|Pages/Publication Date:||311 / 2015|
|Publisher:||Hodder & Stoughton|
(A 2015 Book of the Year in the Biography and Memoir category for London's Independent on Sunday) In this fascinating historical and cultural biography, the author of The Devil—A Biography and Heaven—A Traveller's Guide to the Undiscovered Country deconstructs that most vilified of Bible characters: Judas Iscariot, who famously betrayed Jesus to his captors with a kiss. Beginning with the gospel accounts, Peter Stanford explores 2,000 years of cultural and theological history to investigate how the very name Judas came to be synonymous with betrayal and evil. But as Standford points out, there has long been a countercurrent of thought that suggests that Judas might in fact have been victim of a terrible injustice: central to Jesus's mission was his death and resurrection, and for there to have been a death, there had to be a betrayal. An essential but doomed character in the Passion narrative, and thus the entire story of Christianity, Judas and the betrayal he symbolizes continue to play out in much larger cultural histories, speaking as he does to our deepest fears about friendship, betrayal and the problem of evil.
"There is no better navigator through the space in which art, culture and spirituality meet than Peter Stanford. His biography of the Devil is a masterpiece. This is an easier book, written in a friendlier style, but the research is just as through.... Despite the layers of confusion between the present day and what happened—or not—2,000 years ago, he finds meaning, and spins a good yarn. (There is also an A to Z of Judas-related bits and pieces, from asparagus to the Zodiac, which is fun).... Stanford is more than willing to admit that some or all of this—including the character of Judas himself—may be fiction, as he picks apart the gospels beautifully and uncovers what appears to be home truths.... This entertaining, enlightening biography serves the sympathetic old devil wonderfully well."—Independent on Sunday (London)