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Judas! February 20, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Books, Culture, Religion.
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Reading a recent edition of Private Eye magazine over the weekend I was drawn to the Literary Review pages, and the Books & Bookmen (sic) column. In it was a brief piece about how last year New Zealand novelist had “My name was Judas” published. As PE noted this was ‘a fictionalised memor in which Judas Iscariot defended himself against he charge that he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In Stead’s version, Judas didn’t kill himself after the crucifixion but lived to a ripe old age and with a clear conscience’.

PE goes on to note that ‘with a loud fanfare’ Jeffrey Archer ‘reveals the startlingly original premise of his next book’… The Gospel According to Judas. As PE continues this is a ‘fictionalised memoir dictated by Judas Iscariot…defending him against he charge that he betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver’… where he ‘lived to a ripe old age and with a clear conscience’.

PE finishes with the quip ‘Another triumph for the master story teller’.

Well, perhaps. Far be it for me to defend Jeffrey Archer. But… this is far from the second time around for this particular plot line (and TGAtJ) is actually co-authored with Professor Francis J. Moloney described as “one of the world’s leading biblical scholars”).

In 1972, Peter Van Greenaway, one of the more interesting British thriller writers of the 1960s and 70s (and author of the Medusa Touch on which the not really great horror movie was based) wrote a book called...The Judas Gospel. Now it’s at least fifteen years since I read it, but I seem to recall something along the lines of a ‘fictionalised memoir dictated by Judas Iscariot’…etc, etc, etc. Greenaway’s work is more subtle – at least in intent – than those above (well I’m being unfair to at least one of the authors above since I’ve read neither of their books) as a review in Time magazine from 1972 indicates (incidentally, what an internet to be able to get that particular review).

In 1995 Daniel Easterman, or Denis MacEoin to use his proper name (born in Belfast no less) released the Judas Testament. Another thriller, this time with the author of the Testament being Jesus. Okay, that’s a little confusing, as was the thriller, with various machinations by factions within the Catholic Church and neo-fascist groups to gain control and/or destroy the Testament. As I recall it was an entertaining read.

A quick look at wikipedia reveals a tidal wave of fictional usages of Judas in one way or another.

So in truth it’s hard to get too worked up about a device used so freely.

Still, in a way what is fascinating is that in a largely secularised period of history this particular narrative retains a currency. Is it the equivalent of that old publishers trick, putting a Swastika on the cover of a thriller, anecdotally said to be always good for a couple of extra thousand sales? Or is it that the inversion of a history (and I use the term advisedly) learned so young by many in Western culture somehow has a peculiar power? Curious too that there have been no significant religious sects built around the figure of Judas, but perhaps his ‘betrayal’ is too rooted in the mundane and the human to have much traction in the divine, even as an alternate focus for worship.

Perhaps Manichaeism was closest in spirit to such a sect. Or indeed the Cathars with their development of Manichaeism into a more explicitly Christian influenced religion. Dualism, a battle between the material and the light (and their belief that the Christian God was essentially an imposter) echoes the duality between Jesus and Judas.

The material world as a prison? The Old Testament God as usurper… Great stuff. Although some of the proscriptions of Catharism don’t seem quite so…cheering…

Maybe it’s time someone wrote a thriller about the survival of the Cathars into the modern era…

What’s that? You say it’s already been done?

Still, if the mini-industry centred on Judas is anything to go by there’s always room for one more.

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Comments»

1. Pidge - February 20, 2007

Yeah…but it’s Jeffrey Archer.

Come on. Jeffrey Archer.

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2. Pidge - February 20, 2007

I mean seriously now, Jeffrey Archer.

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3. WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2007

Did I not see him in a photo the other day for the Verdict programme on TV? The man is everywhere.

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4. Seamus Breathnach - March 24, 2007

Archer attempts to rehabilitate Judas

Hot from Rome ,Geoffrey Archer appeared on Pat Kenny’s ‘Late Late Show’ (Sat., March 24) to tell the world of his new epipany. The new Archer was flying under the Papal flag and was obviously forgiven all his sins. Not only that ,but his adviser , Professor Francis J Moloney”, an Australian, and — as Geoffrey kept remindiing the RTE rent-a-crowd, one of the world’s leading Biblical scholars. There was nothing that this guy didn’t know about the New Testament.

It was just by the way that he knew how to scratch Geoffrey’s back just as Geoffrey knew how to scratch Professor Monoley’s back. One can’t imagine what both of them ,with Pope Benedict XV1’s blessing ,did to poor JUDAS’ back!

At first I thought it was all about the money — and so it was! But then Professor Moloney went solo — it was as if the Opus had set up the whole show just for his solo performance — and then he launched so orgasmically against Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, that it all became perfectly clear. Amongst other crimes , said the Professor, Da Vinci had ‘insulted my church!’. One could hear Pope Benedict XVI sigh in actual relief at the coup de gras. They were out to get Da Vinci in the same manner as John Paul 11 was out to get Karl Marx, and every other Jew who got in the way. It fell to the Irish to save the Church — a little after the fashion of the McCarthy trials, Mel Gibson and Bill O’Reilly latest ‘Raus! ‘Raus- escapade on Oprah.

In the Irish case, it was nothng new. Since the fourth century the Holy Romans have been bringing over Anglici holier-than-thou Christians to blind the Druidic pagan natives with other-worldly science. When the New Testament didn’t work, they resorted to the Pope’s personal army of Knights Templars. Then the Papacy got fed up with the Gaelis who refused either to read Latin or believe in the Ressurection or the Immaculate Conception. The Papacy had enough: it just sold the whole island to Henry 1 for a rental of a shilling per household. After that the Papacy and the King decided to transplant the whole island with Catcholic-minded Englishmen, a little like Lord Archer, mostly writers of fiction, so that the whole island became laden with Englishmen (now called Irish), whereupon every Gaelic-speaking pagan left the island forever.

What the Holy Romans have against Dan Brown is that he tells a better story than they do. Their royalties from the New Testament has been collossal. Nevertheless ,they don’t want any upstarts climbing into their story-telling boots and corrupting minors by telling them better stories. Lord Archer is there to assure the faithful that only the best line of fiction comes from the Vatican. And contrary to popular rumour, the Vatican is not language biased.

It is true that the Holy Romans have kept up the English connection but have always kept the Executive branch of broadcasting and government for those who speak Latin. More recently, because of the threat from Ian Paisley, 200,000 Polish speaking Catholics have been allowed into IReland, since when over 1,000 of them has applied to be members of the Pope’s new police force in Nothern Ireland.

divided the island between those who speak Latin and those who speak Polish.

So, when Opus switched Geoffrey Archer and Professor Moloney from Rome to Dublin, the intention all along was to keep the Catholic side in focus and show an ‘alternative’ to that bad man, Dan Brown, who said bad things about the whole Roman ball of wax.

So, why if Henry Kiessenger, Rubert Murdock, Hans Kung, Jurgen Habermas , Toney Blair and George Bush have fallen for the kiss of the Spiderwoman,why shouldn’t Geoffrey Archer? Though what it has to do with baby Jesus in a stable at Bethlahem, I can’t imagine.

In any event, go on, Geoffrey, boy: tell ‘em about Judas! Tell ‘em how it was in the garden of Gethsamene when they crucified Our Lord!

Seamus Breathnach

Dublin

http://www.irishcriminology.com (under construction!)

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5. smiffy - March 24, 2007

That’s all pretty mental. It might be a little more convincing if you didn’t keep getting Jeffrey Archer’s name wrong (although the ‘Kiessenger’-‘Murdock’-‘Toney’ axis in the penultimate paragraph was quite masterful).

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6. eileen - April 21, 2007

Seamus, or should I say James, as according to your weird historic account of Ireland’s history you are actually an Englishman. what are you talking about the Itrish were never totally replaced by Englishmen. Under the Norman king Henry 11’s (who styled himslef king of the English) reign a local Irish leader asked the king to send a few barons over to placate the Irish. Please note these were not English at all they were Norman barons. The English were Angles, not Normans and England was itself was occupied by the Normans in 1066. The bull of pope Adrian IV., , requiring a levy of one penny per household to be paid to the papacy long has been and still is, an apple of discord among scholars. Is it a genuine document or not ? The question is a weighty one, for the transaction it bears witness to was the first step towards the annexation of Ireland to England. That a papal bull was dispatched to England about this time and concerning this matter is certain. That this was the actual bull sent is doubted by many. The question is still being investigated.

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7. Seamus Breathnach - July 17, 2007

Hi Eileen,

Thanks for the reply (and the little corrections). I intended to reply to correct the terms of the Laudabiliter sale, but let it slip.

Is it true?

All the way true — incontrovertible, in fact! I shall be shortly posting some of the relevant documents on http://www.irish-criminology.com to demonstrate this simple fact that has been for centuries denied by the Pope’s Irishmen, Jesuits and such like. But the competent historians were never in doubt. Moreover, if you look it up in Catholic Encyclopaedia — great for some historical facts, if you resist their universal gloss — they practically admit it.

Further evidence is also available in several documents that were to follow the Bull. If you want a list, give me a bell through irish-criminology.com

By the way — not genetically English, although I believe the Walshes or Wallaces or some other branch of the blood was at King Arthur’s table — and I know in my heart that we fought with Boudicaa — nevertheless, the smart money runs with the notion that the Breathnachs were Walsh (Breathnach actually means ‘person from Wales’).

And to your next question: Yes! It is much too late to go back to the Rhonda!

Le meas,

Seamus Breathnach

http://www.irish-criminology.com

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