Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cinematic Versions of Jesus Christ


An interesting bit in next week's Radio Times, about the various screen images of Christ. Apparently this is going to be explored in a Channel 4 documentary by theologian Robert Beckford.
He has put down eight different types of Jesus, represented on the screen.

The Rock Opera Jesus - See Jesus Christ Superstar

The Marxist Jesus - See The Gospel According to St Matthew

The Evangelical Jesus - See the Jesus film

The Hollywood Jesus - See The Greatest Story Ever Told (That's the one with John Wayne as the Centurion at the foot of the Cross)

The Official Jesus - See Jesus of Nazareth (The one with Robert Powell and a favourite of mine)

The Not-the-Messiah Jesus - See Life of Brian (and he wasn't even called Jesus, he was called Brian Cohen, who was mistaken by many as the genuine article and who was a very naughty boy)

The All-Too-Human Jesus - See The Last Temptation of Christ

The Fundamentalist Jesus - See The Passion of the Christ (Which was not anti-semitic, or indeed as provocative as was stated! Very violent though, and you have got to hand it to them for doing the dialogue in the original aramaic and latin!)

One of the things that comes to my mind, and does bother me when looking at all of this, is that we all have a habit of making Christ in our own image. We also tend to read the Bible on face value, or read it to suit our own agendas. For example, many point to the violence in the Old Testament, whereas one could also point to The Good Samaritan in the New Testament, or indeed the Psalms in the Old Testament. All complex and thought provoking nonetheless, but what is the crux of my faith is not whether Jesus was marxist or fundamentalist in the way some in the US believe, it is the fact that I believe that two-thousand years ago, God in human form decided that he would take the rap for all the bad things you and I have done. Whether we accept that is another matter, and then one goes into the realms of theological debate, but that is what I simply but firmly believe, whether you find it offensive or not!


Skuds said...

It missed out my favorite Jesus, and a complete archetype:

The female Jesus, as seen in Dogma, for my money the best religious film ever.

Paul Burgin said...

Ah, but Beckford didn't list that! Life of Brian is quite good though ;)

Annie Porthouse said...

yes, this is interesting. I looked at this sort of thing as part of my theology degree, but it's easy to forget! I think we should keep an eye out in church that we're not over-emphasising any one aspect of God or Jesus. And yes, I feel the feminine attributes of the Godhead are neglected far too often, which is sad!

Paul Burgin said...

I think the feminine attributes may well be neglected out of fear on how people may interpret, or rather misinterpret them! But you are right, it is sad