A biography of one of the most reviled men in history, a perpetual scapegoat representing the deepest root of anti-Semitism and, in medieval times, usury.
Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph senior features writer Stanford (Catholicism: A Complete Introduction, 2015, etc.) sees Judas at the heart of the embattled early church. The Pauline believers thought Christianity was a new religion altogether, led by St. Paul’s writings. Then there were those who felt this doctrine was a new part of the Jewish religion. The latter was reawakened with the 2006 National Geographic film revealing the Gospel of Judas. This gospel was written in Greek at the end of the second century long after the synoptic and more historically reliable Gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John. Judas’ gospel was written about Jesus as seen by him in the last three days of his life, adding nothing to detail or defend Judas’ life. While the author does not give many details of the gospel, Jesus comes across as more human than divine. He is short-tempered and generally disagreeable, and he mocks his inner circle and dismisses the Eucharist. In the late fourth century, Pauline orthodoxy really began to grow, and the beliefs and texts of the Gnostics and Judas were dismissed and destroyed. The author argues that the Gospels should be taken seriously, but not literally, accepting Judas as a true figure rather than a manufactured scapegoat. He sees the Judas of the four Gospels as too inconsistent, too human, and too unpredictable to be a mere device. There are still those who wonder whether Judas was doomed or damned. Was he truly a money-grabbing traitor, or was he part of the entire divine plan?
A straightforward biography that thankfully avoids preaching. Readers curious about Judas’ broad effect on world history will welcome this book.