John Shelby Spong - Judas Iscariot: Did He Really Exist? Was He a Person or a Symbol? Why Anti-Semitism roots in this Character

Tuesday, July 17th 2012, 3:00pm

Tuesday Night Talks at Pacific School of Religion

1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

Reception 7 PM, Lecture 7:30 PM

Free and open to the public

The person of Judas, called Iscariot, is normally portrayed as the anti-hero of the Christian movement.  He is painted in dark, sinister colors and his name has become a synonym for betrayal.  When does he enter the Christian story?  Is it possible that he is a literary character and not a real person?  In this lecture I will examine this character biblically and historically.  I will note his entry into the Christian story, trace the growth of the Judas tradition and examine the role he has played in the history of Anti-Semitism.  Finally, I will discuss why I do not think he ever existed.

John Shelby Spong has been an ordained priest and an elected bishop of the Episcopal Church for 54 years.  As a leading spokesperson for an open, scholarly, and progressive Christianity, Bishop Spong has taught at Harvard and at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also lectured at universities, conference centers, and churches in North america, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. He has authored 82 books which have sold over a million copies, including: A New Christianity for a New World, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and his autobiography, Here I Stand. During Summer Session, he is teaching Re-Claiming the Bible in a Post-Christian World.