Iscariot changes your mind on Judas


ISCARIOT-A Novel of Judas by Tosca Lee, a New York Times Best Seller, is a fictional work about Judas Iscariot. Little is known about him (20 Bible verses), but what we do know is, Judas was a traitor, a liar, a thief, and he had a deadly kiss.

Tosca Lee has embellished Judas’ life, putting flesh and blood to his skeleton and giving us a new perspective of the man’s life from six years old to the time of the kiss. Based on history of the time, the Lee wraps the life of Judas into the folds of a societal powder keg. Lee challenges the reader to ask, “Would you do what Judas did?”

Iscariot could refer to a Jewish rebel, trying to overthrow Rome’s rule. Lee clearly portrays the chaos, confusion and rebellious nature of the Jewish people against a powerful Roman empire. Rebels were tired of Rome’s rule and set out to change the course of history.

Judas sees his father and brother killed, his mother begging to survive, and rebellion on the rise. He returns to the city, where he marries, only to have rebels kill his wife and unborn child.

Judas puts his hope in Jesus, the Nazarene, who says, “Follow Me.” He commits himself to love Jesus, but others tell him that Jesus may be deceiving him. In an abrupt turn, he aligns himself with religious leaders of the city and delivers the fatal kiss to his Master, overturning the whole foundation of history.

Lee has clearly examined and uses the extreme volatility among the people to show the explosive nature of the Jewish people, and the influences on Judas.

But Judas has become enamored by the personality, of Jesus, who talks about a different life, in words and deeds, and that has given Judas new hope.

Lee has shown the deep conflict within Judas, as he tries to live in his society while following Jesus. The government, the society, the influence of family and friends, and his own spiritual yearnings, have caused him great conflict. “Would you do what Judas did?”

I saw Judas as flesh and blood; human like myself. In light of his past, his actions made sense. I like Judas the traitor, liar and thief, for the truth he was to himself. Lee has shown us the internal conflicts of a man and his government, his society, and his family, all pitted up against his religious beliefs.  “Are you like Judas?”

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a great read understanding the conflicts of Judas and his culture. We face these same challenges with our government, our society, and our families all pitted against our spiritual beliefs. Be prepared to change your mind about Judas.

Book review written by Dean Skoglund