Home > Culture > The Judas Brief: Who Really Killed Jesus?

The Judas Brief: Who Really Killed Jesus?

The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc, New York, 2007
RRP $49.95

Reviewed by Alan Cook, a retired psychologist and a member of the Wavell Heights Uniting Church

The Judas Brief, written by a New York criminal defence attorney and president of the Biblical Archaeology Society of New York, seeks to refute the Gospel charges that the Jewish authorities pressured Pilate to have Jesus crucified thereby contributing to 2000 years of anti-Semitism.
His 200 plus page careful analysis of the biblical accounts and other evidence led him to the conclusion that the real villain of the crucifixion story is Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee, not Pilate.
Mr Greenberg also traces the politically advantageous attempts to shift the blame from Pilate to the Jews in general and Judas in particular.
He sees Judas as a trusted emissary who sought to arrange for Jesus to be kept under wraps during Passover thereby avoiding any civil disturbance resulting in Roman vengeance.
We are accustomed to the words “on the night on which He was betrayed” but Mr Greenberg questions this unusual translation of an original Aramaic word as “betrayed” when the more usual translation would have been “handed over”.
Also the common belief that Judas committed suicide from grief is contradicted by the account of his later death as a result of “his bowels bursting open” (Acts 1:18).
Some credence is given to Paul’s apparent belief that Judas remained in good standing as a member of the Twelve, at least for some time after the crucifixion.
The Judas Brief is essentially an historical analysis and theological symbolism and implications are not canvassed.
But it is a fascinating read posing deep questions about some of the basic concepts of Jesus and his mission.