Judas: The Most Hated Name in History by Peter Stanford

By Peter Stanford

During this attention-grabbing ancient and cultural biography, Peter Stanford deconstructs that the majority vilified of Bible characters: Judas Iscariot, who famously betrayed Jesus with a kiss. starting with the gospel debts, Stanford explores thousand years of cultural and theological historical past to enquire how the very identify Judas got here to be synonymous with betrayal and, finally, human evil. yet because the writer issues out, there has lengthy been a counter-current of proposal that means that Judas may well in truth were sufferer of a negative injustice: imperative to Jesus' project used to be his dying and resurrection, and for there to were a loss of life, there needed to be a betrayal. This thankless position fell to Judas; should still we in reality be thankful to him for his function within the divine drama of salvation? "You'll need to decide," as Bob Dylan sang within the sixties, "Whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side." a necessary yet doomed personality within the ardour narrative, and hence the total tale of Christianity, Judas and the betrayal he symbolizes proceed to play out in a lot higher cultural histories, talking as he does to our private fears approximately friendship, betrayal, and the matter of evil. Judas: the last word traitor, or the last word scapegoat? it is a compelling portrait of Christianity's such a lot troubling and mysterious personality.

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In first-century CE Israel, it would have been about as commonplace as John, Ben or Sam are today. Quite how Judas Iscariot has changed that state of affairs can be judged by the Standesamt, or German registry of births, marriages and deaths, which provides a ‘Manual of First Names’ containing all those a parent can freely choose for their child. Those wanting to go off piste must apply for special approval. Among those to be avoided, the Standesamt counsels, are product names – so no babies called ‘Porsche’ – and those with ‘evil’ connotations.

While Mark, Matthew and Luke, collectively the synoptics, have a substantial degree of overlap, John is distinctive in detail, in tone, and in its presentation of Jesus. And it provides the most detailed and arguably the most influential portrait of Judas. So, with all these caveats, let’s start with the four official accounts. If they cannot be taken literally, they must still be taken seriously in what they report of Judas Iscariot. 1 D Day of Rest In the tenth-century Voyage of Saint Brendan, an account of the Celtic monk sailing out towards the Isles of the Blessed in search of heaven, he comes upon Judas, perched on a rock, enjoying his Day of Rest.

And, as human beings, we are prone to want to attribute guilt and it is usually simpler to lay the blame wholly on an individual rather than balance their guilt with the many factors that lie behind any crime. Black-and-white answers trump shades of grey every time. It is back to scapegoating. Mark chimes more easily with our instincts, while Paul’s approach challenges them. And by encouraging scapegoating, Mark paves the way for 2,000 years of it in relation to Judas. indd 41 23/01/2015 15:06:54 J U DAS depart from Paul and shift the blame onto Judas.

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