“The Man Who Betrays God is the Stronger of the Two”

I’ve been reading some Yeats recently. In his short play, Calvary, Jesus is confronted by Judas as he walks with his cross:

Judas: I betrayed you because you seemed all powerful.

Jesus: My Father,

Even if now I were to whisper it,

Would break the world in his miraculous fury

To set me free.

Judas: And there is not one man in the wide world who is not in your power?

Jesus: My Father put all men into my hands.

Judas: That was the very thought that drove me wild.

I could not bear to think that you had but to whistle

And I must do; but after that I thought,

‘Whatever man betrays Him will be free’;

And life grew bearable again. And now

Is there a secret left that I do not know,

Knowing that if a man betrays a God

He is the stronger of the two?

It’s a strange play, from a strange poet, but this passage seems to encompass all the problems of free will and divine omnipotence so beautifully. I’ve yet to read Pete’s new book – funny, my complimentary copy just doesn’t seem to be forthcoming (the measly git) – but I wonder if we can see some of that fidelity in Judas’ thoughts here: subverting God, precisely because God ‘seemed all powerful’… and in that bizarre power-struggle of free will and knowledge, God allowing himself to be subverted. As I write in Signs of Emergence, I think Judas has been wrongly tarred by Christianity, and actually can serve as a very helpful, if troubled, mirror onto our own misconstructions of God and God’s power.


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2 responses to ““The Man Who Betrays God is the Stronger of the Two””

  1. gareth

    great quote kester – also ties in very nicely with what I’m writing on the moment about needing a weak theology (to use Caputo’s term)…
    don’t suppose you could email me the page number and which act from the play it is from? that would be helpful as I might use it to intro a section 🙂

  2. It’s literally a couple of pages – you can’t miss it. The other person Christ confronts is Lazarus, who chastises him for ‘taking his death from him’. It’s a very powerful piece.