Glossary of Terms



Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Judas (Gk. for the Heb. Judah).

  1. Judas, the son of Jacob (Matt. 1:2-3).
  2. Judas, an ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:30).
  3. Judas Maccabeus, the third of the five sons of Mattathias. After Antiochus IV Epiphanes polluted the Temple in 167 b.c. (‘the abomination that makes desolate’) Mattathias moved with his family to Modein (1 Macc. 2:1-14). When officers of Antiochus sought to force Mattathias and his family to apostasize, Mattathias rose up in defense of the law and the covenant, killed an officer, and led his sons into the wilderness in revolt (1 Macc. 2:15-48). Upon the death of his father, Judas successfully led Israel in numerous battles against the Syrians. He defeated a combined army of Syrians and Samaritans (1 Macc. 2:49-4:35), the Syrians led by Seron, the Syrians led by Gorgias, and the Syrians led by Lysias, after which the Temple was purified (1 Macc. 4:36-61; cf. John 10:22). Judas continued to lead Israel in battle with great success, liberating Jews from surrounding territories and even making a treaty with Rome. Finally, against a Syrian army led by Bacchides, Judas fell in battle in 160 b.c. (1 Macc. 9:1-18).
  4. Judas, the son of Chalphi, an officer of Jonathan Maccabeus (1 Macc. 11:70).
  5. Judas, the son of Simon Maccabeus and nephew of Judas Maccabeus who with his brother John successfully led the forces of Israel against Candebeus (1 Macc. 16:2-10).
  6. Judas, one of the senders of a letter to Aristobolus (2 Macc. 1:10).
  7. Judas of Galilee, a Jewish leader who led a revolt against Rome during the census of Quirinius (Acts 5:37). Josephus credits him with founding the ‘sect’ of the zealots.
  8. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, the son of Simon Iscariot. He is to be distinguished from the other apostle called Judas (John 14:22). The origin of the name Iscariot is debated. Some suggestions are: man (Heb., ish) of Karioth; the assassin (from Gk. sikarios); man from Issachar. Certainty is impossible, but if the first is correct, Judas was the only apostle from Judea. Judas possessed a privileged position among the apostles as treasurer of the group (John 12:5-6; 13:29). His proximity to Jesus at the Lord’s Supper (John 13:21-26) also suggests this. Why he betrayed Jesus is uncertain. Some suggestions are that he did it (Mark 14:10-11) after being convinced that Jesus truly planned to die (Mark 14:3-9); that he did it for money (Matt. 26:14-16); or that he did it to help Jesus fulfill his purpose of dying! The last suggestion, however, is at odds with Jesus’ words in Mark 14:21. Despite a loving gesture by Jesus (John 13:26-27), Judas proceeded to betray his Lord. What Judas betrayed is easier to answer. One suggestion is that he betrayed Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, but his absence at the trial, when such witnesses were sought, refutes this. What he betrayed was how Jesus could be arrested privately (Mark 14:1-2). This he did in Gethsemane by singling him out at night with a kiss. Upon reflecting over what he had done, Judas experienced remorse and sought to undo his evil deed (Matt. 27:3-4), but it was not possible. In sorrow he hanged himself (Matt. 27:5) and, falling headlong, his body split open and his bowels fell out (Acts 1:18).
  9. Judas, the son of James and one of the apostles (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13; John 14:22). This is probably the Thaddaeus of Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18. The qualification of Judas in these latter two passages only makes sense if there were another Judas in the group.
  10. Judas, one of the four brothers of Jesus (Mark 6:3) whom tradition associated with the author of Jude.
  11. Judas, a man in whose home in Damascus the blind Saul was brought (Acts 9:11).
  12. Judas Barsabbas, a leader in the Jerusalem church chosen along with Silas to accompany Paul and Barnabus back to Antioch in order to announce the apostolic decree (Acts 15:22-23). It is possible that he and Joseph (Acts 1:23) were brothers.

To explore the relationship between the Judas and the other disciples, browse:


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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