Tosca is a fantastic writer. I first read her when she joined up with Ted Dekker for their fantastic series Books of Mortals. When I saw the opportunity to get Iscariot for free through NetGalley, I jumped on it.
Judas is a name that makes Christians cringe. On one hand, had Jesus not been crucified, we wouldn’t have salvation. But accepting that our savior was betrayed by a loyal follower is not easy, and finding any sympathy for Judas is difficult. So I went into the story with a little bit of trepidation, and came out of it with a very different viewpoint of these historical and spiritual events.
Tosca did a huge amount of research to make sure that she got things right. However, she admits that she moved a few things around on the timeline to make the story work (although it seems like these aren’t incredibly significant changes). I felt like I was there, and learning about Judas’s life (or what his life could have been like) before becoming a follower of Christ was fascinating.
The most eye opening thing was learning about what living under the law was really like. At one point, Judas wants to enter the temple, craving closeness to God. However, he had been in the same room as a dead body that day, and no rituals could make him clean enough to be able to enter. He had to wait. So when Jesus comes along, Judas so desperately wants Him to be the Messiah – and it’s finally understandable how Judas could feel backed into a corner and forced to make the decisions he made.
What if Judas wasn’t the villain? What if he was tricked into the betrayal, thinking that the outcome would be far different and he was actually doing the right thing? Naive, maybe, but it was interesting to consider that perhaps Judas didn’t have the black heart we think he did. Maybe he didn’t think the life of Jesus was worth 30 pieces of silver. Maybe he wasn’t greedy, or evil.
Maybe he was. But Tosca portrays a new way of thinking about these important events, which is extremely interesting. She might have gotten everything wrong, but in the end, that doesn’t matter all that much because it was an extremely well written and interesting book.