Without Judas, History Might Have Hijacked Another Villain
But in the publication last week of what is described as an ancient text called the Gospel of Judas, Judas is portrayed not as the treacherous apostle but rather as a hero of the Easter story who helps fulfill salvation history by betraying his beloved Jesus at the messiah's own bidding.
A feast for theological debate, surely, but after centuries of Christian rancor and persecution directed at Jews, much of it magnified through the lens of a caricatured Judas, a question of history arises, too. Would the terrible legacy of anti-Semitism have been different had a text like the Gospel of Judas been in the Christian canon from the start? If, in effect, the "bad Judas" were not in the picture?
Jewish and Christian scholars agree that the dynamic of early Christianity — a Jewish sect that failed to win over its own people — almost guaranteed a divorce with all the bitterness of a family feud. At first, Jewish authorities had the upper hand. But very quickly, as the Romans waged war against the Jews and as Christianity drew huge numbers of converts from the Gentile world, the tables turned, and Christians became the dominant camp. Even as a powerful force, however, Christian believers often adopted the victim's posture and took every opportunity to batter the increasingly beleaguered Jews.
In this campaign, Judas Iscariot became the perfect foil.
comments powered by Disqus
- Joan Baez, Sly Stone, Steve Martin, Ben E. King -- all honored by the Library of Congress
- StoryCorps to Launch Global Expansion With $1M TED Prize
- Hofstra Event Looks at Bush Presidency
- Did Israel steal uranium from a town in Pennsylvania in the 1960s?
- Sequel to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom to be published next year
- OAH denounces anti-gay legislation signed by Indiana governor
- Emory’s Leslie Harris says we should remember the racist roots of American colleges as we think about what went wrong at OU and other schools
- Stanford historian looks to the U.S. Postal Service to map the boom and bust of 19th-century American West
- U.S. historian denounces Japanese scholars' statement over wartime sexual slavery
- Timothy V Johnson Named Head of Tamiment Library