The chosen picture is The Kiss of Judas by Leonard Bramer. It is a significant piece of art, given the notability of the event depicted. It should be noted that this picture’s content fully reflects its name. The faculty member, John Thiede, provided a brief but exhaustive interpretation of The Kiss of Judas. The professor states that the viewer may consider the mentioned painting from two different angles – Jesus’s and Judas’s. Thiede claims that the captured event may lead to the following reflections – the character of Jesus’s feelings, given the fact that he knew he was to be betrayed, the meaning of the symbolic kiss, and the emotions of Judas. The professor also stresses the wide range of feelings that Judas could have experienced. Finally, Thiede says that the painting can lead to thinking about the relationships with the clothest ones, betrayals, and personal fidelity to the faith. It seems reasonable to state that an anthropological vision that appears here is that all people are social creatures who are inevitably involved in the relations with each other, given the thoughts that The Kiss of Judas may cause, according to Thiede.
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Taking into account the abovementioned vision, it might be assumed that Thiede’s claims are related to the concept of catholic communitarian personalism. The latter implies that the notion of personalism “affirms the dignity of each human being as made in the image of God, morally free and accountable, and bearing intrinsic rights and duties” (Heyer et al., 2008, p. 63). Then, according to Heyer et al. (2008), Personalism is ‘communitarian’ when it acknowledges each individual as a ‘person in relation’ who is only able to flourish as a member of a community” (p. 63). At last, communitarian personalism is catholic when its essence is defined by the sacramental state of mind that is founded on taking part in the church’s life. Thiede reasonably emphasized the fact that the painting should be considered within the social context – approved norms and morality. Indeed, the depicted Christian scenario is based on the issue of betrayal, as well as many other possible societal aspects that exist within the scope of interpersonal relations, which is implied in the notion of catholic communitarian personalism. However, in order to reflect on The Kiss of Judas in the framework of this concept broadly, Thiede could have given more social background – in particular, he could provide the features of Judas’s story and possible interpretations.
Iscariot was attracted by Christ’s preaching about the coming Kingdom of God. The apostles were from the simple families of Israel; Judas was from the privileged one. Of course, he wanted to be with the coming Messiah as the most legitimate heir to the power of the future kingdom. During the time with Jesus, Judas looked closely at the Teacher, comparing Him to the image of the prophet. In Israel, there was and is a school carefully and constantly studied the signs of the coming Messiah. Since Judas was entrusted with the cashier, then, obviously, he knew the account and was the most literate among the apostles. One can easily imagine his attitude towards fellow fishermen. The feeling of being chosen could also play a role in Iscariot’s disappointment and betrayal. Judas soon became convinced that Christ’s speech about the Kingdom of Heaven had nothing to do with liberation from Rome. Jesus’s constant opposition to the Pharisaic tradition should have further increased the suspicions of the pragmatic disciple. Judas decided that Christ was an impostor, or a harmless impostor on whom he could make money, or someone strange, able to take power and who needs to be pushed into this by provocation. The painting shows the final act of Juda’s betrayal, causing a variety of feelings in the viewer. It makes us reflect on the diversity of reasons why Judas acted in such away. Was it for mercantile purposes, or maybe it was a specific expression of love? What stands behind the betrayal at all? The scenario also makes the viewer project these and many other questions on their own life.
Heyer, K. E., Rozzel, M. J., & Genovese, M. A. (2008). Catholics and politics: the dynamic tension between faith and power. Georgetown University Press.