Sunday, November 27, 2011


I think that line is from Shakespeare, but I cannot remember which play. Anyway, just a quick thought this time.

In good scholarship, you are supposed to consider all sides of an issue, the evidence pro and con, etc. At a witch trial, everything is slanted in one direction. Of course, the defendant will proclaim his or her innocence, even though he or she will be railroaded. But what would we say about a trial or investigation or study where that recourse is not allowed, it is ruled entirely out of order? Innocence is simply not an option and any defendant who tries to raise it will be silenced before they can speak. That would be a pretty extreme witch trial. Yet that is exactly the situation of Judas and Jewish leaders in historical Jesus studies.

When scholars talk about Judas, only two possibilities are allowed: either he is a real traitor or a fictional traitor, but he has to be a traitor. You will not find any scholars (well, maybe one or two besides myself) who ask that we consider that Judas may have been an innocent man falsely accused of betrayal. It is safe to say that better than 98% of scholars will not even look at this. They will not ask whether the evidence supports a hypothesis of innocence. They ridicule or silence anyone who might dare to raise it.

It reminds me of something Ursula Hegi has said: If I am to be true to my vision of truth seeking, I run the risk of not belonging to any community.

Leon Zitzer

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