Sunday, April 25, 2010


My opening litany again: Sarah Vowell Jesus blog Francine Prose Rachel Donadio Laura Miller. Unless and until people outside the field of New Testament scholarship take a strong and corrective interest in this, nothing will ever change.

How would you feel -- I mean really, honestly -- if someone in your family or a dear friend were convicted of a terrible crime on the kind of evidence we have for Judas as a traitor? You should answer the question for yourself. But I would venture that most people would be horrified and would move heaven and earth to undo this injustice. So why do we do it to Judas? Because he has no friends or family around today (that we know of)? Because it's good to kick someone up and down the block if they cannot protest? The dead rarely have someone to protect them. The long dead? Forget about it.

There are some negative comments about Judas (actually, very little), but negative comments do not a case make. They could be the result of slander, a desire to blacken his reputation. What is needed is some evidence specific to proving a betrayal -- and that is conspicuously absent. We have no clearly stated motive, no conflicts between Judas and Jesus or his fellow disciples, and no one denouncing him after the deed is done.

That last missing piece is really startling, if Judas was supposedly a traitor. You would think some outrage would have been expressed. Instead, we get silence. Even the Greek word that means betray is avoided by all the Gospels. They use a neutral word rather than betray (it is used many times in the New Testament and mistranslated as betray only for Judas).

A few negative accusations -- like, he stole from the poor and the devil entered him -- are not evidence at all for a betrayal. They are irrelevant and useless. It is shocking beyond belief that so many scholars in the 21st century consider this to be part of the case against Judas. If anyone tells me that they would be perfectly happy if they had a grandfather who was convicted of murder on the basis of evidence like this, I will call that person a liar.

Leon Zitzer

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?