April 15, 2014
I don’t get this business with Judas Iscariot.
I mean, this whole drama about The Betrayal just has all the earmarks of an urban legend, Jerusalem-style (where they inspire more whoppers than Burger King).
First off, Jesus announces that he is going to be betrayed. OK, the upper room is full of guys with kitchen passes having a boy’s-night-out dinner and maybe the wine is flowing pretty freely — I understand the usual Passover four-drink-minimum was in effect — but it’s hard to believe that only one guy heard the Prince O’ Peas drop this little bombshell. What…were they all busy telling seder jokes (“See, this Greek Oracle, a Roman goddess and a Mesopotamian walk into a bar…”) that they couldn’t hear one of Jesus’ famous pronouncements?
So you have this guy resting his head on Jesus’ breast while the Son O’ Man declares that not only is he going to be betrayed but he’s going to finger the culprit on the spot. Jesus proceeds to dip some bread in a bowl and gives it to the alleged weasel, Judas. Does anyone jump up and get upset that Jesus has pointed out a traitor? All right, maybe only the breast-resting Beloved Disciple (BD) actually heard any of this. Wouldn’t you think he would sound the alarm, or at least warn some of the others so they don’t go wandering off in the Garden of Gethsemane by themselves?
Now Judas excuses himself to go off and do something or other. Since Judas was the treasurer for the group, I suppose they might have thought he was off to get more wine or pick up some dessert. But you’d think the BD would be suspicious, eh?
See, he knows: (I) Jesus will be betrayed and, (II) Judas is the…er…Judas. And, since Jesus has been acting all solemn through the So Long Seder, it might not be a bad guess that this is the Last Repast and that, therefore, (III) Judas is now off setting up the big sting.
But let’s give BD the benefit of the doubt for a moment and join Jesus in the Garden.
We find the Scion O’ Zion off with his three favorite sidekicks (wait…what happened to the Beloved Disciple if he’s so dang beloved?) in Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane, by the way can be anagrammed into “Me snag thee” and “He meet snag.” (Also “He gets Agnes,” but that’s a different story.) I know these are awfully clumsy phrases, but that’s how they talked back then.
So here we have The J-Man all weepy-eyed in the Garden with the Dozing Disciples.
But let’s backtrack a bit before we get to the main point.
Remember that a week before, Jesus had this triumphant entry into Jerusalem with Hosannas and palms…and he had this great ass, donkey actually (and a colt to boot), that were so special that he had to make special super-secret arrangements to have them delivered to him. Furthermore, His Nibs was pretty notorious in the Temple portico areas where he had literally trashed the joint by turning over tables and lambasting the moneychangers and, presumably, the temple prostitutes. And this is the Chap O’ Chaps who made a name in Gallilee for turning water into wine, walking on water, feeding thousands with miraculously appearing loaves and lox. Add to this that he processes around with this entourage of sturdy North Gallileans looking all bliss’d out.
Apparently he had not escaped the notice of the Jewish high priests, viziers, Sadducees, Pharisees (whom he brought forward for Special Lambasting all the time), procurators and probably several decades’ worth of Herods, not to mention the Sanhedrin and what-all.
So this is not someone who could fade into the adobe; they all knew His Lordship was in the house.
Plus, he’s got this great shiny halo on top of his head.
OK, back to the Garden and His Annointedness.
The plan is for Judas to “betray” his Master with a kiss. (I guess a simple finger point wouldn’t do.)
But what’s to betray?
Judas isn’t there to give evidence of any kind. He’s just there to drop a denarius on Jesus. But as we’ve seen, Jesus isn’t exactly hard to spot, what with his entourage and halo and all. And it’s not like Judas had any special knowledge of where to find His Wonderfulness. Judas was already gone by the time Jesus decided to go for the Last Constitutional. Who knew Jesus was in the mood for a Prayer Walk?
And…not so by the way, what the heck is Peter (the original “Rocky”) doing with a sword? He’s a dang fisherman by trade. He supposedly cuts off one of the soldier’s ears, which gives the Babe O’ Bethlehem a chance to work in a last-minute miracle. But how many retired fishermen do you know who walk around armed with a sword, much less one sharp enough to do an emergency ear-ectomy.So the Great Triager reattaches the ear, the Dozing Disciples perform the miracle of making themselves invisible and Jesus gets trundled off for some serious scripture fulfilling.
And it says here that Judas runs off to hang himself.
I’m not buying it. No…I think Judas was framed. I don’t have any proof of course. The New Testament is strangely quiet about some things…while it blathers on about everything from the Begats to the Beatitudes. But I’m putting my drachmae on The BD himself. If the Beloved Disciple is even half the man I think he is, he’s got himself a cozy retreat on a small island in the Aegean where he plans to retire and write some apocalyptic potboilers designed to put a little Fear o’ The Lord into anyone who comes a callin’ with a warrant.
Seven seals, my ass…er, donkey.
Top photo: first page of the Gospel of Judas (Page 33 of Codex Tchacos)
Peter cutting Malchus' ear: Duccio di Buoninsegna: "Christ Taken Prisoner" (detail) tempera on wood between 1308 and 1311