This Toby Press thirtieth anniversary edition of the novel first published in the seventies may be appearing to take advantage of recent popular interest in Judas and other controversial New Testament topics. This book follows the career of Judas, the favored son of a great landowner, while his younger brother Jesus is sent off to be raised by poor, childless relations in Galilee. Our man is clever, educated—and utterly ruthless. He devises a plot to free his land of its Roman and Herodian overlords and take the reins of government into his own hands. When the plot goes awry, Judas schemes again, this time using his own dreamy brother to take eternal revenge against the worldly forces.
The new author’s preface is interesting for the insight it gives us into the younger man who wrote this book, his alienation as a Jew growing up among prejudiced American Christians. The bitterness of that life unrelentingly infuses our fictional hero; it is hard to take for any length of time. And alas, for someone whose address is Ra’anana, Israel, I would have hoped for a better sense of place and culture, something redeeming to slake all that bile. What I am persuaded we have instead is a portrait of an angry young man of the ´70s for whom kinky sex and violence is normative.