The former manager of UCLA’s Visualization Portal, Pieter Lechner, sent me a March 27th Associated Press article about a TV documentary titled “Jesus: The Complete Story.” The documentary will be broadcast by the BBC in three parts beginning April 1 and by The Discovery Channel in its entirety on April 15.
A computer-generated image of Jesus’ face was created by a forensic artist based on the 2,000-year-old skull of a Jewish man discovered in Israel. “The result is a dark-skinned, curly-haired man with a round, robust face and a stout nose,” a reconstruction that challenges the fair-skinned, fine-featured Jesus images common in western civilization.
However, the documentary goes beyond the image question. It also asks “whether Judas betrayed Jesus to the Roman authorities, suggesting that a mistranslation could mask the fact that Jesus worked with Judas to provoke his own arrest.”
I applaud efforts to shake us from our stereotypes of Jesus. The attempt to reconstruct Jesus’ skin color and facial features is positive and laudable. However, I have strong doubts about the suggestion that Jesus collaborated with Judas to bring about his arrest and resultant death.
A careful study of the Gospels and Acts shows that Judas’ motive for betraying Jesus was quite mundane—the love of money. As the Book of Acts tells us (Acts 1:18), Judas used the money he received to buy a field, probably because he wished to live his life as a wealthy landlord rather than do the backbreaking work required of a day laborer. It was on this “Field of Blood” that Judas soon met his death.