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Judas Iscariot
by [?]

This early essay of the church to harmonize the difficult expressions employed in the Acts of the Apostles–an essay which, therefore, recognises at once the fact that these expressions really were likely to perplex the simple-hearted, and not merely such readers as systematically raised cavils–was brought forward in the earliest era of the church, and under the sanction of the very highest authority, viz., by one who sat at the feet of the beloved apostle; by one, therefore, who, if he had not seen Christ, had seen familiarly him in whom Christ most confided. But I will report the case in the words of that golden-mouthed rhetorician, that Chrysostom of the English Church, from whose lips all truth came mended, and who, in spite of Shakespeare himself, found it possible

‘To gild refined gold, to paint the lily.
And add another perfume to the violet.’

The following is the account given by Jeremy Taylor of the whole history, in so far as it affects the Scripture report of what Judas did, and what finally he suffered:–‘Two days before the passover, the Scribes and Pharisees called a council to contrive crafty ways [Footnote: Otherwise, it must naturally occur to every reader–What powers could Judas furnish towards the arrest of Jesus beyond what the authorities in Jerusalem already possessed? But the bishop suggests that the dilemma was this:–By day it was unsafe to seize him, such was the veneration of the populace for his person. If done at all, it must be done during the darkness. But, precisely during those hours, Christ withdrew into solitudes known only to his disciples. So that to corrupt one of these was the preliminary step to the discovery of that secret.] of destroying Jesus, they not daring to do it by open violence. Of which meeting, when Judas Iscariot had notice (for those assemblies were public and notorious) he ran from Bethany, and offered himself to betray his Master to them, if they would give him a considerable reward. They agreed for thirty pieces of silver.’ In a case so memorable as this, nothing is or can be trivial; and even that curiosity is not unhallowed which has descended to inquire what sum, at that era of Jewish history, this expression might indicate. The bishop replies thus:–‘Of what value each piece was, is uncertain; but their own nation hath given a rule, that, when a piece of silver is named in the Pentateuch, it signifies a sicle; if it be named in the Prophets, it signifies a pound; if in the other writings of the Old Testament, it signifies a talent.’ For this, besides other less familiar authority, there is cited the well-known Arius Montanus, in the Syro-Chaldaic dictionary. It is, however, self-evident that any service open to Judas would have been preposterously overpaid by thirty talents, a sum which exceeded five thousand pounds sterling. And since this particular sum had originally rested on the authority of a prophet, cited by one of the evangelists,[Footnote: Viz., St. Matthew. Upon which the bishop notices the error which had crept into the prevailing text of Jeremias instead of Zecharias. But in the fourth century, some copies had already corrected this reading; which, besides, had a traditional excuse in the proverbial saying that the spirit of Jeremiah had settled and found a resting-place in Zecharias.] ‘it is probable,’ proceeds the bishop, ‘that the price at which Judas sold his lord was thirty pounds weight of silver [that is, about ninety guineas sterling in English money]–a goodly price for the Saviour of the world to be prized at by his undiscerning and unworthy countrymen.’ Where, however, the learned writer makes a slight oversight in logic, since it was not precisely Christ that was so valued–this prisoner as against the certain loss of this prisoner–but simply this particular mode of contending with the difficulty attached to his apprehension, so that, in the worst case, this opportunity lost might be replaced by other opportunities; and the price, therefore, was not calculated as it would have been under one solitary chance.