London, Feb 15 (ANI): Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams' documentary on why Judas betrayed Jesus has met with controversy.
Judas Iscariot's motives for betraying Jesus with a kiss 2,000 years ago have been argued by theologians, but now a British academic has given credit to Adams, 61, for a new insight into one of the most controversial passages of the Bible.
Adams, who spent a lot of his youth "on the run" from the Army in Belfast yet still swears that he has never been a member of the Provisional IRA, investigates the life and death of Jesus Christ, against the backdrop of his own life and career.
He believes that Judas was turned informer by the Roman security services of the time in Palestine, just as many of his former comrades in the Republican movement were induced to spy.
"Sometimes I was in tune with the Jesus message and sometimes not," Times Online quoted Adams as saying cryptically of his own past.
His views will be shown in a Channel 4 documentary 'The Bible: A History' on February 21. But even before it has aired it is creating a storm of controversy among many victims of IRA violence.
"Asking Gerry Adams to speak about love and forgiveness is like asking Myra Hindley to lecture on child-minding. I think it's a big mistake and completely misguided," Victor Barker, whose 12-year-old son James was killed in the 1998 Omagh bombing, said.
"Channel 4 is being used by Mr Adams. It is offering him a platform for doing what he does so well, of coming across on camera as a genuine, peaceful person who wants to promote peace and love," she said.
Willie Frazer, who runs a victims' group, said that the prospect of Adams featuring in a documentary about the Bible and forgiveness was disgusting.
"Would the victims of 9/11 accept a programme where extremist Islamic terrorists were allowed to frame their actions in terms of religion?" he asked.
The documentary, in which Adams travels to Jordan, Palestine and Israel, also includes his first meeting with Alan McBride, whose wife was killed in the IRA bombing of a fish shop on the Shankill Road in 1993.
Adams, who carried the coffin of an IRA man who blew himself up in the attack, calls the Shankill bombing "stupid" and McBride acknowledges that the Sinn Féin leader has played a role in ending the terrorist campaigns.
Helen Bond, senior lecturer in New Testament language, literature and theology at the University of Edinburgh accompanied Adams on his journey through the Holy Land.
Dr Bond said Adams "spent hours arguing whether first-century Galilee was 'occupied' and the meaning of 'democracy' in ancient societies".
"Judas's betrayal was another area where Gerry's perspective helped me to see things rather differently," she said on her blog, adding that she had always approached Judas intellectually.
"Gerry instinctively understood the defection of a 'gang member'. 'Yeah, that's what happens,' he said, 'they got to him'.
"I had thought of Judas's betrayal as something active, something he chose to do, rather than a situation he was forced into, perhaps (and quite likely) under duress.
"The general outline of events is historically plausible, a historicity made even stronger by its clear resonance with the way groups (on both sides) were infiltrated and betrayed in Belfast," she added.
Meanwhile, Jim Allister, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice, called on Channel 4 to pull the programme because of allegations made in a recent documentary over Adams' role in a cover-up of the sexual abuse of his niece by her father, his brother Liam. (ANI)