Jesus in Fiction and Film

  • Professor(s): Dr. Darren J. N. Middleton
  • When: 2001
  • Where: Texas Christian University / RELIGION 30823:05
  • Source
  • For someone supposedly out of fashion, Jesus of Nazareth makes more than a few passing cameo appearances in the movies, novels, poems, and short stories of the last fifty years. Recognizing this recent trend, Religion 30823:055 examines how the figure of Jesus and the symbol of Christ has been appropriated by recent creative writers and filmmakers. Throughout the course, we will focus on the doctrine of the person (christology) and work (soteriology) of Jesus through such fictional works and films, as well as background theological readings. We will achieve this through four units.
    The first unit deals with biographies of Jesus. Here we will investigate how fiction and film retells the Gospel story, as set in first-century Palestine, in contemporary terms.
    The second unit explores how fiction and film uses the device of a minor New Testament character as narrator. Units one and two constitute the first half of the course.
    The third unit investigates a relatively recent and controversial phenomenon within the genre of Jesus fictions and films, namely, the trend towards the so-called "scandalizing" of the Gospels. Here we will focus on one allegedly "blasphemous" novella and one allegedly "heretical" film, exploring questions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy in light of modern theological attempts to focus on Jesus as the "scandal of particularity" (Karl Barth).
    The fourth and final unit analyzes how fiction and film presents and responds to cross-cultural images of Jesus (e.g., Canada, Denmark, Ghana, Japan, and El Salvador). We will pay particular and considerable attention to the question of what the doctrines of christology and soteriology look like from a global perspective.

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