Thursday, April 18, 2013

Iscariot: A Novel of Judas by Tosca Lee

Judas Iscariot. The man who betrayed God. The man whose very name has become synonymous with infidelity. The man who had all the guilt of the world on his shoulders, and ultimately succumbed to it. We think we know him in all his single-mindedness, but do we really?

Beginning with his childhood, Tosca Lee dives into the life of Judas Iscariot-unearthing some circumstances and the political and religious atmosphere that may have ultimately contributed to his behavior. Allowing us a glimpse of who this man may have been, Tosca brings new depth to this story of betrayal, and makes us all wonder: are we really so different?

When I first heard that Tosca's new novel would be about the life of Judas Iscariot, I was quite surprised. By that time I had read Demon: A Memoir so it wasn't really the subject of a character shrouded in darkness that threw me off guard. No, it was reading the thoughts and emotions of the man who betrayed Jesus to death, and was so crushed by the guilt that he took his own life.

Then, another thought hit me. Jesus would be a character in this book. Rather, Jesus would be the highlight in this book. Because what book that contains him does not feature the son of God as the highlight?

And so, when my copy arrived, I began- not quite sure what to expect. The story did begin with the childhood of Judas. A vivid world was painted with a history largely unknown to me. The possible atmosphere Judas grew up in was very intriguing and was really a story in itself. So the story was definitely about Judas, but also as much about Jesus. The anticipation of the coming messiah, the experiences Judas shared with Jesus, and the way he was always on the disciple’s mind.

Overall, I loved the fresh view of the stories I have heard so many times before. The retelling made me think things through in a more complete scope as sometimes it can be easy to be ignorant of the implications of some things Jesus said or did, simply because we do not have the same customs or situation that those living in Israel did two millennia ago.

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