5

In an interview that the New York Times had with the author Amos Oz, there is a mention of Oz's interest in the New Testament, "which began when he was a 16-year-old, living on a kibbutz and spending his evenings in the library, reading the gospels." We then hear about Oz's thoughts on the Judas Iscariot figure:

[Oz] saw some glaring inconsistencies. Judas was a wealthy landowner, so why did he need those 30 pieces of silver, equivalent, Mr. Oz said, to no more than $600 today?

This perturbed me since I do not remember ever reading that Judas Iscariot was a "wealthy landowner," despite having had a lot of exposure to the New Testament over the years. The only link between land and Judas that I could think of was the episode at the end of his life where he dies and the blood money is used to purchase a potter's field. I also tried searching for "Judas" on Bible Gateway; the only result that seemed relevant was in Acts 1:16–19:

(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

To me, this is at best ambiguous. That "the reward of his wickedness" was the means with which Judas acquired the field implies to me that Judas was only able to buy this field because of the blood money. Furthermore, this does not shed light on Judas' prior financial position.

Am I missing something in my reasoning (both in terms of the text of the New Testament itself, and in terms of relevant historical knowledge or traditional interpretations), or is my scepticism towards Oz's reading justified?

4

As you have already noted in your reading, there is no biblical basis for Judas Iscariot as a wealthy landowner, at least prior to purchasing the field, as he does in Acts of the Apostles.

Contrary evidence is found in John 12:6, since a wealthy landowner would scarcely need to be a petty thief:

John 12:6 (NIV): 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.

It is equally unconvincing that a wealthy landowner would leave it all behind to follow Jesus on foot and share his privations, but then betray his master for what, to a wealthy landowner, would have been a small amount of money. The clearest modern non-fiction 1 reference to Judas as a wealthy landowner is in the Urantia Book, which provides what can only be described as a highly imaginative biography of the unfaithful disciple.

Amos Oz, the subject of the interview referenced in this question, is a novelist. He describes Judas Iscariot as a wealthy landowner but does not tell us the source of his information, although no doubt this factoid would make a good theme as part of his novel about Judas.


1In describing the Book of Urantia as 'non-fiction', I make no value judgement, but simply follow convention used in describing all scripture, as Urantia appears to be.

  • Dick, how is this possible? Someone speaking carelessly and ignorantly about something in Scripture. (shocked expression follows). Tell me it isn't so! – KorvinStarmast Dec 13 '16 at 22:52
  • Hi @KorvinStarmast Unfortunately, people do! – Dick Harfield Dec 13 '16 at 23:45
  • I was thinking there ought to have a basis to this claim since it was implied to be something that Mr. Oz knew; it's given in the context of ideas he drew from reading New Testament itself. – Maroon Dec 14 '16 at 2:07

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