THE KNIFEMAN by William Rayner


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What was reverent and discreet in this British author's last interpretation of the mission and death of Jesus (The Last Days--1968) is, in this tale of a highly original Judas, merely outrageous. Raynor has unfortunately chosen a modern Bogey idiom to tell the story of how Judas, induced by Jesus to betray him to fulfill the Divine destiny, is hired by the Roman authorities first to ""infiltrate"" the Nazarenes and then after the ""Resurrection,"" to find and help in disposing of Jesus. In disguise Judas mingles with his former companions, while repelled by the leaderless, sanctimonious strictures of the group, which alienate his lovely mistress Ruth from his sexual advances even after marriage. To his astonishment Jesus does appear in the flesh, but as a bewildered and passive shadow of what he once was, waiting for the Divine help he expected. Confused but fully believing in Jesus' resurrection, Judas visits the orgy of a gnostic sect, hoping to find the answer of life after death. However, at last he learns the truth--Jesus was indeed saved by drugging, and his more politically minded followers intend to kill him for safety's sake. Again Judas commits murder ""for Jesus,"" and is himself killed by Zealots. Twentieth century patois cannot possibly contain Judas' earlier spiritual affirmations and later gnostic ventures. Another shortcut in research, characterization and religious statement, in the popular game of Passover Plot.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1969
Publisher: Morrow