Friday, October 20, 2006

Poem about Judas Iscariot

During a game of trivial pursuit I once came across a question which asked, "What colour hair did Judas Iscariot have?" I have read my Bible in and out and back to front and never come across the colour of Judas' hair. With great curiosity I flicked over the card and learnt, to my surprise, that the answer was "red". I spoke with Marvin Meyer in Budapest sometime ago and he confirmed to me the legend that Judas was a red-head. (For those that do not know me, you should know that I am a red-head).

Given the recent Judas frenzy with the publication of the Gospel of Judas and the several ensuing books by Marvin Meyer, Bart Ehrman, Tom Wright and (soon) Simon Gathercole, I thought I would include reference to a poem about Judas that I found in the book by Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart called At the Cross.

In Hell there grew a Judas Tree
Where Judas hanged and died
Because he could not bear to see
His master crucified
Our Lord descended into Hell
And found his Judas there
For ever haning on the tree
Grown from his own despair
So Jesus cut his Judas down
And took him in his arms
"It was for this I came" he said
"And not to do you harm
My Father gave me twelve good men
And all of them I kept
Though one betrayed and one denied
Some fled and others slept
In three days' time I must return
To make the others glad
But first I had to come to Hell
And share the death you had
My tree will grow in place of yours
Its roots lie here as well
There is no final victory
Without this soul from Hell"
So when we all condemned him
As of every traitor worst
Remember that of all his men
Our Lord forgave him first

D. Ruth Etchells
Beirut, January 20, 1987

I'm not advocating the entire theological package here, but it's a nice poem and fits in snugly with the recent Judas frenzy of media and scholarly attention.

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