The TJ's author. When Isa Rashid started reading into the Talmud of Jmmanuel (TJ) scrolls, he soon learned that Judas Iscariot was listed as the author. This must have taken him very much by surprise, but with the aged Aramaic scrolls in front of him, he was in no position to doubt its truth. Further in the TJ, Rashid could translate that Judas, who was the only one of the twelve disciples who could read and write, had been assigned the task of writing down Jmmanuel's ministry and teachings as well as being their treasurer (as indicated also in the Gospel of John).

The TJ relates that Judas, who probably joined the group of disciples after the Sermon on the Mount, soon started chronicling the events of Jmmanuel's ministry. However, this writing was stolen from Judas's belongings at a point in time only a little later than when Jmmanuel and his disciples had walked through the grainfield on the sabbath, plucking and eating ears of grain (Matthew 12:1). The theft caused Judas to postpone writing any more until he could find a secure place to do it, which did not occur until two or more years after the crucifixion, after Judas joined Jmmanuel, his mother and Judas-Thomas in Damascus. Then, although he had to write it all over again from memory, Judas Iscariot (not to be confused with Judas-Thomas, one of Jmmanuel's brothers) could tap Jmmanuel's memory on many items. So for his later, more complete writing, Judas learned from Jmmanuel and Mary all about his genealogy and nativity, with which he could begin the TJ. I suspect that Jmmanuel re-dictated the Sermon on the Mount to him, and that only after that point could Judas rely to some extent on his own memory. He continued his writing of events as they transpired in India, also, until his death. Then the writing was taken over by Jmmanuel's oldest son, who carried the scrolls, plus their transcription, along the Silk Road back to the West after Jmmanuel died in the early 2nd century. Thus, the TJ and the Gospels (and also the Gnostic writings) had a late start, since the TJ was not completed until after Jmmanuel's death. The summary of highlights from the latter portions of the TJ scrolls/rolls that never survived for translation was made known to Meier later in 1963 by Rashid, after he had made an initial read-through of them.

How was it, then, that Judas did not commit suicide? What the TJ relates, which of course did not get carried over into the Gospel of Matthew, is that the person who pointed Jmmanuel out to the arresting party with a kiss, on the night in which he was betrayed, was a young Pharisee by the name of Juda Ihariot, who had been an acquaintance of Jmmanuel and the disciples. But after he saw the beating Jmmanuel received and heard that the Sanhedrin had given him a death sentence, he suffered remorse and went off and committed suicide.

But this is only half the story. It occurred to one of the chief priests, who had been trying to undermine Jmmanuel's credibility and authority (as suggested even in Mt 21:23 and 21:45-46), to initiate a rumor that it had been Judas Iscariot who had betrayed his lord and soon after committed suicide, not Juda Ihariot. With the names being so similar, it was especially easy for him to initiate this rumor, circulate it within the synagogues, and let it gradually become tradition. Doing this also spared Juda's father some embarrassment over his son's suicide, as he was an important Pharisee. Many decades later, after the TJ scrolls had been delivered back to the west and the transcription had reached the hands of the writer of Matthew, this writer must have recoiled to see that Judas Iscariot was stated to be its author. Since the writer of Matthew had no doubt himself been a Pharisee and probably a scribe as well, before converting to Christianity, he would have known of the tradition that Judas Iscariot had been a traitor. Thus it is perfectly understandable that this writer could not have put Judas Iscariot's name onto his gospel, which he instead attributed to the disciple Matthew. Subsequent gospel writers would follow suit and attribute their gospels to others also, but with the name Matthew used up, there were really no credible names left for them to utilize. It also becomes more understandable that the writer of Matthew would have no qualms about editing his source document very heavily, since it was written by the detested Judas Iscariot; perhaps he did not even believe that Judas had written it and instead trusted the false tradition that he had committed suicide.

Gospel clues that support the TJ story. There are a number of important clues:

(a) Some scholars have long wondered why one of Jesus' disciples would betray him for just a relatively small amount of money. It didn't make much sense.

(b) The Last Supper conversation in which Judas supposedly asked Jesus "Is it I, Lord?" regarding the betrayer, and received a positive response, has often been criticized. Why didn't the other disciples immediately become upset and attempt to restrain Judas? Or, if the conversation were whispered, how did it later become known to a gospel writer, what with Judas and Jesus both supposedly dead soon? With the TJ's story, one can realize that the writer of Matthew not only altered the TJ's "Juda Ihariot" into "Judas Iscariot" at this point, but also invented an altered supper conversation to accompany it. The invented verses weren't quite well enough thought out to be free from later objections, however.

(c) The kiss by which the betrayer pointed Jesus out to the arresting party doesn't make sense if it had been bestowed by Judas Iscariot, so soon after having supped with his lord. Instead of allaying any suspicions Jesus would have had that foul play was afoot, it would only have intensified those suspicions. But the kiss having been given by Juda Ihariot, as the TJ indicates, and in a pose of reconciliation, does make sense, as he would not have seen Jmmanuel for some days or weeks. There is only this one kissing event in the Gospels that might give rise to a supposition that Jesus had been kissed out of reverence.

(d) Paul did not seem to know that Judas Iscariot was a betrayer or had committed suicide. He doesn't discuss suicide, using Judas as an example, when he might well have done so. (The Communion litany in 1 Cor 11:23 is believed by many analysts to be a later addition.) He never mentions "the eleven" (disciples), and when he once mentions the twelve (1 Cor 15:5) it was in the temporal frame of being very shortly after the crucifixion. At the early time of his writings, it is extremely doubtful that "the twelve" had already become a synonym for "the apostles," however many their number. Thus, Paul possibly never knew about the rumor that Judas Iscariot was a betrayer and had committed suicide, or more likely knew for sure who had been the betrayer but was honest enough after his conversion not to spread a false rumor.

There are several Gnostic writings that also seem unaware of Judas's supposed role as a betrayer who committed suicide, as they also mention "the twelve" or "the twelve disciples" after the crucifixion when only eleven would have been appropriate according to the tradition. These occur in the Gospel of Peter (14:2), in the Coptic manuscript "Sophia Jesu Christi" (2nd verse), in the title to the tractate "The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles," in the Apocryphon of James (2:14), and twice in the Ascension of Isaiah. It is also found in the primitive Hebrew text of Matthew translated by George Howard [The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987; 28:16)]. Thus it very much seems as if the rumor/tradition of Judas being a betrayer and having committed suicide shortly before the crucifixion did not become widely known until it was placed within the first Gospel.

More on the naming of the Gospels. Modern scholars tend to believe that the Gospels did not receive their names or attributions until close to mid-second century. This is because of all the writings by early Christian fathers up to that time, none mention a Gospel by name. Actually, no writing even definitely cites Gospel verses, even without naming a Gospel, until around A.D. 135 (the possible exception of Ignatius is discussed in my home page). However, the same scholars mostly tend to believe that the Gospels were nevertheless written within 1-3 decades after A.D. 70. They can then argue that if the Gospels had been given their names back then, it would be inconceivable that this wouldn't have been mentioned in the appropriate Christian literature.

More conservative scholars, following Martin Engel, have argued that it would be unthinkable that the Gospels could have circulated without names for some six decades, and then suddenly show up with names attached. And if their names had been attached late, as the modern scholars deduce, why would such improbable names as Mark and Luke, who were not even apostles, have been chosen as their authors, unless they actually had been their writers or had been closely attached to the gospels' formation?

Both arguments are extremely convincing, within their assumptive frameworks. Yet the TJ provides the solutions to this dilemma. Since the TJ didn't arrive on the scene in the Palestinian or Anatolian area until a decade or two into the 2nd century, and only soon after that was the first Gospel written, this explains why the Gospels weren't mentioned by name before then. This voids the key point of the above arguments by both the modern scholars and the conservative scholars. And as to why the writers of the Gospels chose inappropriate names to attribute the authorship to, they could not have used Judas, as already mentioned. The writer of Matthew had already substituted the name of the disciple who had been a tax collector to attribute his gospel to. Since Mark (John Mark) had been in Rome with Peter, so the external evidence says, and they had had some written document with them (which could have been the stolen writing, recovered later by Peter), that writer attributed his gospel to Mark. The writer of Luke didn't know of any other disciple who could read and write to attribute his gospel to, and so chose Luke the physician, a friend of Paul, whose views the writer of Luke seems to have favored. (His gospel may well have been written in Antioch, the abode of Luke according to tradition). The writer of the Gospel of John apparently felt it was more important to attribute his gospel to one of the twelve disciples than to be concerned about whether the disciple could read and write.

In summary, there are very compelling reasons why the TJ's story of Judas Iscariot being its author needs to be treated very seriously indeed.

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