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Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple [Hardcover]

By Kim Paffenroth (Author)
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Item Number 154652  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   207
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 6.24" Height: 0.79"
Weight:   1.07 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 28, 2002
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664224245  
EAN  9780664224240  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book traces the development of the stories about the most famous traitor in the history of Western civilization. Its purpose is not to find the Judas of history but rather to provide readers with a map or family tree that shows the genetic similarities and connections between generations of Judas's story. Judas has been portrayed as an effete intellectual, a jealous lover, a greedy scoundrel, a misguided patriot, a doomed hero, a man destroyed by despair, or God's special, misunderstood messenger and agent. Judas means as many different things to us as does Jesus or God. The enigma of Judas's story in the Gospels left later literature and legend with a creative challenge they richly answered, and which is presented here: to write the real story of the worst villain of all time.

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More About Kim Paffenroth

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kim Paffenroth is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.

Kim Paffenroth was born in 1966.

Kim Paffenroth has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Augustine in Conversation

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Puts recent discoveries in context  Jun 28, 2006
I believe (humbly) that this is the book you want if you are trying to understand the recent discovery and discussion of the Gospel of Judas.
Will the real Judas please stand up?  Sep 2, 2005
Who is Judas? This would be an interesting question to ask of a Bible study group, a congregation, a class, or even people on the street in an opinion survey. Many answers are likely to arise, but one answer likely to appear frequently would be 'the man who betrayed Jesus'. But what do we really know of this person? Was there even such a person? And was Judas the ultimate betrayer, or the ultimate penitent?

Author Kim Paffenroth gives a wonderful survey of the way in which people have viewed (and constructed) the image of Judas over time. From the very beginnings in the earliest biblical texts of Paul (which, somewhat ironically, never mention the name of Judas, and are even vague about there being one particular person who served in this 'betrayer' role) to images in modern culture ('Jesus Christ Superstar', 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', and even the rock band 'Judas Priest'), Paffenroth gives an interesting and intriguing overview of who Judas was perceived to be, and how these images shifted over time.

Paffenroth in his introduction is quite clear about the limitations of his study - this is not meant to be a comprehensive and exhaustive study of all the ways in which Judas has been portrayed, but rather (given the almost limitless amount of material available) a collection of representative images. Paffenroth writes that two things are true about writing about Judas - each one brings unique traits to the forefront, but as a whole they also tend in a few particular directions generally. The image of Judas both within and outside of Christianity also continues to develop over time, so a final definitive study would in fact be impossible to provide.

This is also not a simple biography of Judas. It does not set out to give biographical sketch and details about who Judas was, which would be nearly impossible because of the limitations of source materials, but Paffenroth also voices his concern over such enterprises as the search for the historical Jesus, both from intentional and methodological issues.

Paffenroth's main directions include Judas as the ultimate sinner, Judas as villain, Judas as a tragic hero, and finally Judas as the figure of penitence and (somewhat ironically, given his major images) hope. Prior to looking at these images, however, Paffenroth looks at the earliest data available on Judas, in Pauline literature (the earliest canonical writing available), the Markan text (most likely the earliest gospel), and the concept of Hakeldama, the Field of Blood, that seems to have its own tradition somewhat independent of the canonical strands. In Pauline literature, the name of Judas is never mentioned, and indeed the idea of a single 'betrayer' is not prominent. Paffenroth prefers the translation of 'handed over' rather than 'betrayed' in the biblical texts for the most part; it also becomes unclear both from Pauline and gospel texts if Jesus isn't seen to bear the majority of this responsibility, since the prophecies Jesus was fulfilling require sacrifice.

Early views of Judas include Lukan texts (which expand on the character of Judas and his ultimate fate), Papias, non-canonical gospels, and Dante - often the focus on the character of evil, and have a fixation on the death and punishment of Judas. Judas was used as an object of terror. Judas also was a hated figure, which surfaces canonically most prominently in John, but then there is also the recurring theory that Judas, not John, was the author of the fourth gospel, and perhaps even the beloved disciple. Judas becomes the archetype for the image of the Jew in anti-semitic terms, and even the name 'Judas' is derivative of the base word for Jew.

However, negative images have not always been the only images. Judas as a revolutionary, as a disappointed or disillusioned follower (who wanted the Messiah to be something other than what Jesus was), or as someone simply damned by fate have also been in circulation for ages. Paffenroth explores many examples of novels, plays and imaginative biographies that look at Judas as obedient even to the point of being hurt himself, as his actions were necessary for the story to progress. In the final chapter, Paffenroth explores hopeful and penitential images of Judas - perhaps his suicide and regret was motivated out of penitential sorrow? Judas is a key figure, in any case - 'Judas and our attitude toward him have become, as profoundly as the incarnation itself, the mysterious and paradoxical foundation of our possible union with God.'

Paffenroth ends with an epilogue in which he gives his own account of who Judas might have been (admitting that in earlier times he might have made the story into an historical novel or even passed it off as a piece of biblical scholarship), rather different and most likely shocking to many, but an intriguing idea of stripping away the supernatural and grandiose and rendering Judas an ordinary person in an extraordinary time.

Paffenroth's text is interesting to follow, accessible to the general reader, and should prove a worthwhile study for those who are interested in digging more deeply not simply into the biblical texts about Judas, but also the broader traditions of why he is considered as he is, and what alternatives there might be from the history of Christian thought.
Excellent Exploration of Judas . . .  Mar 7, 2004
The Lenten Season provokes reflections upon betrayal, and on the disciple, Judas Iscariot. One of the finest books written by a contemporary theologian is Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple. It is the definitive book for anyone who wants to delve into the rich persona of this archetypal traitor. Written by Kim Paffenroth, this book is a comprehensive portrayal of the canonical Judas, and a splendid examination of the legendary aspects of his history. Paffenroth's fine exegesis on Judas is superior to any of the other commentators I have read. Few theologians delve so carefully into the worrisome aspects of projections, onto Judas -as betrayer-and by Judas-as the one who casts his projection onto Christ. Paffenroth describes the psychic escalation of the dark side of the psyche with singular clarity when he compares Judas with Shakespeare's Othello.

Published in 2001 by WJK Press, this book has not received the attention it merits. Rather than obsess on betrayal as the defining characteristic of Judas' personality, Paffenroth explores the multi-dimensional aspects of both canonical story and legend. By considering Judas as an "obscure object of curiosity, an arch-sinner and object of horror, as villain and object of hatred and derision, and as tragic hero and object of admiration and sympathy," the author finds a means whereby he may present Judas as "the penitent: object of hope and emulation." This is no small task and the exegetical excellence of this book makes it a must read for every pastor during this Lenten Season.

[Rev.] Sandra M. Rushing

An engaging and revealing portrait  Apr 25, 2002
This book gives fascinating insights into the stories that have arisen around Judas, the man who handed over his friend, teacher, and Lord to an unjust and humiliating death. The subject calls for a book that will evoke the rich significance of this act and will be generous in its appreciation for the motivations behind it. This is the account Paffenroth has written. He delights in the diversity of interpretations because only an abundance of responses could bring home the reality of Judas.

This is a book about ourselves more than Judas. He is the "cipher" (p. 15) we have used through the ages to tell our stories about good and evil, friendship and betrayal, our highest hopes and our deepest fears. Each chapter begins with careful literary and historical analysis of early reactions to Judas. I found these interesting in themselves. They come to life through examples taken from film and literature. For example, Paffenroth illustrates the significance of Judas's absence in St. Paul's letters by giving a review of the film "Jesus of Montreal," which omits any reference to Judas or a betrayal. Each chapter has its own unexpected gems: in chapter 2, a discussion of Judas in charms and curses; in chapter 3, the use of Judas to promote anti-semitism, in its more insidious as well as more overt forms; in chapter 4, the bizarre legends, based on the story of Oedipus, that embellish many of the medieval saints' lives; and, in chapter 5, the weird legends of Judas's punishments.

These are only a few of the many entertaining and instructive discussions in this book. It is brilliant, funny, scholarly, and poignant. Give yourself a treat and follow Judas through the imaginations of everyone from the gnostics, through Dante and Shakespeare, to Dostoyevsky and Martin Scorsese.


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