“Iscariot,” by Tosca Lee – A book Review

I haven’t used this blog for book reviews but I could NOT pass the opportunity to do so after having read “Iscariot,” by Tosca Lee.

This is a book I was hesitant to read but I am so glad I did.

First, I say first as if there will be a second but there really isn’t, I admire Lee’s extensive research that went in to writing this novel.  I love to read historical fiction.  So, her time dedicated to getting details right is impressive.  I think I read she spent about 3 years but I could be wrong.  I simply don’t recall at the moment.

I can also appreciate it when she said she ran away from writing this book but I’m glad she did. I felt the same way about reading it. Some old, stodgy, paranoid Christian in me said I shouldn’t entertain such thoughts that Judas just might be in heaven or that he could be forgiven. I grew up believing Judas was in hell for selling out Jesus but…

I am Judas.

My sin killed Jesus. I put Him on the cross just as much as Judas did.

Lee’s book took me to the scriptures, made me question my beliefs in a good way and brought me closer to the humanity of Jesus. I enjoyed the idea of Judas’ history – what brought him to that fateful decision and how that could have played out in his mind. I liked reading about the friendship between these two men and especially witnessing the miracles Jesus preformed through Judas’ eyes.

Many Israelites were thirsty for the Messiah to come. Judas dared to hang all his hopes on this one man. He turned his back on the laws that were SO ingrained in his being and I liken it to the feeling of being naked and so vulnerable.  It was a huge risk with his soul to follow Jesus but he did.

(Who are you without your beliefs, your God or your family?  What holds you to this earth if you do not have that?  Judas to a risk.)

When this half man/half God didn’t live up to his expectations it was cataclysmic.

I was reminded that Jesus was also limited by his humanity. My God, Jesus on earth, had the deepest well of compassion, strength and love but in “Iscariot” Lee shows how taxing the people’s demands could be on a man and how disappointing it could have been to Jesus for the constant demands for a sign.

What did that look like to his disciples? I think Lee sheds possible light on this.

Even today so many Christian thirst for our Messiah to return. So many Christians demand a sign. How different are we from Peter? or Judas? or the Israelites?  If God could forgive us before we were even born to sin, could He not forgive Judas?



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