- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1st American ed edition (May 31, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0029195551
- ISBN-13: 978-0029195550
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,474,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil Hardcover – May 31, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
Maccoby's historical thesis is that the traitorous Judas of the gospels was a sheer invention -- but one nevertheless "spun off" from a real person: the Judas of history was the brother of Jesus. And yes, Maccoby has to perform some remarkable hat tricks in order to pull this off.
Whether or not one accepts his historical reconstruction, though, Maccoby has helpful things to say about the role of myth in antisemitism. He does make a strong case that the character of Judas has served (as his name suggests) as a stand-in for the Jews in Christian thought and culture. And he makes some extremely pertinent remarks about the "fundamentalism" of certain writers on the nature of myth (e.g. Rudolf Bultmann, Joseph Campbell), noting well that myths are not beyond criticism either.
Not Maccoby's best book, then, but still very much worth reading.
1) Jesus obviously had foreknowledge that Judas was going to inform the authorities where to find him. First of all, if we assume that as the Son of God and the Second member of the Holy Trinity, Jesus is God and therefore knows everything, OF COURSE he then must know what Judas is up to.
2) The Gospels themselves say that Jesus knew. In Matthew, when Judas kisses Jesus and asks, "Is it I?" Jesus tells him, "Go, do what you must."
What kind of "betrayal" is it if the object of the betrayal knows exactly what is going to happen?
If Jesus didn't want to be "betrayed" then, after telling Judas to tell the authorities to find him in the Garden of Gethsemane, ALL JESUS WOULD HAVE TO DO TO THWART THE "BETRAYAL" IS SIMPLY NOT SHOW UP.
3) It is logical to suppose that Jesus actually SENT Judas to inform the authorities. Think about it. They've just had the Last Supper. This is Jerusalem in the 1st Century; not a lot of night life. After dining on a holiday, there was nothing else to do but go to bed inside the city, more or less where they had supper. But instead, Jesus and the disciples leave the city and go to the Mount of Olives. Question: How would the authorities know to look for Jesus there? For surely, Jesus WANTED the authorities to find him.Read more ›
I read this in a day, being only a ~160pg book. Some missed opportunities here that were a disappointment include: parallels to "the kiss" to the kissing of the Torah scroll (ie kissing you goodbye) and more elaboration of the role of evil and human sacrifice in Judaism. Maccoby really does not delve into this material where the Advarsary is considered helpful, including the "evil" inclination which can derive good. Obviously, these additudes have developed alongside Christian's identification of the Jews as evil anyway, a pariah people. A comparison between the nature or role of evil in Judaism vs. Christianity's switch against the Jews would have made the book more significant. The collective blood libel ('let his blood be upon us and our children' - Matt 27:22) of deicide and other remarks against Jews (such as Jesus accusing the Jews of devil worship John 8:44) does not begin with Judas. Judas was just an accessory character, probably a symbolic one.
Another thing is his exageration of anti-semetism today. In America in the 21st century, you have jews as vice-presidential nominations, senators, etc. in every civic and professional role. Great strides have been made in the judeo-christian dialogue since WWII, and the role of Judas has been made more innocous. Many Christians may even be shocked at the association between Judas and the Jews.Read more ›