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  • The Place of Judas Iscariot in Christology
  • Kim Paffenroth
The Place of Judas Iscariot in Christology. By Anthony Cane. (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.2005. Pp. viii, 211. $94.95 cloth.)

This work is an exploration of how one's evaluation of Judas has much broader implications for Christology and the whole view of salvation. Cane's special contention is that one's views on Judas must deal with the tension or interplay between providence and tragedy in Judas' life and actions: at their extremes, either he was destined or even foreordained by God to betray Jesus and suffer eternal damnation (all providence, no tragedy, and a very uncomplimentary view of God), or he freely but inevitably chose to do so (all tragedy, no providence, and a way that seems to put him and his fate outside of God's providence, control, or saving influence). According to Cane, there can be no resolution to this tension, but any truthful or helpful analysis must reckon with or acknowledge it.

After an Introduction laying out the basic argument and its parts, the author discusses Judas in the New Testament in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 unpacks the fundamental tension of providence and tragedy by examining the works of Karl Barth and Donald MacKinnon. The following four chapters then connect certain aspects of these two theologians with earlier thinkers to create two theological camps with a range of interim positions variously weighing providence and tragedy in the matter of Judas. The writers so treated in these chapters include Origen, Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome, Aquinas, Rupert of Deutz, Jonathan Edwards, John Donne, Luther, Dante, Borges, and Balthasar. Cane concludes with a brief discussion of how Christology must face, even if it cannot resolve, this tension. The work also includes a bibliography and index, as well as an appendix of notes made by Frances Young on unpublished lectures by MacKinnon.

As readers may know, the subject of this work is of particular interest to me, so I am a most congenial and enthusiastic supporter of the work and of its conclusions, which I think rightly alert readers to the rich and difficult dynamics in what may be to most a misleadingly familiar and straightforward biblical tale. At the same time, my work on this topic forces me to note that at several places the author goes over material that is given a similar treatment in my Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple (Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), and he does so without acknowledgment. I am not making an accusation of an improper use of sources, but simply noting that Cane has not adequately consulted and cited secondary sources in general; he similarly fails to cite, or only very inadequately cites, the other well-known works on Judas—e.g., Klassen, Maccoby, Halas, etc. Throughout, one would get the impression that Cane's is the first book on the subject, when, of course, it is not, even if it takes a new and illuminating approach to the topic. This lack of proper consideration of and dialogue with other works is an unfortunate oversight in a work that is otherwise thorough, and thoroughly fascinating.

If the author is to be mildly chided for a lack of thoroughness in consulting and citing secondary sources, his analysis of primary texts is instinctive, lyrical, [End Page 270] and subtle. The basic insights of this work are not only sound; they are vital, challenging, and should be pondered by all Christians, not just specialists. Thankfully, the writing of the book is mostly accessible to non-specialists, and I would encourage all to take up and read this important and fascinating treatment of Judas.

Kim Paffenroth
Iona College


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