The intention of the novel and the film adaptation is not to valorize apostasy, but to shed light on the reality that every Christian is, like Peter, asked, “Are you not also one of his disciples?”
By Dr. Thomas P. Harmon
Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence is a story meant to plumb the depths of themysterium iniquitatis by focusing on the character of Judas Iscariot and his relationship with Christ. Martin Scorsese underlines the theme of Judas’ betrayal in his foreword to a new edition the novel put out in advance of Scorsese’s film adaptation, in select theaters now. Endo has his protagonist, the Jesuit priest and missionary Sebastião Rodrigues, meditating on Judas for much of the book, mulling over in particular the perplexing line of Christ in John’s Gospel, after Satan had entered into Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (Jn 13:27). Rodrigues wonders in the novel what it could mean for Christ to tell Judas to betray him. His wonderings foreshadow the climactic moment in Rodrigues’ own life, when he must choose whether or not to place his foot on an image of Christ—thereby disavowing his Lord publically—in order to save the lives of Japanese Christians being tortured by the authorities in order to extort the priest’s apostasy.
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