July 17, 2017 by AK
I read a brief excerpt from Amos Oz’s latest novel, Judas, this morning, then looked for reviews of the book and the author’s recent interviews. Here’s one from September 2016:
But as much as the young Oz was enthralled by Jesus, the story of Judas irritated him…
Nothing about it adds up. Judas Iscariot is meant to be a rich man, yet he performs his great act of treachery for just 30 pieces of silver… And why would Jesus’s pursuers need Judas to point him out via the unforgettable gesture of a kiss? The miracle-worker was already notorious in Roman Jerusalem…
Ash [the protagonist] presents a persuasive case that, far from being a betrayer, Judas was the truest believer in Jesus.
I’ve found two reviews in The Guardian as well as reviews in Haaretz, The Times of Israel, The Washington Post, The New Your Times, and The New Yorker. Also, a 2015 interview and another one from 2016. In this last one, Amos Oz says:
You see, I don’t have a bookshelf with my eternal beloved ones on it. They come and go. A few of them come more often than the others: Chekhov, Cervantes, Faulkner, Agnon, Brener, Yizhar, Alterman, Bialik, Amichai, Lampedusa’s “Il Gattopardo,” Kafka and Borges, sometimes Thomas Mann and sometimes Elsa Morante and Natalia Ginzburg.
Borges. None of the reviews and interviews mention Borges’ tour de force, Three Versions of Judas (Tres Versiones de Judas), published in 1944. That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I was reading Oz’s thoughts on Judas’ motives. There’s no way Oz was unfamiliar with The Three Versions when writing his own Judas.