Reportedly the #1-selling book in Ireland in 1991, the same year that U2 wrote and recorded the Achtung Baby album containing the song “Until the End of the World”, was by Irish poet/literature professor Brendan Kennelly. Entitled Where Would We Be Without Judas?, it proposes that the dawn of Truth must follow the darkness of Sin like two different sides of the same coin. In our In the Studio interview about the making of Achtung Baby, the Edge admits that U2 lyricist Bono, in particular, was intrigued by Kennelly’s assertion that, “To serve the Age, you must betray it”, finding in Judas Iscariot‘s worldly politicking and ultimate betrayal a notorious yet absolutely necessary role in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy by Jesus Christ.
To truly appreciate the lyrical dialogue that runs throughout “Until the End of the World”, it is imperative that the listener understand that the singers’ (plural) perspective changes every time the stanzas do. The singer in the first stanza is Jesus; the singer in the second stanza is Judas; and in the final stanza, it’s you and me.- Redbeard