© Erich Lessing

Suicide as repentance. According to Matthew 27:3–5, Judas repented his betrayal of Jesus and hanged himself, the only explicit case of suicide in the New Testament. Depicted in this sixth-century alabaster relief—on a pillar of the altar canopy at the Cathedral of San Marco, in Venice, Italy—Judas’s suicide draws no condemnation in the Gospel account. This treatment of the event is consistent with the morality of the time, which regarded repentance and the need for atonement as justification for suicide. Later Christian theologians, however, saw Judas’s suicide as a greater sin than his betrayal.