There are some odd accounts in the New Testament — among them that of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas on the Mount of Olives.
Here is one image:
We see the title in Greek at the top: Ἡ ΠΡΟΔΟCΙΑ/HE PRODOSIA
Notice that the Π is linked to the Ρ.
He Prodosia means “The Betrayal.”
Now in the account found in the gospel called “of John,” we find these Greek words used:
χιλίαρχος/khiliarkhos: a khiliarkhos is a Roman military officer commanding one thousand men.
σπειρα/speira: a speira is commonly a Roman cohort consisting of 600 to 1,000 men.
We read in John 18:12 of what is said to have happened on the Mount of Olives on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested:
Ἡ οὖν σπεῖρα καὶ ὁ χιλίαρχος καὶ οἱ ὑπηρέται τῶν Ἰουδαίων συνέλαβον τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἔδησαν αὐτὸν.
“Then the speira and the khiliarkhos and the subordinates/officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound him.”
A speira under a khiliarkhos? That means the “band” of soldiers arresting Jesus was not just fifteen or twenty or thirty or forty men; according to this account, they must have been at least 600 to a thousand — just to arrest one person.
That is not the end of the strangeness. There is the matter of the violence on the side of the disciples Mark tells us vaguely (14:47):
“And one of the bystanders drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.”
Luke is similarly vague as to who it was: (Luke 22:50):
“And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.”
Matthew is not much clearer (26:51):
“And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.”
John, however, gives a surprising name (18:10):
“Then Simon Peter drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.”
Why does Peter even have a sword, if the disciples of Jesus are just a peaceful band? And further, why do we find this mysterious exchange between Jesus and his disciples, just before going out to the Mount of Olives, in Luke (22:35-38):
“And he said to them, When I sent you without purse, and money, and shoes, did you lack anything? And they said, Nothing. Then he said to them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise his money: and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, look, here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.”
Why do the disciples of Jesus need swords? Is Jesus trying to make himself look like a rebel against Rome, and so be arrested as a criminal? Or is there perhaps some connection here between the accounts of Jesus and Jewish rebellion against Rome that we do not understand?
And why, when we find the disciples of Jesus named in Luke (6:14-16) do we find what most scholars consider to be a zealot among them — a zealot in the political sense, meaning a rebel against Rome — or is he, as some suggest, merely “zealous” in the religious sense?
“Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.”
And is Judas Iscariot really to be understood as Judas Sicariot — Judas the “dagger man,” one of the terrorist assassins known as Sicarii, rather than being simply ish Keriot — “man of [the village of] Keriot?
And why do so many of the things that happen in the Gospels seem chronologically out of place when compared to what is known from secular sources of historical figures and events?
For what it is worth (and what it is worth is still not quite clear), there is an interesting study of the matter by Lena Einhorn, who has written two books on the topic:
The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul (Lyons Press, 2007)
A Shift in Time: How Historical Documents Reveal the Surprising Truth About Jesus (Yucca Publishing, 2016)
Einhorn herself admits her conclusions are an unproven hypothesis, but her books are nonetheless interesting for her examination of the apparent historical peculiarities in the chronology in the New Testament.
Iconographically, it is interesting that the image at the top of this posting shows Peter cutting off the ear of a boy servant —
— while other images — including the Western rendering here by Duccio di Buoninsegna — depict the servant as an adult male (at the far left of the image):