Gospel Judases

Interpreters at Playin Mythic Fields


  • Richard Walsh




religion, nature, culture


The canonical Judas is not a developed, literary character, but, rather, a sign within Christian discourse of the fated, traitorous disciple who came to an appropriate reward. Christian mythology employs that figure in order to demarcate boundaries between insiders and outsiders. The discourse uses that Judas as a scapegoat to exorcise evil. When modern critics remove the individual gospels from the canon, their readings depict several different Judases: for example, Mark’s apocalyptic victim, Matthew’s repentant murderer, Luke’s apostate apostle, and John’s thieving demon. Such readings expose the determinism that creates the gospel Judases and the (at least, potential) anti-Semitism that creates the canonical Judas. More importantly, reflection on such “isms” creates the mythic space necessary for the modern critic’s mythic self-definition. As a result, the modern Judases are themselves signs within some modern mythology, stressing individual freedom, rather than canonical mythology. As these modern Judases fail as exemplars of human freedom, Judas remains a sign of alienation and victimization.


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How to Cite

Walsh, R. (2007). Gospel Judases: Interpreters at Playin Mythic Fields. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 2(1), 29–46. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v2i1.29