Were you aware that "Judas Iscariot" translates roughly to "Jude Assassin"? Can you imagine the loving parents looking down at their newborn son and saying, "He shall be called Jude Assassin!" There's a small clue right there as to the provenance of the fictional character, "Judas".<quoted text>
Yup, sounds about right. The guy took one for the team, then got run over by the revisionist bus. So what's the rest of the story? Who was driving the bus, and why did he make road-kill out of Judas?
To get in the picture, it always helps to cast yourself back to the years immediately following Jesus' death. We know today that there was not one "interpretation" of Jesus' mission and intent, but a whole host of them, often at odds with each other in the particulars. Sects sprang up just as naturally as they still do today. Each had their own view of Jesus, oftentimes outlined in what we now call the "apocryphal gospels". The so-called "orthodoxy" we have today was nowhere near the accepted orthodoxy of the time - that took a couple of centuries of hard work and not a few "councils" to decide - through human debate, mind you - who was In and, more importantly, to identify and weed out the "heretics".
And one of the earliest, and most influential, "heresies" (keeping in mind that's a relative term) were those whom Paul called the "Judaizers". Paul's most recurrent and vicious commentary went toward these who saw Jesus as very much a practicing and devout Jew. Those he called "mutilators of the flesh", they included those who actually walked and talked with Jesus himself, as Paul reveals when he is so critical of the "so-called pillars of the church" (Gal.2), those he jealously and sarcastically calls "super-apostles" (2 Cor 11, 12).
So, it was a sectarian dogfight, and the Pauline faction won out, due to their tireless missionary work and a solid grasp of the importance of writing for posterity, but helped along no doubt by the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of Jesus' few remaining Judean disciples.
There is no question that Paul's version was a more universal, or catholic (small "c") tradition, and was more readily acceptable to a wider audience than a Judaic Christianity would have been. But I truly believe that, in the propaganda struggle for dominance, some awful harsh words got printed about Jews in general, and later canonized, that were to have tragic consequences, surely unintended by the author, for untold millions of Jews down through the centuries.
"His blood be on us and on our children!" By God, there's a prophecy if ever there was one.