n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Motivating the great betrayal in Egon Fridell's

Volume 41, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1273



In 1923 the eminent Viennese philosopher, playwright, cultural historian, and theatre critic Egon Friedell turned to what by then had become an evergreen theme in European literary history by publishing his Judastragödie as an alternative explanation of what had motivated Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. In doing so, he swam vigorously against a stream of modern efforts to rehabilitate the reputation of that despised character. Jewish in origin but a convert to Christianity of a post-orthodox sort, Friedell explored his theme against the background of first-century Judaism, which he portrayed in a deprecating light, one chapter in a long saga of materialism which was incompatible with the spirit of Jesus. It is argued that Friedell's contrarian interpretation manifested various weaknesses which rendered his portrayal of Judas self-contradictory and arguably implausible.

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