Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Holy Week 2019: Heaven on their minds
Judas is almost certainly a completely fictional character. Dom Crossan notes the name "Judas" is not attributed anywhere else in the literature, and is likely meant to be a designation echoing "Judea," from which we get our English word "Jews." He is a character of endless fascination in Christianity and the cultures touched by Christianity. In the gospels he is the explanation for everything that went wrong; surely someone was responsible! Writing an account that could be legibly traced to the Romans (who alone had the power of crucifixion, and reserved it for political prisoners, for those who most directly threatened the Pax Romana from inside) was the short path to suicide. Blaming your antagonists, the people of Judea who rejected your claims for Jesus of Nazareth, was the safer path. But Jesus of Nazareth had almost nothing to do with the ruling class (who among us does, except to run afoul of them?), and how could they identify him? Enter a figure, a scapegoat, someone to blame: Judas.
So Judas is the central, fascinating figure in our imaginations. Judas is a disciple, but a betrayer; drawn to, and repulsed by, the person he most admires but thinks is most misguided. It's the story of Brutus and Julius (via Shakespeare), of Jack Burden and Willie Stark, of every politician who has risen to power and the people afraid of what that politician has, or will, become.
It is the story of our divided hearts; of how we are afraid of those we love most dearly, how we can't ever reconcile our desires with our needs, our hopes with our realities.
It is a very human story, indeed.
Posted by Rmj at 1:30 PM