Monday, November 13, 2006

Judas Sicariot?

Judas Iscariot is invariably placed last in the lists of the apostles(since he ultimately betrayed Jesus).

The word "Iscariot" was historically interpreted to mean "of Carioth." Carioth (or Kerioth) is a city in Judea. It is listed in the Book of Joshua among the cities in the southern territory originally assigned to the tribe of Judah. Based on that assumption, scholars have widely presumed that Judas was the only Judean in a group of Galileans. In that case, the assumption of being an outcast (an "outsider") was used to explain Judas’ behavior and ultimate betrayal, which seemed to make reasonable sense.

However, there is no indication anywhere (within the gospels or in contemporary secular writings) that Judas was a Judean rather than a Galilean - except for this very doubtful interpretation of the word "Iscariot." It was discovered that the oldest original Latin manuscripts read Judas Sicariot ... a 16th Century copyist had transposed the first two letters, and the word is more accurately "Sicariot." Judas was after all a Galilean, like all the other apostles, chosen by Jesus from the local area of Capernaum.

A "Sicariot" was a member of the political party of the "Sicarii," a sect of reactionary zealots who advocated the use of force to rid Israel of Roman subjugation, and who yearned for a powerful King to lead a military uprising against Roman occupiers. The name arose from the Greek word meaning "assassins," applied to men who carried small knives ("sicae") under their robes, and who believed in outright assassination of Romans (and their Jewish supporters) as the most direct and effective means of fighting foreign domination.

The most accurate English translation for his name would have been “Judas the Terrorist.” And his disappointment upon learning that Jesus was NOT the militant Messiah that the Siciarii had expected is an even more rational and logical explanation of Judas’ betrayal.


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