Some modern Bible scholars question the gospel account of Judas' motivation for betraying Jesus. The subject has surfaced again with the "launch"
of the Gospel of Judas
Specifically, church tradition claims that at least part of the reason Judas betrayed Jesus was because he was guilty of emblezzlement, and was about
to be caught:
John 12: 4-6 (niv)
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It
was worth a year's wages." He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he
used to help himself to what was put into it.
Indeed, the amount paid by the chief priests was only 30 denarii, basically only a couple of months' salary, at most.
So why then would Judas have betrayed his best friend over such a trifling amount? Modern scholars doubt that imbezzlement was reason enough to set
Jesus up--they argue that Judas could merely have fled.
I want to make a comparison with modern US culture, though. Specifically, Latino Pop-culture.
The Latina songstress Selena is a pivotal figure for Mexican-American identity. She was the US born daughter of Mexican Immigrants, and English was
her first language. Yet she embraced her Latina roots, and forged an identity that embraced the Hispanic ideal of women that dress provocatively, but
remain demure and virtuous.
Selena tribute site
I mention Selena because of the nature of her death. She was murdered by Yolanda Saldivar, the founder of the Selena fan club, and the financial
of Selena's mushrooming fashion empire.
Yolanda was widely considered to be one of Selena's inner circle, who felt left out and ignored when Selena hit the big time. She later explained
her embezzling as taking what she deserved for all the hard work she put in before Selena had become famous.
Selena's family became aware of Saldivar's financial misdeeds, and insisted that Selena fire her one-time confidant. Selena at first refused to
believe the evidence, but eventually agreed to confront Yolanda and fire her.
When they met, Yolanda was crushed, and seems to have flown into a psychotic rage, less because of the money than because of her own shame at her
betrayal of a best friend.
Yolanda produced a gun and fatally shot Selena, while simultaneously screaming that she loved Selena, and was her
first and biggest fan.
Yolanda Saldivar at wikipedia
I bring up the example of Selena's betrayal as a way of pointing out that, despite the incongruity of Judas' traitorous act being tied to
embezzling, a parallel drama has occured
in recent history, and the victim was considered an icon of the underclass.
If Yolanda Saldizar could betray her best friend and turn her back on the 'movement' they had founded together, why couldn't Judas the bandit?
(the term for bandits "sicarii," is one suggested origin of the title "iscariot.")
Just a bit of food for thought concerning the orthodox account of Judas.