THEUDAS (thū'das, Gr. Theudas). Josephus (Antiq. 20.5.1) mentions a Theudas who led a considerable revolt in a.d. 44 or 45. This cannot have been the Theudas of Gamaliel’s speech, which was made some ten years earlier. To suggest that Luke used Josephus, and confused Theudas and Judas (
In his speech to the Sanhedrin about policy to be adopted toward the Christian movement, Gamaliel refers to Theudas who made an unsuccessful attempt at rebellion (Acts 5:36). He is said to have antedated who also failed in his uprising, made at the time of the census, which was in a.d. 6. Josephus refers to someone of that name who was a magician who promised to lead his followers through Jordan dry- shod. He was killed by the troops of the procurator Fadus (c. a.d. 46-48). It has often been argued that Luke has misread Josephus. This is most unlikely in view of Luke's known accuracy in other places, and it is much more probable that there were two men of this name who lived at different times and were both engaged in some sort of public disorder.
THEUDAS thōō’ dəs (Θευδα̂ς, G2554, a contraction of Θεόδωρος, gift of God or some such name). Leader of a rebellion that failed (
Josephus (Antiq. XX. 5. 1) tells of Theudas, a magician around a.d. 44 who led a great band of adherents to the Jordan, promising to divide it for an easy passage of the river, but was caught and beheaded by the soldiers of the procurator Fadus. This cannot have been the same Theudas as the insurgent of Gamaliel’s speech (a.d. 30 or 31) who is said to have arisen before the insurrection led by Judas the Galilaean in the days of the taxing under Quirinius about a.d. 6. This and other differences separate Luke’s account and that of Josephus (see the full discussion in Zahn, Introduction to the , III, 132, 133). It is not necessary to impugn Luke’s historical accuracy here by assuming that he transposed Theudas and Judas, or that he misplaced Gamaliel’s speech by moving it from
E. Schürer, A. History of the Jewish People in the Time of, I, ii (1891), 168, 169; W. M. Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? (1898), 258, 259; J. W. Swain, “Gamaliel’s Speech and Caligula’s Statue,” HTR, 37 (1944), 341-349; R. B. Rackham, The , 14th ed. (1951), 74.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Theudas is referred to by Gamaliel in his speech before the Sanhedrin, when he advised them as to the position they should adopt in regard to the apostles (
(1) that as there were many insurrections during the period in question, the two writers refer to different Theudases;
(2) that the reference to Theudas in the narrative of Ac was inserted by a later reviser, whose historical knowledge was inaccurate (Weiss; compare also Knowling, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, II, 157-59).