Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot : a comment on play

"The only person who needs forgiveness is the one who doesn’t deserve it"

A controversial play by Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, is a courtroom drama set in fantastical purgatory where Jesus’ New Testament betrayer, Judas Iscariot, is on trial. It wants to deliver the idea that even if Judas is guilty by earthly standards, there is a divine mercy that transcends justice.

Giurgis' method is to summon biblical and historical witnesses to argue the case for and against the catatonic Judas. Caiaphas the Elder is shown to be as morally reprehensible as the accused in handing Jesus over to the Romans. Mary Magdalene affirms that Judas was always Jesus’s favorite disciple. Of course, Judas is found guilty, but the final, moving image is of Jesus washing His betrayer’s feet.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is a play about the possibility of goodness. What Giurgis is saying is that we live in a wretchedly imperfect, hate-filled world in which the law is an instrument of revenge : beyond that, however, lies a vision of redemptive mercy.

< The Last Days of Judas Iscariot was originally posted online on March 3rd, 2005 >

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