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Comparing Crime And Punishment And The Bible

3142 words - 13 pages

 
The use of doubles is prevalent in the writing of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He uses this device to force comparison and discernment between characters and modes of behavior. In Crime and Punishment, the character Svidrigaylov serves as a dark double to Raskolnikov. While both are tainted by the sin of their crimes, the latter finds redemption, while the former find only despair and suicide. This pair of criminals closely parallels another famous set of doubles: the apostles Peter and Judas. Although each member of these two pairs commits the same crime as his double, only one finds redemption. Dostoyevsky's text and the gospel accounts indicate that humility and self-effacement are the key elements of salvation.

            The first pair for this discussion is Peter and Judas, about whom is written have the least information and who are therefore the easier pair to analyze. First, it is important to note that the gospels were written by authors sympathetic to Peter and not to Judas, so Judas should be given the benefit of the doubt in some cases. Peter and Judas were both given positions of authority among the apostles. Peter was called to be the spokesman and Judas carried the purse. Judas chose to betray Jesus. We are unsure what his reason was, although Luke tells us that "Satan entered into Judas." 1 Judas may have been acting out of self-preservation if he suspected that the end was near for Jesus anyway. Quite possibly, Judas agreed with Caiaphas and felt that it was better "that one man should die for all the people." 2 It is ironic, and a good example of Johannine humor, how right Caiaphas was ? one man died, Christ "by whom we are set free." 3 Judas received 30 silver coins from the chief priests in payment for his crime.

            At the last supper, Christ predicts that one of the twelve will betray him, saying "how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!" 4 Does this then mean that Jesus was unwilling to forgive his betrayer? Was Judas doomed to suicide? I maintain that Jesus also knew that Judas would approach salvation the wrong way, not that it was impossible. In Lukeís gospel, the above declaration is followed by Judas foolishly shirking Jesusí warning by saying "surely Teacher, you donít mean me?" 5 This arrogance shown by Judas was his damnation. This self-reliance prevented his salvation. Only one gospel records Judasí death. It is surprising to note that Judas does confess his guilt. I feel that the passage is significant enough to quote in full.

When Judas, the traitor, learned that Jesus had been condemned, he repented and took back the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned by betraying an innocent man to death!" he said.

"What do we care about that?" they answered. "That is your business!"

Judas threw the coins down in the Temple and left; then he went off and hanged himself. 6

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