The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #20: Judas Iscariot

This week’s theme music is “Judas Skin” from the Vigilantes of Love record Slow Dark Train.


General Introduction

– What’s on the blog?
– An historical moment for the Christian Humanist Podcast
– Detective fiction from Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett
– Our upcoming series on Lost

Introduction to Judas
– Getting agitated
– How do we picture him?
– Judas as revolutionary and hipster disciple
– What does Iscariot mean?

Etymology of “Judas”
– Judah the son of Israel
– Judas the Maccabee
– What this double lineage means

Jesus and Judas
– Why did Jesus pick Judas?
– Michial gives the Calvinist party line
– Zealots and tax collectors
– Judas as disciple, not betrayer

A Long Tangent About Inerrancy
– The Passover timeline
– Harmony vs. difference
– The search for the historical truth
– How did Judas die?

Judas in Literature
– Dante and “the morning breath of eternity”
– Anglo-Saxon Middle Ages stuff
– A New Kind of Judas: American literature

Judas on Film
The Matrix (of all things)
– Anti-semitism
– Why The Passion of the Christ is a bad movie

The Ghost of Judas
– His eternal destination
– Did Judas have to do what he did?
– To what extent are we ourselves Judases?
– Judas as fascist poet

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Adams, Douglas. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. New York: Pocket, 1998.

Baum, Paull Franklin. “The Mediæval Legend of Judas Iscariot.” PMLA 31.3 (1916): 481-632.

Beadle, Richard and Pamela M. King, eds. York Mystery Plays: A Selection in Modern Spelling. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

Buechner, Frederick. Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who. San Francisco: Harper, 1979.

Child, Francis James, ed. The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. New York: Forgotten, 2007. 5 volumes.

Cullen, Countee. “Judas Iscariot.” Collected Poems. New York: Library of America, 2010. (forthcoming)

Dante. The Divine Comedy. Trans. Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Penguin, 1950. 3 volumes.

Eliot, T.S. “Journey of the Magi.” The Complete Poems and Plays 1909-1950. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1952. 68-69.

Guirgis, Stephen Adly. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2006.

Kazantzakis, Nikos. The Last Temptation of Christ. New York: Touchstone, 1998.

The Junius Manuscript. Trans. George P. Krapp. New York: Columbia UP, 1931.

Porter, Katherine Anne. “Flowering Judas.” The Collected Stories. New York: Mariner, 1979. 90-102.

Pratchett, Terry. Men at Arms. London: Gollancz, 1993.

Schueler, Donald G. “The Middle English Judas: An Interpretation.” PMLA 91.5 (1976): 840-5.

Wright, Thomas, ed. The Chester Plays: A Collection of Mysteries Founded Upon Scriptural Subjects. New York: Nabu, 2010.

3 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #20: Judas Iscariot

  1. I think that Judas is one of the most complete stories in the Bible in terms of narrative tension (Aristotle’s three unities.)

    The whole time you read it you’re like, “Awwww, dip! How’s he going to get out of that whale?”

    Thank you. Thank you.
    I’m going back to sleep.

  2. In the “I never claimed to be an encyclopedia” file…

    I missed a twentieth-century portrayal of Judas, that in Norman Mailer’s “The Gospel According to the Son.” I’ve not read this novel, but I’ll reproduce the generally reliable John Updike’s position:

    Mailer makes Judas a Sixties radical–a rich kid who has become a militant socialist. “I hate the rich,” he tells Jesus. “They poison all of us. They are vain, undeserving, and wasteful of the hopes of those who are beneath them. They spend their lives lying to the lowly.” Judas becomes a disciple not because he believes the Master’s promises of salvation but because these promises will give the poor courage. Mailer has a narrow basis for this in John 12:3-5. When Jesus accepts the extravagant favor of the anointment with spikenard (his feet in John, his head in Mark and Matthew), it is specifically Judas who protests that the precious perfume should have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. In the gospel according to Mailer, after Jesus accepts the luxurious touch with the observation that the poor are with you always, Judas departs and prepares to betray his Master. The moral crux–one’s obligation to the less fortunate versus the value of ceremony and an instinctive, joyous selfishness–is exposed by the modern gospeller but then pragmatically fudged. “Many roads lead to the Lord,” he writes, and, “The truth need last no longer than a shaft of lightning in order to be the mightiest truth of all.”


    If Updike is to be believed, Mailer nearly departs from the view of Judas I discuss as typical of Modern and Postmodern depictions–he’s not QUITE sympathetic, but neither is he Snidley Whiplash.

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