In this expansive cultural biography of Judas, prominent scholar Susan Gubar explores the meaning of Jesus' betrayer over twenty centuries.
Who was Judas Iscariot and why did he betray Jesus? Despite the recent recovery of a Gnostic Gospel bearing his name, the centrality of the twelfth apostle has gone largely ignored. Yet, because of gaps and incongruities in his appearance in the Bible, artists throughout the ages have returned to this man, whose treacherous act inaugurates Jesus' death and resurrection.
In this comprehensive, interdisciplinary work, Susan Gubar explains that a Jewish Judas was deployed to differentiate Judaism from emergent Christianity and that he therefore reflects ambivalence about a composite Judeo-Christianity as well as changing attitudes toward the body, blood, and money; greed and hypocrisy; suicide and repentance; homosexuality and divinity. Over twenty centuries, a figure of disgrace turns into a dignitary.
Gubar shows how Jesus' most notorious disciple--known for a kiss--has provoked profound reflections on the problem of evil that still resonate today.
How does one go about writing a biography of a man about whom we know virtually nothing? Yes, we have the gospel accounts about the 12th disciple. And we have some evidence from church tradition about the man who betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the Roman authorities. Gubar (Poetry After Auschwitz), Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University, has done a magnificent job of collecting and analyzing the scriptural accounts of Judas's life and lore, combining them with 2,000 years of the church's constant reimagining of the Judas story. Readers will be amazed at how often the disciple is depicted in art, music and literature. And even more surprising will be the role he later played in shaping history, growing "into a revered savior" in the minds of 20th-century Nazi propagandists. Gubar is relentless in her documenting of "changing conceptualizations of a figure with multiple personalities during the trajectory of a convoluted career." The evolution of the Judas myth is an important story, one not to be missed. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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W. W. Norton & Company
March 03, 2009
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