Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil

Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil

by Hyam Z. Maccoby
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780029195550
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 12/15/1991
Edition description: 1st American ed
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 6.41(w) x 9.57(h) x 0.96(d)

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Hyam Maccoby's 'Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil' is a powerful statement both on how myths develop and how they impact history. In 'Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil' Maccoby points out that in Paul's first Letter to the Corinthians (15:5), Paul states that Jesus, immediately after his resurrection, was seen by 'the Twelve' - i.e. the original twelve disciples including Judas. This contradicts the later assertions in the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus was seen by only eleven disciples. The Judas Iscariot story, Maccoby concludes, was thus invented not less than 30 years after Jesus died. Maccoby argues that the Evangelists split Judas into two people, one good, one evil. The real Judas shows up somewhat belatedly in the Gospel of Luke as 'Judas of James'. Judas Iscariot, the Satanically-inspired traitor, is a completely fictitious character, the mythical, split-off alter-ego of the real Judas. Anybody familiar with Maccoby's books instantly recognizes this argument. Maccoby argued in the exact same way about Jesus himself in his book 'Revolution in Judaea' where he claimed that Jesus Barabbas was the real Jesus of Nazareth, and that Jesus Christ was an imaginary person, the real Jesus' split-off alter-ego. Maccoby's general theory in these books is that this doubling or splitting process is the standard modus operandi of the Gospel-writers in dealing with politically uncomfortable facts. For the real Jesus and Judas, according to Maccoby, were Zealots, firebrand anti-Roman revolutionaries. The early church that produced the Gospels consciously suppressed these characters, supplanting them with imaginary counterparts basically for purposes of political correctness. This is a powerful theory that is not to be dismissed lightly. It explains alot, like, for instance the name 'Iscariot' (derived from the latin 'sicarius'. The sicarii were a particularly violent wing of the Zealots, hence 'Judas Iscariot' really means Judas the Zealot). Why is there even a traitor in the story at all? Maccoby argues that this is a result of the kind of story that Christianity is: a story about a human sacrifice, essentially, a necessary murder. What the story wants, Maccoby says, is a scapegoat, someone to do the dirty deed of bringing about Jesus' death, without which there would be no sacrifice and no salvation. Why choose Judas out of all of Jesus disciples to be that scapegoat? According to Maccoby, the answer to that question is somewhat darker: it's because his name means 'Jew'. Insofar as Judas is the eponymous or by-name representative of the Jewish people, his selection by the Evangelists as Jesus' traitor is part of a wider anti-semitic indictment by institutional Christianity. 'Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil' is a challenging book at times. It is also a book that cannot be ignored. Read it with an open mind.