Teaching a course on the Bible and music leads me to encounter so much material that I can scarcely manage to blog about everything that is interesting – much less include it all in the class! The same is true of religion and science fiction, and many other subjects. But it seems especially true in the case of the Bible and music, because as I’ve said before, at every point of intersection there tend to be multiple settings of the text to music.
To be sure, the story of Judas is a relatively rare one. And yet one setting, Jesus Christ Superstar, is more famous than many other musical tellings of the story of Jesus that don’t put Judas center stage. But Jim Davila drew attention to another one, The Judas Passion:
“The Judas Passion,” by Scottish composer Sally Beamish and librettist David Harsent, is a contemporary passion that revisits the life of Judas Iscariot, exploring the age-old story through themes of forgiveness and redemption. Loosely based on Gnostic texts, it was commissioned by Philharmonia Baroque and Britain’s Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
There was also apparently a Saint Judas Passion released in 1973, a contemporary opera by Steve Engle.
I wrote a short story about the death of Judas that I hope to publish at some point. There is a sense in which many of the graphic novels and musical renditions of New Testament characters’ stories deserve to be considered under the umbrella of “historical fiction” and yet they typically do not get discussed together.
Brian Davidson has explored the nuances of the interaction between Jesus and Judas in the Gethsemane narrative.
Judas also plays an important role in the Gospel of Barnabas. If you haven’t read the book, you can see the movie.
An exhibit of manuscripts related to Jews and Judaism in the British Library also focused attention on several that depict Judas in their illustrations.
Comic books also get a mention in the LA Review of Books:
Bringing us back to where we began, but only for subscribers to his blog, Bart Ehrman talked about the quest for the historical Judas Iscariot.