Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, has been increasingly rehabilitated over the last few years. His gospel has been rediscovered. Interesting books are written about his role in Scriptures and in history. Novelist Amos Oz has written his own unique contribution to the debate. This Israeli writer has been fascinated by the figure of Judas ever since his childhood. In this, his first novel in years, thoughts about the apostle play a major role. The book has been described as a novel about treason, but this article argues that the motive of loyalty is at least as important. This we hope to demonstrate by considering the novel in the context of Oz’s oeuvre. Next, we will go on to show that the book Judas actually also fits in with the scholarly discussion about Jesus’s Jewish context. The book Judas is about Sjemoeël Asch, a college dropout who finds a rather special job. In return for board and lodging and a small salary, he is asked to have conversations with a handicapped intellectual. This will allow him enough time to continue working on his master thesis that was supposed to be about Jesus in his Jewish context. Sjemoeël likes Jesus, but he believes that ultimately, Judas is the founder of Christianity, rather than Jesus. Judas is supposed to have challenged Jesus to show his divinity, and to that same end, he also arranged for his death on the cross. When the resurrection Judas expected did not take place, his world fell apart and he committed suicide. Oz is not just after Judas’s rehabilitation, but also after a rehabilitation of Judaism. All the main characters in this novel could be branded a traitor. The house Sjemoeël moves to once belonged to a Jewish politician who was banned from politics because of his ties to Arabs. His daughter seduces many men – including Sjemoeël – but in doing so, is deeply loyal to her husband who was killed. Maybe Oz tries to show with this book that he himself is not a traitor. He is faithful to his ideals for Israel. In the end, Oz shows in his Judas that he is also loyal to a special family tradition. While Joseph Klausner, Oz’s great-uncle, wrote a scholarly work attempting to reclaim Jesus as part of the Jewish tradition, Oz writes a novel about the subject. Meanwhile, he rehabilitates not only Judas the dreamer, but also all those Israelis who, like Oz himself, dream(ed) of peace between Jews and Arabs.
- Amos Oz
- Vrede in Israel
- Joodse achtergrond van het Nieuwe Testament