A/N- more serious than other things I have written, but I needed to let off steam. If you have no interest or knowledge of the Christian religion, you may be bored or confused.

My Latin teacher likes to talk about the injustices the Jewish people have suffered, rather than teach us, I don't know, Latin. Not to say that learning about the hardships of the Jewish people, who have suffered more heavily than most other groups throughout history, is not important, but Latin class does not seem to be the place to discuss this. Unfortunately, another student got our Latin "teacher" started on "The Passion" and our Latin "teacher" told us she was convinced of its "anti-Semitic" undertones, though she hasn't seen it. Politely, I responded and said that I had seen it, and that there really wasn't any anti-Semitism involved at all. In fact, I told her, the only truly "evil" people were the Roman soldiers. She then went into a condescending tirade about how I, as a Catholic, am not sensitive to anti-Semitism and therefore cannot comment, nor should any other non-Jewish person.

While there are plenty of arguments to take up with that skewed logic (If the only people "sensitive" enough to notice anti-Jewish undertones are Jews, then why would people be turned to anti-Semitism from the movie, if they can't notice it in the first place?) the issue that I wanted to respond to her most was her telling me later on in the argument that Judas, a figure in Jesus' life that has always fascinated me, probably didn't exist and was only added to put more blame on the Jewish people. At the time I was just nodding my head politely and pretending I agreed with her because I did not want to be disrespectful (she still is a "teacher" even is she fails horribly at it) I have realized that the only place to vent my frustrations and help people to understand that nature of Judas and his character is outside the classroom.

Judas is considered, among much of the people in the Western world, to be the prime example of a "sinner" and what "not to do". From scripture, we can assume that he was far too often accusing others, as with the case of the woman who washes Jesus' feet with her hair and expensive oil, and that while his heart possibly was in the right place (he does suggest that all the money from the oil could have been used for the greater good) he seems to constantly miss the core messages of Jesus' teachings, including the importance put on loving each other and worrying about helping people today and waiting patiently for change. He is painted as a "greedy" character, as he is the treasurer in Jesus' group, and he also later accepts silver to condemn Jesus, and this image of a money hungry sinner was certainly wrongly used by the Christian establishment later on to condemn Jews, who also handled money in medieval times.

My Latin "teacher" asserted that since Judas is a "sinner" who "killed Jesus" he is merely a fictional character created so that Christians could take what Judas had done and apply to all the "greedy Jews". But to believe that Judas was "damned" for killing Jesus is to misunderstand the very nature of the story and exactly what we are told Judas did.

According to the Bible, Judas makes a deal with the Jewish religious leaders to hand Jesus over to them for thirty pieces of silver. While the motive has never really been clear for this, (would someone hand over to death a benevolent teacher and friend for thirty pieces of silver?) that is all the information given. After seeing Jesus and how they have treated him, Judas is overcome with a fit of guilt and repentance, and "he.returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." (Matthew 27:3-4) It is obvious to the reader that Judas is sorrowful and certainly asking for forgiveness. We are then told that Judas hangs himself, and the reader generally interprets this as Judas' entrance into Hell and it is also assumed by many that Judas' most ruinous sin is his part in the murder of Jesus. This is untrue, and a belief that Judas is "damned" because of that shows a lack of understanding about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus.

Jesus said that anyone who is sincerely sorry for his or her sins would be forgiven. There is little doubt that Judas was sincerely sorry for his sin of helping to murder Jesus. He is so sorry and disgusted by himself that he cannot go on living, and the suicide he commits, not the murder, is his most harmful sin. Judas had obviously repented for his sin of killing Jesus, and anyone who understands the Christian religion knows that Jesus forgave him even as he was dying on the cross. But Judas, with his constant inability to understand Jesus and the depth of Jesus' love for humanity, could not fathom that he could be forgiven for his sin. It is that lack of faith that was his downfall, not his murder of Jesus, and it is this point that is so often ignored. So, if Judas is guilty only of killing himself, and he at least attempted to be forgiven for killing Jesus, than it is impossible to use him to justify anti-Semitism. Not to say that he hasn't been used for that purpose, but it simply goes against what Christians know.

The argument of my Latin "teacher", (and whoever she got her information from) that Judas is simply there to evoke hatred towards Jews, stands on the idea that Judas was not ever forgiven for his sin, and that he is considered an "evil" figure for his murder of Jesus. How interesting, then, that she did not bring up Peter, and say that he also is an "imaginary" figure in the story. His role is much the same as Judas', at least the night of Jesus' betrayal. Peter, weak as he is, denies his belief in Jesus three times, and then repents after seeing Jesus, much like Judas. But my Latin "teacher" did not also use Peter because Peter is considered a "good" character and therefore could not have been "created" to induce hatred from Christians towards Jews. In reality, the only difference between Peter, the "undamned", and Judas, the "damned", is Peter's belief in Jesus' forgiveness, and Judas' disbelief. How convenient of my Latin "teacher" to ignore the similarities between the two figures and focus on the one helpful to her argument.

Basically, whether or not Judas was "created" is of no importance. If he was, we will find out for sure eventually. But asserting that he was "created" for the purpose of laying more blame on the Jewish people is absurd and shows my latin "teacher's", and others who share her belief, little knowledge the story of Judas or the Christian religion.