over to you, that the Lord Jesus[b], on the night in which he was betrayed[/b], took bread, and after giving thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body given for you.” (1 Cor. 11:23–24)
    [/quote]
    It’s just a snippet, but I think it means Paul knows about this story.
    Kind of a play on words there. Paul was “hands over” to his audience…. Jesus was “betrayed”/”handed over” (ie. to the Sanhedrin).
    Just as Paul is one person handing over to many (the gentiles), Judas was one person handing over to the Sanhedrin. The Corinthians are contrasted with the Sanhedrin.

    Ehrman comments:
    When Paul says that the information he is now relating is what he also “handed over” to the Corinthians, it is the same word he uses when he indicates that Jesus was “betrayed.” The Greek word is paradidomi—and it literally means “to give or hand someone or something over to someone else.” Is Paul referring, then, to Judas Iscariot handing Jesus over to the ruling authorities for trial? Probably not, for in every other instance that Paul uses paradidomi with reference to Jesus, it refers to the act of God, who “handed Jesus over” to death for the sake of others.

    Ehrman I expect is making a misreading here.
    ” Jesus of Nazareth being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22-23).

    It doesn’t say God Himself handed Jesus over. It only says that the handing over (ie. betrayal) was according to God’s plan. There’s a big difference when you want to consider the meaning of the phrase “____ handed Jesus over.”

    Ehrman needs to give a quote where handing over of Jesus directly definitely does not refer to betrayal of Jesus or to someone who controls Jesus as a prisoner hands him over.

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