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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

My Name was Judas


[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | links | about the author

To purchase My Name was Judas

Title: My Name was Judas
Author: C.K.Stead
Genre: Novel
Written: 2006
Length: 256 pages
Availability: My Name was Judas - US
My Name was Judas - UK
My Name was Judas - Canada
My Name was Judas - India
Mon nom était Judas - France
Mein Name war Judas - Deutschland
Mi nombre fue judas - España

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 18/11/2006 Jenny Diski
The Guardian . 22/12/2007 JH
The Independent . 10/11/2006 Peter Stanford
Independent on Sunday . 25/11/2007 Brandon Robshaw
The Observer . 11/11/2007 Helen Zaltzman
The Spectator . 22/11/2006 Jane Gardam
Sunday Times . 19/11/2006 David Grylls
The Telegraph A 26/11/2006 James Wood
The Times A 23/11/2007 Christina Koning
TLS . 1/12/2006 Tom Aitken

  Review Consensus:

  Most find it an interesting and successful effort

  From the Reviews:
  • "Stead writes a cool, reasonable prose; a flat, amiable tone matches precisely the almost uncanny lack of guilt of the man we see as most guilt-ridden. Not biblical, but quiet, sane, occasionally to the point of dullness, it only draws attention to itself when it steps into the modern idiom. (...) My Name Was Judas is a serious and largely successful attempt to reason the unreason of the Christ story. Stead maintains an eye unblinkingly opposed to the transcendental, but perhaps even confirmed atheists will occasionally wonder if, in its quotidian rationality, they are not missing out a little on the fun of speculation." - Jenny Diski, The Guardian

  • "A credible and very humane take on a cornerstone story." - JH, The Guardian

  • "The overall result is a pleasingly unpredictable mix of traditional and radical. This is, Stead seems to suggest, a plausible alternative gospel. What it lacks is any wider message of its own. Jesus, by Stead's account, was not quite as extraordinary as the usual presentation by the churches, but he was pretty remarkable. On the key question of whether or not he was truly divine, Stead, through Judas, enters an open verdict. It's clever, thought-provoking, but too much an exercise in theology. So I suspect that many readers will stick to the flawed gospels for their image of Judas." - Peter Stanford, The Independent

  • "This is a novel of ideas, but it is also alive with a sense of felt experience: the love of one person for another, the taste of cool water on a hot day and the sight of bats in the moonlight are phenomena which do not need supernatural add-ons. They are quite miraculous enough in themselves." - Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday

  • "What could be a ghastly, primary-school exercise is carried off with aplomb" - Helen Zaltzman, The Observer

  • "The novel itself is oddly disappointing. (...) Stead does paint a rather good picture of Judas meeting up in old age with Bartholemew and his weeping when he hears of the death — one by crucifixion — of Jesus’ brothers; but his insistence on the mistakenness of getting involved with such outlandish company stays solid. Judas, the plain man." - Jane Gardam, The Spectator

  • "(A) subtly potent revisionist account of the life and death of Jesus." - David Grylls, Sunday Times

  • "There are delightful vignettes throughout the book (.....) Written with glowing simplicity and rich in delicate humour, My Name Was Judas balances the attractions of empirical scepticism with our desire to believe in God and an afterlife. For a historical figure, Stead's Judas is stunningly modern, both in the way he continuously dismisses his instinct for belief in favour of empirical evidence, and in his deep dissatisfaction with the limits that this places on his view of the world. Stead's deft marshalling of the language, the way he gets words to do his bidding throughout without ever being obvious or showing off, only adds to the pleasure of reading this thought-provoking, witty and highly topical novel." - James Wood, The Telegraph

  • "It is brilliantly done, and in the end, quite subversive -- a retelling that impels one to turn again to the original." - Christina Koning, The Times

  • "Once, My Name Was Judas would have been a controversial book. Now we can read it as the compelling story of what might have happened to Judas, Jesus and the disciples. The events it describes, which are both well known and enigmatic, are seen through the eyes of a sceptic who struggles to maintain his scepticism while being profoundly puzzled by them." - Tom Aitken, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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My Name was Judas: Reviews: C.K.Stead: Other books by C.K.Stead under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       New Zealand writer Christian Karlson Stead was born in 1932. He taught at the University of Auckland and has written many works of fiction, poetry, and criticism.

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