Friday, April 10, 2009


It's Good Friday, one of the more somber days in the Church Calendar, marking the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. (It is believed this took place in the year 33 AD.)

One of the key figures in the events leading up to the Crucifixion was the apostle who betrayed him, Judas Iscariot - for thirty pieces of silver.

For the "As Seen On TV" feature on Good Friday, we have Judas Iscariot as depicted in the 1977 mini-series 'Jesus Of Nazareth':

The portrayal differs from tradition in that Judas is depicted as being of black hair. According to legend, Judas was red-haired. Ruth Mellinkoff wrote about the history of that legend and here's an excerpt:

There is nothing in the Christian Bible that indicates anything distinctive about the physical appearance of Judas. Yet at least as early as the ninth century, artists developed devices and motifs for pointing out the traitor.

That red hair or beard would be thought fitting for Judas is borne out by the ancient and continuous aversion to red hair and ruddy skin. The age-old dislike of red hair is testified to as early as ancient Egypt, associated with the evil god Seth, known to the Greeks as Typhon. A disdain for red hair in the Greco-Roman world is displayed in the red-headedness and red wigs designated for the figure of the slave in the comedies.

The red hair and red beard theme is scattered profusely through the literature of many periods and places. Many theories have been advanced to explain the dislike of red hair, or to promote that dislike:

1) Red hair was disliked because of its association with the color of foxes;

2) Red hair was disliked because of its connections with the red beard of the pagan god Thor whose attributes were transferred to the Christian devil;

3) Red hair was disliked by the English and Irish because it was attributed to the conquering Danes;

4) Red hair was disliked in non-Germanic places simply because it was less common;

5) Red hair has been disliked because it is a mutation or arrested development or degenerative characteristic.

I played Peter in a passion play once back in high school for the CYO. I probably should have been cast as Judas, since my hair was a deeper shade of red back in those days.....

Besides, the bad guy is always more fun to play!

Toby O'B

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