Sunday, April 09, 2006

judas priest

what does this expression mean, "judas priest"?

my dad used to say it when he was angry with me, which is to say, often. but not being a church-going kind of family, i was short on context to determine exactly what he meant.

other than, "you're in trouble, mister."

now, it seems, there's a whole new "gospel according to judas" to help me figure it out. perhaps.
"I think it's much ado about not exactly nothing but much ado about not much at all," said the Rev. Jim Bretzke, chairman of the theology department at the University of San Francisco.

"It's well known that in the time of the early church, there were a number of different accounts of the life of Jesus," Bretzke said. "The church decided that some of those accounts were truly inspired by God. Those are the Gospels we have in the New Testament. Not every letter was included. So, this is another example of what we call an extracanonical account."
sidebar, your honor: who decided which accounts were "good" and which were "bad"? the church? in other words, people with extracanonical agendas? hmmm, isn't that divine...

but it doesn't answer my little query. nor is a google search particularly enlightening. lots of hits for the eponymous band, of course. and this...

Anything that is morally beyond the pale has often been ascribed by Christianity to Judas.

He is a serial murderer whose victims include his father, killed so that Judas can have sex with his mother.

'Judas the Jew', with his hooked nose and bulging purse (one of the gospels tells us Judas was the treasurer of Jesus's movement), is a stock character in medieval mystery plays and in paintings of damnation found in ancient churches.

[Or], as Monsignor Walter Brandmuller now says, Judas may just have been the victim of the longest-running miscarriage of justice ever, a potential patron saint for all those who have been libelled, imprisoned or damned unjustly.

If Jesus could forgive his betrayer, [Brandmuller] says, we should be able to follow suit with all who betray us.
yes, but if judas were merely a foil in someone's morality play, how culpable can he be? if, as it's been suggested, judas was just following orders from god, he's in the clear. right?
The Rev. Alan Jones, dean of Grace Cathedral on San Francisco's Nob Hill, believes it's always good to have another voice from the past. "There are people who are literalists who will say this proves this or that," Jones said. "To me, it proves nothing. It proves that someone wrote a manuscript. It was written more than a century after Jesus and Judas died. Why was it written, and what did the person want to say? Those are interesting questions without easy answers. Religion, like history, is untidy."
religion is untidy? that'll come as news, i bet, to bible literalists all over the world. and how, philosophically speaking, is the judas manuscript any different than the gospels that didn't end up on the cutting room floor?

and what in the name of god does this have to do with my father saying "judas priest" as prelude to a beating?

as with most things metaphysical and metaphorical: beats me. i'm sure he acted with my best intentions in mind. a variation on the judas kiss, if you will.

at the end of the day, and the end of the post, the Barnhart Dictionary of American Slang proclaims thusly:

JUDAS PRIEST interjection by 1914. An exclamation of surprise, dismay, emphasis, etc. [a euphemism for ‘Jesus Christ’].

yeah, that seems about right.

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