Did Judas exist?

Perhaps not. New Testament scholars are aware that none of the gospels could have been written by an eyewitness to the events portrayed. The earliest written account of Jesus is in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, which says that the risen Jesus appeared to the twelve (1 Cor 15:3-8), which can only mean that for Paul the traitor did not come from the twelve disciples.

John Shelby Spong (Jesus for the NonReligious) says that the name Judas is a variant of Judah, implying Jewish guilt, and that the name Iscariot seems to be based on 'sicarii', suggesting Judas was a traitor. In Spong's view, Judas Iscariot is probably a literary creation.