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one of the most complex characters in the Gospels, lived and died in
a time of political and spiritual unrest. In his search for answers,
he found Jesus Christ. But what led Judas to betray the man he
called friend and Messiah? ABC's interpretive dramatization Judas
covers the two years Judas spent with Jesus.
The story begins at the foot of a cross, where eight-year-old Judas
witnesses the crucifixion of his father, an event that will change
the young boy's life forever. Many years later we find Judas (Johnathon
Schaech), now aged 30, working as a wine seller and living with his
widowed mother, Rohab (Suzanne Bertish). Captured by hooded men and
taken to The High Priest, Caiaphas (Bob Gunton), he is called an
"agitator" and warned that rebellion will not be allowed to
jeopardize the political movement.
Later still, in the Jerusalem temple, Judas looks on disdainfully as
Roman tribune Flavius (Owen Teale) exchanges money with Caiaphas.
Judas tells his two co-workers, Jeshura (Danny Scheinman) and
Eliakim (Elliot Levey), that Caiaphas betrays Jews by collaborating
with the "Roman bloodsuckers," declaring that it's time to
retaliate, and that they can't wait forever for the prophesied
Messiah to lead them from bondage. But then he encounters Jesus
(Jonathan Scarfe) in the temple and, after witnessing Jesus'
confrontation with the moneychangers and vendors, Judas becomes
convinced that this is the man who will lead his people to victory.
Judas and eleven others become disciples of Jesus, following the
Messiah throughout his public life and witnessing many miracles
along the way. But Judas is increasingly troubled by Jesus'
declaration that his kingdom is "not of this world." Though the
apostles are beginning to distrust Judas, Jesus continues to love
him and even gives him a position of
authority as the keeper of the purse.
Caiaphas continues to meet with Judas, warning him to keep Jesus
from starting any trouble and promising that they can "work out
their differences." Judas, for his part, still believes that Jesus
is ready to wage war against the Romans.
After visiting with his ailing mother, Judas returns to Jesus and
the apostles. He understands now that Jesus is not heeding his
counsel and, with his concern and disappointment growing, becomes
more entangled with Caiaphas and his attempts to stop Jesus.
Betrayal is at hand: When Pilate (Tim Matheson) meets with Caiaphas,
he declares that his soldiers will arrest Jesus. Judas identifies
Jesus to them, which leads to the arrest and ultimate death of the
man he once called friend. Jesus is promptly taken prisoner,
tortured and killed.
Realizing the consequences of his betrayal, a despondent Judas takes
his own life, as James, Peter and Andrew find him later hanging from
a tree. They take down the body and pray for Judas' soul, Peter
reasoning that "He (Jesus) would've wanted us to."
Judas is the final project of the late Father Ellwood "Bud"
Kieser, C.S.P. — founder of the Humanitas Prize and Paulist
Judas is executive-produced by multi-Emmy Award-winning
writer/ producer Tom Fontana, who also wrote the screenplay. Frank
Desiderio, C.S.P., President of Paulist Productions, also serves as
executive producer. The film, under the Paulist Productions banner,
is directed by Charles Robert Carner. Ann Wingate is the producer.
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