interview with ABC and César Cevera back in April of this year. The following is the English translation of that interview. For Part 1 click here.
César Cevera: So, why would they put to death someone who was preaching a message of love?
AP: Jesus is not a cuddly character. He's tough, plays what life throws at him, continually having to flee from the "police." He has to feed a small group of followers, who all live on the charity of others which has to feed a small group of followers, who live on public charity. Then the Gospels, especially Matthew and Luke, portray Jesus as meek of heart, but that is a later reinterpretation. It's not who he really was.
César Cevera: When did the Romans take notice of Jesus?
AP: People don't know exactly, although there was more leeway in Judea than in Rome; the Lex Julia de collegiis prevented more than ten people from assembling without permission from the authorities. Just imagine when Jesus begins to concentrate on large groups of people. The concern of the Romans shows that the movement was having some impact.
César Cevera: Judas is a bad guy in this story, and yet, his betrayal of Jesus seems more theatrical than effective. It is said that he was the treasurer of the group and had previously stolen money, but not much more about him is known prior to the betrayal.
AP: Judas is probably a mythical figure. There was a traitor in the group, but his identity has undergone some curious photoshopping. The proof is that the death of Judas is painted in a contradictory manner in the Gospels: Matthew says he hung himself and Luke writes that he threw himself off a cliff. Studying the Old Testament, the account of Matthew is almost copied from the history of the royal counselor Ahithophel, who betrayed King David and then hanged himself. Meanwhile, Luke, who is possibly a Greek convert to Judaism, describes in Judas' death the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the great persecutor of the Jews who wanted to eliminate the Jewish religion in the second century BC. However, there is no sufficient grounds to deny the historicity of Judas.
César Cevera: The suicide of Judas Iscariot is today interpreted as an act of cowardice, but has anyone ever reminded you that in ancient literature suicide was considered a form of purification? Should he be considered a redeemed person according to the biblical account?
AP: You're referring to what is called the "noble death" in classical culture, but we should remember that the authors of the Gospels are Jewish. They do not accept Hellenistic doctrine. For Jews, the one who commits suicide is judged, while for the Greeks it was a way to recognize one's error and set himself free by paying for it with his life. In ancient times, there are 127 cases of suicide mentioned in Greek and Roman literature, and virtually all of them are noble deaths.