Archive for the ‘Judas Apocryphon’ Category

Work in Progress

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Apocryphicity has suffered from considerable neglect lately. There are several reasons for this. For one, I am under review for Tenure, and the file preparation has taken some of my time. Also, I have a heavy course load this semester. And, there has been an illness (and subsequent death) in the family, leading to the abandonment of my SBL paper (see further below) and a curtailing of other projects.

Nevertheless, it’s probably time to put some work into my languishing Blog. I thought I’d begin with some updates on a variety of projects.

1.  I look forward very soon to seeing the proofs for my critical edition of the Greek tradition of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.  The edition is based on my 2001 doctoral dissertation (available HERE) and is to be published in the Corpus Christianorum Series Apocryphorum. The editing process has taken a considerable amount of time, but the end product will be much superior to the dissertation. We should see the edition some time in 2010 (hopefully by the l’AELAC Réunion in June).

2. I am following up my Greek edition of IGT with work on the Syriac tradition of the text (for more information see HERE). This was the focus of two presentations last year (at the l’AELAC Réunion and at SBL). The first of these, focusing specifically on the Ms Vat. Syr. 159, is currently under revision. I am supplementing the paper with readings from a second, similar Ms (Mingana 105).

3. This past summer Slavomir Ceplo and I presented a paper on the Syriac tradition of the Legend of the Thirty Silver Pieces (for more, see HERE). We will revise the paper for publication once we finally obtain the last remaining Ms of the text.

4. My paper on Christian Apocrypha in Ancient Libraries (mentioned HERE) for this year’s SBL Annual Meeting has been canceled (due to illness/death in the family). I will continue work on the topic, perhaps resubmitting the paper for next year’s meeting.

5. Much of my time over the summer was spent translating a well-known text from the OT pseudepigrapha from Syriac into English for a top-secret publication that should appear in the Spring or Summer of 2010. It is a lengthy text, and it has never been translated into English (or any modern language) before, so it was a big challenge that strained by still-developing skills in Syriac.

So, you see I am not dead, merely busy and distracted. But I promise that Apocryphicity will be more active for the foreseeable future.

The Legend of the Thirty Pieces of Silver

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Way back in April 2008 I mentioned coming across a new Judas apocryphon (The Legend of the Thirty Pieces of Silver) in a Garshuni Ms. Turns out it was not that new after all, but it has been all-but-forgotten in scholarship for over a century. Slavomír ÄŒéplö of Comenius University in Slovakia and I decided to pursue the text and have put together a critical edition (or two) of the Syriac tradition of LTPS.

The Syriac version of the text was first seen in two previous editions of Solomon of Basra’s Book of the Bee, a collection of theological and historical texts covering events and figures from creation to the final day of resurrection. Our edition draws on the Bee Mss as well as eight additional unpublished Syriac Mss and two in Garshuni. The material is divided into two recensions: a Western recension found in five Serta Mss and the two in Garshuni, and an Eastern recension in the remaining three Madhnaya Mss and the Book of the Bee.

LTSP has been published also as part of the works of three Western writers: Godfrey of Viterbo’s Pantheon (ca. 1185), Ludolph of Suchem’s De Itinere Terrae Sanctae (ca. 1350-1361), and John of Hildesheim’s Historia trium Regum (ca. 1364-1375). And the text is extant in additional unpublished Latin Mss and in Arabic, Armenian (discussed HERE), and several European languages including German, English, Italian, Spanish and Catalan. The Syriac version differs notably from the Western versions by its inclusion of the story of Abgar, a well-known Syriac legend.

Reproduced here is the English translation of our Western recension. Further information about the text will be provided in our presentation at the SBL International Annual Meeting in Rome next month and in a forthcoming article.


The story of the origin of the thirty silver pieces which Iscariot received as the price of the Messiah. These pieces which Judas received from the Jewish priests, where are they from and what is their story?

These pieces were made by Terah, the father of Abraham. Abraham gave them to his son Isaac. And Isaac bought a village with them. The master of  it brought them to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh sent them to Solomon, the son of David, for the temple he was building. And Solomon took the pieces and placed them round the door of the altar.

When Nebuchadnezzar came and took captive the children of Israel, he entered the temple of Solomon and saw that these pieces were beautiful, and he took and brought them to Babylon with the captive children of Israel.

And there were some Persians there as hostages. When Nebuchadnezzar came from Jerusalem, they sent him everything fit for kings. And when king Nebuchadnezzar saw that all they had sent him was beautiful, he released their sons and gave them many presents. He gave them also those pieces. And the Persians brought them to their fathers.

When Christ was born and they saw the star, they rose and took those pieces and gold and myrrh and frankincense. They took those pieces and set forth on a journey until they reached the vicinity of Edessa. The day grew dark and they fell asleep on the side of the road. And in the morning they arose to continue their journey. They left those pieces where they slept and did not know it. Some merchants came and found the pieces.

And they came to the vicinity of Edessa by a well of water. And on that very day an angel came to the shepherds of that land and he gave them a garment without a seam on the upper end. And he said to them, “Take the garment in which is life to humanity.” The shepherds took the garment and came to a well of water. And they found the merchants who had found the pieces near the well of water. They said to the merchants, “Will you buy this beautiful garment without seam at the upper end?” The merchants said to them, “Bring it here.” And when the merchants saw this garment, they marveled at it very much. The merchants said to the shepherds, “We have beautiful pieces worthy of a kings. Take them and give us this garment.”

When the merchants had taken the garment, they arrived in the city and stopped at an inn. Abgar the king sent for the merchants and said to them, “Have you anything worthy of a king that I could buy from you?” The merchants said to him, “Yes, we have a garment without a seam at the upper end.” When king Abgar saw that garment of which there was no equal, he said to them, “Where did you get this garment?” They said to him, “We came to a certain well by the gate of your city. And some shepherds said to us, ‘We have a garment without a seam at the upper end. Will you buy it?’ And we looked at the garment and saw that there was no other like it in the world. We had with us thirty pieces with images of kings which we gave to the shepherds and received the garment. And these pieces are worthy of kings such as yourself.”

When Abgar heard this, he sent for the shepherds and took the pieces from them. And Abgar sent the pieces and the garment to Christ for the good that he had done him with regard to Abgar’s disease from which he had cured him. When Christ saw the garment and the pieces, he took the garment and sent the pieces to the Jewish treasury. Our Lord knew their secrets. That is why he sent these pieces with which he would be bought.

And when the Jews came to Judas Iscariot they said to him, “Deliver to us Jesus, son of Joseph!” He said to them: “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they rose (and) got those thirty pieces and gave them to Judas Iscariot. And Iscariot returned them to the Jews. They bought with them a burial-place for strangers. And then they brought the pieces to Solomon’s temple and threw them into a fountain inside the temple—the pieces and the staff of Moses the prophet—and thus hid them.

The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

As mentioned in the previous post, Bernard Outtier published in 1999 an expanded version of the Abgar Correspondence from an Armenian manuscript ("Une forme enrichie de la Légende d’Abgar en arménien" from Apocryphes arménians. This form of the text features The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas, a text mentioned in a previous post. This short narrative is found also in Syriac, Garshuni, and Latin versions, though I do not as yet know how, or if, they differ from the Armenian version. Excerpted below is Outtier's French translation of the text with my English translation from the French.

Jésus dit à ses disciples :  « Savez‑vous d'où provient cet argent qu'Abgar nous a envoyé en présent ? » Et ils disent : « Nous ne savons pas. » Et Jésus dit : « Le père d'Abraham, Thara, a fait cet argent et avec cet argent il acheta la grotte aux fils d'Amor. Les Édesséniens prirent cet argent et achetèrent Joseph à ses frères. Et les frères de Joseph (le) portèrent en pré­sent à Joseph en Égypte. Les Égyptiens le portèrent en présent au roi Salomon, et le roi Salomon en fabriqua la porte du Temple. Quand Nabuchodonosor déporta Jérusalem, il brisa la porte, et on l'emporta à Babylone. Les Babyloniens le donnèrent aux Chaldéens. Les Chaldéens le donnèrent aux marchands, et les marchands le donnèrent aux bergers. Et Abgar, l'ayant reçu des bergers, nous l'a envoyé. Maintenant, prenez cet argent portez‑(le) aux prêtres et dites : ‘Jésus le Nazoréen vous l'a envoyé.’ » Et les prêtres, ayant pris l'argent, le donnèrent au vénal Judas, pour qu'il livre le Christ. Et Judas retourna l'argent et s'étouffa. Et les prêtres le donnèrent aux soldats qui gardaient le tombeau du Christ. Et, ayant pris l’argent, les soldats ne purent cacher l'éclatante et étonnante résurrection du Christ. Et ils (le) restituèrent aux prêtres, et les prêtres dirent : « Il ne faut pas garder cet argent, car c'est le prix du sang. » Puis ils donnèrent l’argent et achetèrent le champ du potier et (en) firent un cimetière d’étrangers.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do you know where this money that Abgar sent us as a gift comes from?” And they said: “We do not know.” And Jesus said: “The father of Abraham, Thara, made this money and with this money he bought the cave with the son of Amor. The Edessenians took the money and bought Joseph from his brothers. And the brothers of Joseph brought it as a gift to Joseph in Egypt. The Egyptians brought it as a gift to King Solomon, and King Solomon made the door of the Temple with it. When Nebuchadnezar deported Jerusalem, he broke the door and carried it to Babylon. The Babylonians gave it to the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans gave it to the merchants, and the merchants gave it to the shepherds. And Abgar, having received it from the shepherds gave it to us. Now, take this money and carry it to the priests and say: “Jesus the Nazarean sent it to you.” And the priests, having taken the money, gave it to venal Judas, for which he handed over Christ. And Judas turned over the money and hung himself. And the priests gave it to the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Christ. And they gave it back to the priests and the priests said: “This money should not be kept, because it is the price of blood.” Then they gave the money and bought the potter’s field and made it a cemetery for foreigners.

Another Judas Apocryphon?

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

While researching Syriac manuscripts for the Infancy Gospel of Thomas I came across a reference in a manuscript catalogue (W. Wright and S. A. Cook, A Catalogue of the Syriac Manuscripts preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge, 2 vol. Cambridge: University Press, 1901) to a text called “History of the silver which Judas received from the Jews as the price of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I have never heard of this text before and thought I’d ask here if anyone knows anything about it.

The manuscript is Cambridge Add. 2881. It is dated 1484 and comes from Damascus. It is written in Garshuni (i.e., Arabic in Syriac letters) with some portions in Arabic, but not the Judas text. The Judas text runs from f. 136b-138b. Also included here are several other apocryphal texts: Acts of Thomas (f. 53b), The Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ to his Disciples on the Mount of Olives (f. 103b), the Abgar Correspondence (f. 158b), The Relation of Pontius Pilate regarding the dealings of the Jews with our Lord, written in the year 18 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (f. 160a), and History of the Decease of the Virgin Mary (f. 223a).