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The Gospel According to Judas: Myth and Parable

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Jesus films improve the Judas story by adding plot connections and amplifying Judas' character, but their Judases reprise "the Gospel according to _" pattern. Like Jewison's Judas, they all are part of the adoring Christian chorus. Films' selective uses of the gospel Judas incidents intensify the gospel exclusions. Judas remains the traitorous disciple who deserves his fate. Films' visuals continue the iconography of art and create interlocking scenes associating Judas with Jesus' opponents. While some films motivate Judas traditionally, others modernize Judas' motivation in order to create a simulacrum of a modern person. Regardless, Judas remains the mythic other whose exclusion separates us from the evil that we do not wish to accept as part of our self-identity. Films' Judases define what "we" are not. We can arrange the Judases of Jesus films into four types: a traditional Judas, a modern, human Judas, a Christ-figure Judas, and a parabolic Judas. The first two Judases are clearly part of Christian myth-making. While the Christ-figure Judas may suggest an antimyth opposing the Christian myth, it ultimately supports Christian mythology as well. Only the parabolic Judas contests the continuing power of Christian discourse by telling stories alongside "the gospel" story. The parables of Arcand's Daniel and Jones's Brian suggest a view askew on Christian discourse that invites us to read other Jesus films and the gospels themselves parabolically and to find the evil lurking and the "dark night of story" within Christian mythology.


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