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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel according to St. Judas
This terrific novel purports to give an alternative account of the life of Jesus, as witnessed by his childhood friend Judas who didn't, in this telling, hang himself (or even betray Jesus in the first place) being guilty only of skepticism where his fellow disciples were not. In this telling, after the crucifixion Judas lived to a ripe old age and finally got to tell his...
Published on 29 Nov 2006 by Olly Buxton

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
I enjoyed reading this book as Judas has always been portrayed in a very negative light. It was good to read a possible alternative view both on Judas and also on Jesus.
Published 14 months ago by William2


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel according to St. Judas, 29 Nov 2006
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This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Hardcover)
This terrific novel purports to give an alternative account of the life of Jesus, as witnessed by his childhood friend Judas who didn't, in this telling, hang himself (or even betray Jesus in the first place) being guilty only of skepticism where his fellow disciples were not. In this telling, after the crucifixion Judas lived to a ripe old age and finally got to tell his story in his dotage.

I fear Stead's novel is a couple of millennia late for Judas' global reputation to be restored; all the same, My Name Was Judas is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and gently (and therefore devastatingly) subversive.

Subversive in exactly the same way that Monty Python's Life of Brian was - not because it is blasphemously irreverent (it isn't) nor because it is alleges itself to be true and therefore falsifying of biblical texts (it doesn't), but because the account it gives, even though overtly fictional, is so much more plausible than the traditional story. Where Brian made the "mute" man speak by accidentally treading on his toe, Judas the sceptic explains away most of Jesus' miracles in terms of more prosaic causes - often times nothing more than a bit of hyperbolic hearsay and a distinct - and entirely credible - willing suspension of disbelief from those followers who, with their own agenda, propagated the story.

The Jesus described by Stead is a much more believable radical revolutionary than the one of Christian myth. As a result, the reader is constantly obliged to ask himself, "how could I have bought the gospel stories in the first place?" - much the same question, though more deftly phrased, that Richard Dawkins has bludgeoned his readers over the head with in his The God Delusion. Stead's presentation is 100% more stealthy and, consequently, effective.

The other remarkable thing about this book is that a New Zealander like Stead should be writing a non-domestic story at all, let alone with such elan. New Zealand literary circles, such as they are (we New Zealanders, on the whole, don't go in for reading in a big way), are usually at pains to assert their domestic cultural credentials, and New Zealand literature which doesn't is viewed by the defensive Kiwi literati as either worthless or a bit too big for its boots. This "cultural cringe" factor leads to mostly worthy but humourless and dull output, which is probably *why* New Zealanders don't read much, come to think of it. Stead is one of New Zealand's foremost living writers, so perhaps he can get away with it, but in any case such an openly outward looking perspective is to be celebrated, especially when done so well.

Throughly recommended.

Olly Buxton
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping and subtle challenge, 3 Jan 2007
This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Hardcover)
This book is beautifully written, utterly engaging and brilliantly clever. The challenge it presents to Christianity is fascinating in its subtlety and, as a previous reviwer said, stealthy subversiveness. One one level a gripping page-turner and on another a deep, reflective and gentle theological argument. It should be on every thinking person's reading list and every school syllabus.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprising read, 18 Jan 2008
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Paperback)
I picked this book up by chance unsure whether I would like it. I did. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's short enough to read in one sitting and I felt this did it more justice. When I had finished it I spent the rest of the evening reflecting on what I knew about Judas and Jesus and it does through different points up for debate.

As the book says "we all know the story of Jesus told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but what about the version according to Judas?" You have to imagine that Judas has never died, in fact that was a big part of the story as told by Gospels and Judas is telling his tale in his seventies. It is an interesting tale as well. I found it sad and moving as well as being enriching. I opened the covers with scepticism expecting to not enjoy it and no matter how hard I tried I didn't succeed. It is well written and extremely engrossing. You don't have to be a believer in Jesus to enjoy the novel as everyone of that faith, practising or otherwise, knows his story.

Choose it, you might be surprised.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beautiful, faithful Judas, 22 April 2010
By 
Feanor (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Paperback)
If Jesus were the Son of God and he appeared on earth to teach us the Way, and died on the cross to save us, why have the Christians since time immemorial condemned Judas as a foul traitor? It has always puzzled a detached individual that the apostle from Iscariot, who clearly was part of the proclaimed divine plan, should have been so vilified. What if, however, Judas was not a betrayer? What if he didn't hang himself on a fig tree in shame after the crucifixion of Christ? What if, indeed, he was Jesus' most faithful friend to the bitter end?

According to the wise man, there are no coincidences. Around the time that C. K. Stead published his wonderfully witty and acerbic portrayal of the life of Judas came the news of the discovery of the lost Gospel according to that accursed Apostle. My Name Was Judas was the result of a poet and realist's efforts to look at the story of Jesus through the eyes of a contemporary sceptic, an elegy filled with poetry conveying Judas' confusion, loss of faith, and grief, and love for Jesus.

Judas, recalling his life and Jesus', four decades after the fateful events that sparked a new faith and condemned him to lasting infamy, sets before us the facts. He doesn't betray his oldest friend, not for three or for thirty pieces of silver; he remains faithful to Jesus to the end despite all his doubts; he, unlike the rest of the apostles, does not run away at Jesus' capture; he skewers the various untruths that become accepted as the Christian orthodoxy; and he shows that Jesus, far from having miraculous powers, was carried away by his own eloquence into believing he was the Son of God.

Stead has said that he was interested in exploring a messianic character as a non-believer. He 'thoroughly enjoyed the certain amount of ingenuity needed to account for the miracles. I see Judas as a much-maligned character, and in my novel he doesn't betray Christ literally. He simply doesn't believe in his divinity.' With his beautifully controlled prose and his deeply moving poetry, Stead has crafted a wonderful work. For the faithful, it may prove subversive and blasphemous. For everybody, the glory of Jesus and his life shines through, not at all diminished by the revelation of his humanity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking story, 2 Aug 2009
By 
B. A. Smith "Brian Smith" (East Molesey, Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Hardcover)
this will not appeal to fundamentalist Christians but to agnostics and normal christians it will be recognised as an extremely realistis narrative of the events of the first century AD in the Holy Land. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it as have a number of friends
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the Christian Spindoctors maligned Judas, 22 Jan 2009
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Hardcover)
This is a rewriting of the Jesus tale for the 21st century through the eyes of the faithful childhood friend and non-betrayer, Judas.
Stead's skilful and surprisingly non-controversial explanantion of the Jesus myths is very welcome at this time. He does not stretch the conjuring tricks beyond credibility, indeed the rational readings of the raising of Lazarus and the wedding wine are pure semantics.
the book is clearly a work of faith rather than blasphemy and I have always wanted redemption for Judas as he became far too much part of the "spin" for the Evangelical rantings of the Hell & Damnation crowd
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A secular humanist take on the Gospels, 11 Mar 2008
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Paperback)
This take on Judas Iscariot (here Judas of Kerayot) begins intriguingly with him now calling himself Idas of Sidon, now aged seventy and being a follower of Greek rationalist thought. He tells us of the friendship between him and Jesus from the time when they were six or seven years old. Stead is wonderfully inventive and utterly credible about their childhood together and about what they experienced of the Roman occupation of their land. After their adolescence, Judas lost touch for a few years with Jesus, who had gone to study with the Essenes at Qumran. The forty days he spent in the wilderness were part of the apprenticeship the Essenes imposed on a candidate who wanted to become a full member of the community: he met the test but refused to join, having found in the wilderness his mission to preach to the world. When he returns to Nazareth, Judas, grief-stricken by the loss of his young wife and solaced by Jesus, follows him - and from that point onwards we compare this Judas' account with the one given in the Gospels. For a while, as Jesus works as a healer, it beautifully embroiders on the Gospel story. Those he healed included Lazarus, whose cure was described metaphorically as being raised from the dead. Other `miracles' recounted in the Gospels, like walking on water, are also the result of metaphors being transformed in the telling into literal events.

Gradually Judas' account diverges increasingly from that of the Gospels, in fact, feeling and interpretation. Jesus is shown as positively hostile to his mother, whose mere presence is enough to turn him from preaching peace and harmony to saying that he brought not only peace but the sword. Mary Magdalen is conflated with the unnamed sinner who washed Jesus' feet. Quarrels and competition between the disciples became part of their daily lives, and Judas was especially resented because he showed that he did not surrender so entirely to Jesus' charisma. His rational mind did not much care for Jesus' parables. The other disciples already regarded as a betrayal his lack of total belief in the claims Jesus was now making. Judas feels increasingly uneasy at Jesus' increasing militancy, at his threats that fire and brimstone would consume unbelievers, at his insistence that salvation could come only through him. Judas began to worry about Jesus' sanity, and, with the terrible example of the death of John the Baptist before him, he was worried about the danger to which Jesus was exposing himself and his followers.

In Judas' account of the Last Supper, there is no reference to Jesus pronouncing that one of the disciples would betray him; and in the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane there is nothing that could suggest that Judas could have betrayed Jesus to the Romans.

And there is an ingenious explanation for the empty tomb.

Judas was present at the foot of the Cross. It was the disciples who fled who invented the various stories of Judas' guilt and disgusting end. The Judas who lived to hear the news of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans mourns for Jerusalem and for the Jewish people; but if ever he had any faith in God, he has long since lost it. He does not, however, need God to believe in the compassionate and humanistic teaching that Jesus preached at the beginning of his mission, before he preached hellfire and came to believe in himself as the Son of God. A secular humanist will certainly find this beautifully written story about Jesus and Judas more acceptable and more credible than the Gospels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars judas has his say, 14 Jan 2011
By 
A. Browne "avid reader" (Donegal Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Paperback)
This is a very well written
portrayal of the life of Jesus by his child hood friend Judas.
The characters are very human,lots of foibles and quirks.
I read it very quickly , the book drew me into this well known life story of Jesus.
It did not change my beliefs, it just gave us another way of looking at the life of Jesus.
I will not be declaring a fatwah on CK Stead ,i will read more of his books if i come across them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scapegoat?, 30 Sep 2008
By 
Paul de Lappe "Esquilo Secreto" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Paperback)
Idas the Greek gives us the story of his life. We come to know he is actually the Judas so reviled in the Gospels. Idas welcomes a blind traveller Ptolemy and his retinue. He keeps his true identity concealed from Ptolemy (his old friend Bartholomew by any other name, and a man who has his own secrets) in order to debate the Christian stories with him.

I'll say no more, but this is a very easy read, with a very intriguing "What If...?" proposition at its heart. Some may find the theories controversial but i would recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in the subject matter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think, 14 Nov 2013
By 
Ms. Lorraine Mcpherson (Scotland, Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Name Was Judas (Hardcover)
If you're a devout Christian then you will not like this book. It's a novel which traces Judas Iscariot's life after the crucifixion. It's very well written and although fiction, it is totally believable. Not as I said, for Christians!!
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My Name Was Judas
My Name Was Judas by Dr C. K. Stead (Paperback - 1 Nov 2007)
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