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Iscariot: A Novel of Judas Hardcover – February 5, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books; 1 edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451683766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451683769
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (272 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In her afterword, author Lee reveals she threw out much of her extensive research when the details got in the way of her story’s heart. In essence, this is a tale about love, human love for the divine, but the reverse as well, with both Judas and Jesus spiritually longing for one another. Before Judas comes to follow Jesus, however, he must struggle with a life that leaves him feeling perpetually unclean. Shockingly, he has seen his father crucified and his mother sell herself to keep him alive. Always, there is a hole inside him, and it grows larger with the death of his beloved wife. A baptism by John startles him into a new life, but it is as a disciple of Jesus that he feels the change he’s longed for—for himself and his country—is finally within his grasp. Judas’ first-person narrative brings him into sharp relief, and in addition, Lee gives readers a fully realized portrayal of Jesus, a messiah, at times as perplexed about his role and his mission as the apostles. A worthy new take on an old story. --Ilene Cooper


"The research and writing is impeccable and masterful." (Publisher's Weekly)

"Intelligently imagined." (Kirkus Reviews)

"This brilliant, sympathetic reinterpretation of Judas will force readers to reexamine the man they thought they knew." (Library Journal)

“Tosca Lee continues to mature and deepen as a master story-teller. Iscariot is the best example of this to date. I can hardly wait for what is coming!” (William P. Young, New York Times bestselling author of The Shack)

“Written in a voice that is original, animated, and refreshing, Tosca Lee has forged a poignant tale of Judas, a character we only thought we knew. History and emotion entangle into an entertaining nugget, each page like a tasty treat.” (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The King’s Deception)

“Tosca Lee’s take on the most notorious figure in history is at once highly imaginative and deeply moving. Weaving historical detail, human drama and spiritual insight, Iscariot will hold you all the way to its shattering conclusion.” (James Scott Bell, bestselling author of One More Lie)

“A startlingly dark and breathtaking novel. Iscariot is both visionary in scope and historically accurate down to the most minute detail—which is an astonishing feat. This is epic, masterful storytelling from one of the most gifted novelists writing today.” (Steven James, bestselling author of Placebo)

Iscariot is one of those rare novels that makes you go deep and come out both crying and cheering at once. If you think you know Jesus or Judas, think again. Through meticulous detail and powerful prose, Tosca Lee brings the world a story that will reshape the hearts and minds of many. An absolute must-read.” (Ted Dekker, New York Times bestselling author)

"How Jesus’ suffering and ministry could disappoint or perplex is at the heart of Iscariot. It is entertaining fiction rooted in the story of Judas and Jesus. It will cause you to reflect and rethink what you know. It is well -done, solid fiction.” (Darrell L. Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary)

“To call the writing excellent is a severe understatement—phenomenal might come close, but even that is not quite strong enough. . . . It’s complex, inventive, beautiful, heart-wrenching, and a multitude of other positive adjectives all which speak of a well-written, inspiring novel.” (The Christian Manifesto)

“Tosca Lee’s brilliant storytelling is addictive. Iscariot brings a thrilling new perspective to Judas and the most infamous act of betrayal in history. The question, ‘What would you have done?’ haunts, convicts and challenges us throughout this masterful tale.” (Ken Coleman, talk radio host of The Ken Coleman Show and author of One Question)

Iscariot is at turns heart wrenching and triumphant. Weaving painstaking research and beautiful prose, Tosca Lee tells a story that will make you question everything you thought you knew about the man who betrayed Jesus with a kiss—and about yourself.” (Nicole Baart, author of Far From Here and Sleeping in Eden)

“Tosca Lee refuses to let biblical stories turn into stale tales without any current meaning. As she did so brilliantly with Demon and Havah, she brings familiar characters to life in wholly new ways. In Iscariot, we identify all too easily with Judas’ struggles, hopes, and frustrations. Rich in research and powerful in the telling, I couldn’t read this book and simply point the finger without first coming to grips with the human frailties in my own heart and mind.” (Eric Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fireproof)

“A work that devours you with its first words. Lee’s skills as a researcher and wordsmith have illuminated Judas in a light never seen before. Gone is the simple one-dimensional character who acts as a foil in the crucifixion narrative. In Iscariot we have an extraordinary man whose dreams, hopes, and fears drive him to the precipice of his life. Brilliant writing.” (Dr. Joe Cathey, professor of Old Testament at Dallas Baptist University)

Iscariot is a ride through history and the nature of betrayal and friendship. Surprising characterization, a rich tapestry of setting, and a compelling plot make this an insightful read. Once again, Tosca Lee’s storytelling and intelligence shines through her fiction.” (Mary DeMuth, author of The Muir House)

“Reading Lee’s Iscariot is like seeing the unknowns in the New Testament filled with ‘what might have been.’ The familiar gains new significance as seen through the eyes of the disciples, especially that one whose motives still baffle two thousand years later. Iscariot is rich and wonderfully told, with a haunting message that resonates: What would I have done?” (Tracy L. Higley, author of Garden of Madness)

“Tosca Lee’s Iscariot gives you the most plausibly motivated Judas you’ll ever see in a novel. This is not a slavering, caricatured, eager-to-be-evil Judas that you can kick in the face as you walk by. This Judas could have been you, or me.” (Randy Ingermanson, Christy Award Winning author of Transgression)

“Few writers are able to fully engage the imagination on such a visceral level. Fewer still can take on a character laden with heavy preconceived notions and fully change the reader's mind. Tosca Lee stands head and shoulders above crowds of writers and, with a deft hand and a passionate spirit, grants us a beautiful glimpse into an age old story in a completely new way. Don’t miss this book. This journey will peel away the layers of all you know and leave you open, longing, and overwhelmed with God’s incredible love for us.” (Lori Twitchell, FictionAddict)

“Tosca Lee is a magnificent storyteller. She has the heart of a poet, the mind of the scholar, and the imagination of a novelist. The three have melded here in harmony to produce a thought-provoking, comfort-disrupting, and heart-rattling tale of history’s most famous betrayer. But beyond that, Iscariot also forces readers to look at Jesus in a new light and consider whether or not they have truly understood the message of the kingdom. Iscariot is one of those books that will not soon, if ever, leave your mind.” (Josh Olds, Life is Story)

“Have you ever been lucky enough to snag a backstage pass, that special ticket that grants you an exclusive peek into the life of a famous person. This book is your backstage pass to one of the most reviled figures in the history of Christianity. Most Christians have been taught that Judas = evil. We’ve branded his name. In her compelling page-turner Iscariot, Tosca Lee asks “what if?” What if Judas was actually a little more like you and me? What if his story was not as black and white as we’ve been told? What if, like us, family history, youthful idealism and unintended consequences conspired to make him appear to be something he wasn’t? What if you could see yourself in Judas?” (Jim Henderson, author Jim and Casper Go to Church and The Resignation of Eve)

“In Iscariot, New York Times bestselling novelist, Tosca Lee, takes readers into the heart and mind of Judas, the man whose very name is synonymous with traitor. What led this man to betray Jesus? Seen in the light of his expectations and the culture of his day, Judas’s motives take on new clarity. What did Jesus look like to a man who desperately sought a messiah? The answer might surprise you. Edgy, inspirational, this story is stark in its honesty. One cannot look into the heart of a traitor without coming away praying that we will learn from his choices.” (Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author the Wives of King David series)

“What kind of man would do what Judas Iscariot did? Tosca Lee takes us straight into the scarred heart and haunted soul of the infamous betrayer, giving him a literary voice that echoes with the horrible weight of his solitary decision. Utterly compelling.” (Susan Meissner, award-winning author of The Shape of Mercy)

“This book is intended for anyone who has asked themselves the question, ‘Why did Judas do it? How could he have been so close to the Savior for so long, and then turn against him?’ Tosca Lee’s novel is both insightful and extremely well crafted. The historical details bring the time of Jesus to life in a remarkable fashion.” (Davis Bunn, bestselling author of Hidden in Dreams)

“Tosca Lee’s Iscariot is a beautiful example of what literary excellence should be. With perfect prose, the story sweeps us back into the days of walking with Jesus, and changes the reader by the end of the book. This is one book that shouldn’t be missed!” (Robin Caroll, author of the Justice Seekers series)

“It’s a rare author that I will read everything they write. Tosca Lee is one of them. With Iscariot she has cemented my view that there are few better novelists currently among us. Iscariot will rocket you into the vastness of who Jesus us. His compassion, his fierceness, his love—all through the eyes of a man few have seen through before. Brilliant. Poignant. Heart-wrenching. Read it now.” (James L. Rubart, bestselling author of Soul’s Gate)

“No one gets inside the heads and minds of historical figures as intimately and convincingly as Tosca Lee does. In Iscariot, she tackles her most challenging enigma: Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus. Through brilliant writing, deep research, and sincere compassion, she spins a tale of twisting emotions, conflicting loyalties, and heart aching humanity. This mesmerizing story will have you rethinking the Biblical account you thought you knew—and your own attitudes about what it means to love, truly love. In a word, Iscariot is unforgettable!” (Robert Liparulo, author of The 13th Tribe, The Judgment Stone, and Comes a Horseman)

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Customer Reviews

In telling the story of Judas, Lee also tells the story of Jesus and his disciples.
While this was a good book to read, there were times when it seemed very long and drawn out, and that really made it feel kinda sludgy.
Kristin Plausky
I appreciate Tosca Lee's incredible research on this to provide historical accuracy.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Melissa VINE VOICE on February 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Judas Iscariot of Kerioth is one of the most reviled men of all times--hated for his betrayal and cursed in death. But what if we aren't so different from him? Given his background, his hopes, aspirations, disappointments, grief, and internal suffering would we have done the same thing? Tosca Lee asks this question in her latest novel, Iscariot.

Judas became acquainted with grief at an early age. His father died during the rebellion of Judas bar Hezekiah while his brother was taken captive never to be seen again. He and his mother barely survived, but years afterwards the guilt, shame, and horror never left him. Attempting to overcome his past, Judas immersed himself in the law, zealously trying to follow ever tiny rule and regulation. He pursued purity and cultivated a desperate love for the law, while never losing hope and always looking forward to the Messiah. But one day he met Jesus and his life took an unexpected turn. Could Jesus be the Messiah? His miracles said yes, but his actions seemed to contradict everything Judas believed the Messiah to be. Regardless of his unusual teachings, Judas left his beloved Jerusalem, his dreams of being a teacher, and followed Jesus, hoping the Messiah had finally arrived. In a captivating story of hope, grief, love, and betrayal, Tosca Lee transports the reader to ancient Jerusalem for a first person glimpse into the wretched life of Judas Iscariot so tightly intertwined with the love of Jesus.

I have waited a very long time to read this book. As is typical for me, I went into this story knowing only that it was going to be based on the life of Judas. So I was a little surprised when I discovered Lee's plan was to make Judas a sympathetic character.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By VicG on February 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Tosca Lee in her new book, "Iscariot" published by Howard Books gives us a A Novel of Judas.

From the back cover: The story you thought you knew.

"They will say that I betrayed Him, that I reduced His price to thirty silver shekels. That I turned against my master. They do not know me."

Judas Iscariot. History has called him many things: Thief. Liar. Traitor. Reviled throughout history and infamous for his suicide, he is the man whose very name is synonymous with betrayal.

And the only disciple that Jesus called "friend".

From the acclaimed bestselling author of Havah: The Story of Eve, "Iscariot" is a compelling portrait of Biblical history's most maligned character-from his tumultuous childhood to his emergence as the man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is an extraordinary view into the life of Jesus that forces us to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous--and infamous--religious icons in history.

Told in first person narration "Iscariot" takes us from when Judas was six years old all the way to when he commits suicide after betraying Jesus to the Pharisees. I was fascinated with the idea that Ms. Lee had written a whole book about the betrayer of Jesus and could not even imagine what she could find to write about that would even interest us. Now I know. Ms. Lee has presented an extremely thoughtful story that shows why Jesus picked this man to be one of the original twelve disciples. Not only that he was also the treasurer for the group. He was valued and trusted not only by Jesus but by the other eleven as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Padgett on February 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This story is told from the perspective of Judas Iscariot himself. The things that happened to him in his life in this story are quite believable. In light of those things, wouldn't any of us have maybe reacted in the same way as he did? I really loved this story. I had never thought about Judas Iscariot except as a betrayer of Jesus. But he was as human as any of us. I am a big fan of Tosca Lee, and I think she outdid herself with this one. Five star plus. Will definitely recommend this one to any and all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By KelseyK on February 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Best-Selling author Tosca Lee continues in her tales of the villainous, this time taking on the most notorious betrayer in history - Judas Iscariot.

From the first page, Lee has you second guessing what you know about the true story of Judas, a man who turned over his Messiah for 30 pieces of silver - but what led to this moment? What were the steps Judas took in order to turn from beloved follower to dubious betrayer?

I thoroughly enjoyed Tosca's world building as she took us deep into the heart of Ancient Israel. So many things made sense when seeing them through the cultures eyes, such as the story of the rebel Bar-Abbas, who was released instead of Jesus at the people's request; the parables, made clear to us today, casting anxiety on those who clung to tradition; and finally, the man Jesus himself, and how he might have been seen by someone who didn't truly believe.

While I did appreciate Ms. Lee's telling of this tale, I can't say I loved it. I'm not a prosy person, and while Tosca is insanely awesome at spinning words beautifully, a lot of it becomes too much for me. Also, there were a few things that didn't quite set right with what I know Biblically - just slightly off. To be fair, this IS a fiction retelling, so the disciples could have had elephant trunks if Ms. Lee wanted them to, and she DID say she wanted to get to the heart of the story.

In the end, Tosca Lee changed my long standing opinion on the man who gave betrayers their name. Judas was human, and he didn't set out to be the villain. After all, who are we to stay we wouldn't have done the same?
We don't know. We weren't there.

I definitely would say "Read This Book" to any and all.
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More About the Author

"Superior storytelling."
--Publishers Weekly

"One of the most gifted novelists writing today."
--Steven James, best-selling author

"Her imagery filled me with awe."
--Novel Reviews

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of ISCARIOT; DEMON: A MEMOIR; HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE; and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (FORBIDDEN, MORTAL and SOVEREIGN). Her highly-anticipated seventh novel, LEGEND OF SHEBA, releases September 2014.

Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts with studies at Oxford University. She is a lifelong world adventure traveler and makes her home in the Midwest. To learn more about Tosca, visit

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