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Could we be wrong about Judas?

Could we be wrong about Judas?

In the spirit of Christian forgiveness, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, is taking a new look at the way in which the tradition speaks of Judas Iscariot, notorious for the betrayal of Jesus to the arresting authorities for a bag of silver.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the bishop’s remarks come in a Radio Times introduction to a BBC documentary, “In the Footsteps of Judas,” to be broadcast early on Good Friday. The Revd Kate Bottley will examine theories about Judas’ betrayal, and his motivation.

“This is not to say ‘Oh Judas, he’s all right really’, what we are saying is perhaps there is something else to this character than that kiss and that betrayal,” she said. …

She added: “Up until that moment of betrayal, Judas seems no better or worse than any of the other disciples.

“But he has been defined by the worst thing he did.

“What Judas did is not OK but I think he holds up a very important mirror to our own human condition.

“Jesus forgave people as they were putting the nails in to his hands and there is no reason why he would not have forgiven Judas but he just didn’t hear that.”

Bishop Baines admits to feeling a little sorry for Judas and the way that he has gone down in history, wondering “what his mother thought.”

“I guess it’s up to the observer to decide what was really going on with Judas – whether he is a traitor or a scapegoat.

“Whatever conclusion you draw, he’s had a lousy press. Just call someone by his name.”

Read the article here. What do you think? Is it time to reexamine the legacy of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot?

Photo: Toruń, church of St. James, Passion painting, dating from ca. 1480-90, by Pko via wikicommons


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Shirley O'Shea

I’m not suggesting revisionism is appropriate; merely that the biblical account, although very meager in details, suggests someone who was tormented over his actions, as any suicide indicates. Judas was human and I have always found him pitiable, yet I have to be honest with myself about my own capacity to attack, whether passively or actively, the Lord Jesus. How can I ever be sure that I would not have done the same thing, or the equivalent?

Paul Woodrum

Others think Judas is a metaphor for Judah/Israel, a people who refused to recognize and ultimately betrayed their own Messiah. Today this tends to sound anti-Semitic and very un-PC, but at the time the Gospel’s were written, it was the Jews, not the Roman’s, who were persecuting the heretical little Jewish sect that came to be called Christians.

Jerald Liko

I wonder if this is a feature of our modern culture, the interest/desire to revisit villains in an attempt to find out what makes them tick, and whether, if viewed in some other light, they might not simply be misunderstood (e.g., Judas knew JC was the coming King and tried to force events before their time).

It might make a more interesting story that way, but I would submit that in real life, we’ve all know folks who were (1) created in the image of God, (2) entitled to the decency and dignity required by the Imago Dei, and yet (3) still total jerks.

I’m comfortable leaving Judas in the total-jerk category. But to each his own.

JoS. S. Laughon

Everything must have a gritty reboot. So too in the future every villain will get his 15 minutes of attempted rehabilitation.

JC Fisher

Judas Revisionism has been a feature (even an industry!) of Christianity (broadly conceived) since the very beginning. Yang to Jesus’s Yin, if you will. It’s inevitable (as is backlash to the revisionism).

William (Bill) Paul

Judas beat the church father’s to the ontological punch? Hmmmm. It’s really amazing that against the only historical evidence we have (and it is historical evidence, however we weight it, not just fictional emplotment), Judas becomes heroic and uniquely illumined! There are important theological questions here, but we may recall how K Barth was criticized, for all of his patient attention to the Scriptures, for resolving the issue of Judas instead of letting it stand forth as it does in the New Testament as a live warning meant to chasten us and keep us vigilant lest we head into a darkness and despair from which we can’t escape by ourselves. (And these question BTW are hardly new. Not new in 2oth century when Jesus Christ Superstar made popular the Judas-as-well-intentioned (aren’t-we-all?)-and-cool-instrument-of-God who was raised in the end.

Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

I have always thought that Judas understood Jesus better than any of the other disciples. He probably had a deeper understanding of Jesus as Incarnation of God than the others. This well maybe the reason he was the one who betrayed him. I actually believe that Judas felt the Jesus would not be crucified but would usher in the Kingdom of God and overthrow the Romans. While he understood the Nature of Jesus, he did not understand the mission of Jesus.

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