April 8: spy wednesday

I heard the term Spy Wednesday for the first time this week. It is today, the Wednesday of Holy week, and refers to the underhand apostleship of Judas, spying on Christ before his eventual betrayal on Good Friday. First usage, as far as I can make out, 15th Century.

Judas is a peculiarly modern figure. Dante has him in hell. The New Testament has him punished in this life and the next for his act. And yet, as Thomas de Quincey amongst many others pointed out, Judas’ betrayal is part of God’s plan. Without it, the great process of our so-called salvation would not unfold. He is, then, pivotal to the necessary crucifixion of Jesus, which opens up the gates of the kingdom of heaven to us all. The so-called lost gospel of Judas, written perhaps in the first century AD, makes this connection explicit. Judas is an active participant in god’s plan. With or without his own agency. So should Judas not be saved? Indeed sanctified or beatified? His understanding was greater than Peter’s, who blunders through the New Testament constantly goofing and getting hold of the wrong end of the stick: sinking on the Lake of Galilee; misunderstanding the Transfiguration; denying Jesus three times in the Garden of Gethsemane. Actually, Judas is a perfect protagonist for peoplearerubbish. Maybe not so rubbish after all.


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