Cover Like Judas
series "Saggi"
pp. 328, Brossura, 978-88-15-15047-9
publication year 2011


Like Judas

Common People and Economic Games in the Early Modern Era

Since the beginnings of the Christian era the most alarming feature concerning Judas has been the inadequacy of his economic behaviour, not his betrayal. What kind of man would exchange the infinite value for Christ for the paltry sum of thirty pieces of silver? Judas thus became the negative prototype of people who ignore the authentic value of things: Over time, in the Middles Ages and the Modern Era, Judas came to exemplify misapprehension of how the market and the economy work. On the other hand, Mary Magdalene, who "wastes" a valuable balm in order to anoint Jesus's head, became a symbol of proper, far-sighted economic behaviour, aware of the difference between petty, private interest and the social uses of wealth. The implications of this opposition can be seen in the social exclusion codes which characterize European economic modernization and feed the shame of ordinary people, whom Judas fundamentally represents.

Giacomo Todeschini teaches Medieval History at the University of Trieste.