Joe Wallack




Mark 14:

   And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.
11   And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

Let’s consider Judas’ motivation for betraying Jesus and who is motivating Judas. Judas’ initial motivation for betrayal is unclear here. There is an implication that he did it for money. The name ‘Judas’ is also suspect as this is the most Jewish sounding of all the disciples’ names. The “who” here are the chief Priests.

Matthew 26:

14   Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
15   And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
16   And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Judas’ motivation here is explicitly monetary. Thirty pieces of silver doesn’t seem like very much and Judas makes no attempt to negotiate (more doubt that “Judas” was Jewish). The who here are still the chief Priests.

Note that “Matthew” later uses “thirty pieces of silver” as a claim of prophecy fulfillment:

Matthew 27: (KJV)

9 “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.”

But there is no such direct quote from Jeremiah and you couldn’t even piece the above together by sifting through all of Jeremiah. This creates doubt as to the historicity of the “thirty pieces of silver”.

Luke 22:

3   Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
4   And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.
5   And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
6   And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

Judas’ motivation here is explicitly Satan. Note that the sum of supposed money becomes unimportant because it’s no longer the primary motivation and “Luke” doesn’t use it as prophecy fulfillment. This also creates the following possible contradiction here between “Luke” and “Matthew”:

Luke 22: (KJV)

5 “And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.”  

Compare to Matthew 26: (KJV)

15 “and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” 

The KJV’s “covenanted” for Matthew is a mistranslation and should be “paid”. Almost every other major, modern Christian translation says the equivalent of “paid”. Even the NKJV says “paid”. So “Luke’s” Judas by implication, (covenanted) didn’t receive money up front but “Matthew’s” Judas did. More doubt.

As to the “who” according to “Luke”, now it’s “the chief Priests and captains”. So the group of Jews is growing.

John 13:

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
28 “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Judas’ motivation here is explicitly Satan. Note that “John’s” Judas has no need to ask the chief Priests for money as he is already Holding the disciples’ money. So “John” provides another reason to doubt that Judas was paid anything here or even was motivated by money.

“John” doesn’t make explicit who Judas plotted with but implies that it was the chief Priests and Pharisees:

John 18
3 “So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.”

According to Emmerich Judas’ initial motivation was money. He was persuaded to betray Jesus by the Pharisees and Saduccees as a group and Satan.

Evaluation of level of anti-Semitism on PLOT portion of movie:

1) DOUBT -

     WHAT was Judas’ primary motivation?

     “Mark” ― Possibly no reason or possibly for money.

     “Matthew” ― Money in general and specifically thirty pieces of silver.

     “Luke” ― Satan.

     “John” ―- Satan.

     Emmerich ― Money.

     HOW much was Judas paid?

    “Mark” ― Unspecified amount.

    “Matthew” ― Thirty pieces of silver.
                          1) Doesn’t seem like very much.
                           2) A related incorrect prophecy fulfillment is claimed.

    “Luke” ― Unspecified amount.
                    1) “Luke” implies a deal was made but there was no payment at this
                         time while “Matthew” implies there was payment made at this time.

    “John” ― Nothing.
                   1) “John” indicates that Judas was in charge of the money so he
                        wouldn’t need to bargain for money from the chief Priests.                                       

    “Emmerich” ― Thirty pieces of silver.

WHO did Judas plot with?

“Mark” ― chief Priests.

“Matthew” ― chief Priests.

“Luke” ― chief Priests and captains.

“John” ― (by implication) chief Priests and Pharisees.

Emmerich” ― chief Priests and Pharisees.

Conclusion as to Doubt:

Significant doubt exists as to WHAT was Judas’ primary motivation (money vs. Satan), WHAT was Judas’ compensation (unspecified sum, 30 pieces of silver or nothing) and WHO Judas plotted with (Chief Priests only or chief Priests and Captains or chief Priests and Pharisees). Presenting some group of Jews as doing the Impossible (killing God) is increasingly anti-Semitic to the extent doubt exists as to supposed historical facts.

2) CHOICES made by Gibson.

     WHAT was Judas’ primary motivation?

In the Gethsemane scene Gibson chose to show a hooded Satan tempting Jesus. In the Plot scene Gibson choose to show a hooded High Priest tempting Judas thereby comparing the High Priest with Satan. Showing a Judas, with the most Jewish possible sounding name, as being motivated by Satan is the most possible negative portrayal here.

     HOW much was Judas paid?

Gibson chose to use the most definite information given by any source, thirty pieces of silver, even though there are good reasons to doubt the historicity. This relates to doubt, discussed above.

    WHO did Judas plot with?

Gibson chose to use the broadest group of Jews from his possible sources, the priests and the Pharisees. The degree of anti-Semitism increases as one chooses to show a larger group of Jews negatively.

FAITH, n. Belief without evidence, in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.


Copyright © 2004, Joseph Wallack. All rights reserved.