Why was Judas necesary for the capture of Jesus?

The scriptures portray Jesus as a very well known person in Jerusalem.
But the soldiers wouldn’t recognise him, so Judas had to indicate him by kissing him. Isn’t that strange? They could simply arrest him in broad daylight, during one of his public teachings and no need for spending 30 silver coins :confused:

Was the whole “betrayal” thing added later, to make the story more dramatic?

My answer is that it was probably a literary device, but my explanation is really more suited to GD than GQ.

But then, any answer to this is really debatable.

Speaking purely within the story, Judas was “needed” to first locate Jesus for the Romans and then to identify him.

Jesus may or may not have been well known with Jersusalem but that didn’t mean everybody knew what he looked like. There wasn’t any tv or magazines. There wasn’t even much in the way of portraits. The only way to know what Jesus looked like was to see him for yourself.

The Romans would have even less reason to know what he looked like since they were not interested in Jewish religious leaders unless they were causing trouble.

There is much more than that in the subtext but simple identification is plausible within the story’s historical context.

Mat 27:9 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;

Mat 27:10 And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

Actually, it wasn’t just Roman soldiers who are sent to arrest Jesus, some of them are servants and slaves of the Temple priests as well. Judas was supposedly working on behalf of the priests but sending him for identification purposes alone does seem rather thin. I suppose just getting someone to show them where he was might have been a motive.

Really, it’s all about the subtext, though.

According to the gospel accounts, Christ spent most of his time out of Jerusalem, in the countryside, travelling around. He had certainly been to Jerusalem before – remember his clearing the moneylenders out of the Temple forecourt? – but he didn’t stay there for long periods. It wasn’t safe.

On the occasion of his arrest, he had only been in Jerusalem for four or five days. His other stays may have been similarly brief.

And, remember, if you hadn’t seen Jesus in the flesh, you really had no idea what he looked like. There were no pictures – a verbal description was the best you would have to go on. And Jerusalem was a big city; there would have been lots of people in Jerusalem who had never seen Jesus, or certainly who hadn’t seen him closely enough to be sure of recognising him again in the dark.

The High Priest’s soldiers would certainly have wanted an informer to tell them where Jesus could be found to be arrested, and would probably have wanted one to to identify him for arrest. Bear in mind that, while the Gospels present Jesus as allowing himself to be arrested without either hiding or resisting, the High Priest’s soldiers couldn’t have known that he would do that.

Of course the symbolism of the Judas story is immense and, even if the story is not a fabrication, it may well have been tailored somewhat. But, simply looking at the gospels as a factual narrative, the story is not implausible.

This plays into the case for the betrayal being a literary device.

I can’t quote chapter and verse but doesn’t it say that the Jewish leaders didn’t dare try to arrest him publicly, for fear of crowd reaction?

Would this be the same crowd that shouted for Barabas to be released and JC to be held captive and executed?

Arresting him amidst an enthralled crowd of thousands would have been physically risky and lousy PR. It was far wiser to arrest him at night, with only his 12 disciples around. It would have been pretty hard to know where he was, and identify him in the dark, without some help.

Although, I can’t quote the source, there is also credible evidence that Jesus and Judas had a complicit relationship in delivering Jesus up. Judas simply received the bounty because he was accompanying Jesus, I believe it was customary and a duty of sorts by Jewish cultural standards.

The ancient Jews had a very broad definition of idolatry. Pretty much any realistic representation of a human being was forbidden. (This might still be the case; I’m told that Israeli money doesn’t have any portraits on it.) Thus, if they wanted to make sure that it was really Jesus they were arresting, they would need someone who knew him by sight. And as had been mentioned, they didn’t know that he would come quietly, without running away or trying to deny that he was the guy they wanted.

His public teachings were public. So, the Romans wouldn’t try to bag the guy in front of hundreds of his followers, they’d try to catch him quietly, & avoid the religious rioting that was and is common in that part of the world.

Less fuss, less risk, to do it on the QT. Today, our modern cops do gang busts the same way, at 3AM, or in private. Less resistance.

There are two approaches to the answer.

  1. The approach by those committed to the completer reliability of the entire Bible.

2 The approach the the Bible is a compilation of stories, myths, etc.

A reading of the Gospel accounts of the arrest and trial shows plainly that it was instigated by the temple priests, etc. and they convinced the Romans to provide the “police” power to do so. Their actions were NOT in accord with The Law, hence the arrest, interrogations (trials), etc. were conducted at night.

You can debate the second view for days on end with no consensus.

There is no way we can have a factual answer to this one. Off to Great Debates.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

Uhmm, I might very well be mistaken but where does it say it was Roman soldiers? I always thought it was the temple guards that did the actual arrest.

I thought this to be even more propaganda that it was the Jews that betrayed Christ, not the Romans.
Lovely race the Romans, nice master, nooo, us Christians not like them rebellious Jews, nooo, us hates them too, sseee we like Romans, we do.

That’s also what I’ve read. Although we see it now as “betrayal,” whatever Greek word was used isn’t usually tranlsated as ‘betray.’ What may have happened was that Jesus knew he has going to be arrested, and arranged for it to happen peacefully. He had Judas lead the arresters to him, and, as devilsknew said, it was SOP to give a bounty.

“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”

  • John 18:3

That makes them pretty much like crowds everywhere, doesn’t it? “All hail Bush, the great and noble leader of our men and wom… hey, wait a minute! Hang the son of a bitch!”

The word in both John and Mark is [symbol]paradidomi[/symbol], meaning to give over, as in commending someone or something. Note that this is not the same word by shich Jesus commended His spirit. That word is [symbol]paratithemi[/symbol], meaning to place beside or set before.

Thanks for pointing me.
However I see no mention of Romans.
John speaks of *cohortem[i/]. Marc and luke use the word turba, which is more like a crowd. Matthew says turba multa.

So does john mean an actual Roman cohors (that would be around 480 soldiers!) or does he just mean ‘a large group’?
Unfortunately my greek is not that well ‘speiran’ and ‘ochlos’ seem to be the words used? ‘Ochlos’ I find as ‘multitude’
Hmm, ‘speiran’ looks more difficult…