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Jesus was Greek and Harry Potter is an angel

What your TV is telling you about Christianity

Need publicity for your show about God, Jesus and Bible stuff? Why not claim Jesus was Greek – not Jewish! – and the Tower of Babel was destroyed by aliens. Not God himself.

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Amazon Prime has scored news stories, tweets and pieces about its Bible Conspiracies programme. Along with its Jesus and Babel allegations, the provocative documentary series suggests Sodom and Gomorrah were actually razed by a nuclear explosion.

Sitcom Miracle Workers echoes Christian theology, though admittedly plays fast and loose with it.

Meanwhile, Stan this week premiered Miracle Workers starring Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe as Craig, an average angel who fights to save the world from destruction by God (Steve Buscemi). Seems God is the bored CEO of the universe and in something of a midlife crisis, so he decides to end his business with humanity.

Shooting for the same audience as Netflix’s The Good Place, sitcom Miracle Workers echoes Christian theology, though admittedly plays fast and loose with it. Series creator Simon Rich told Deadline Hollywood that his show’s version of God does not have unlimited power. “On our show he is not omnipotent,” admitted Rich, a statement in stark contrast with Jesus revealing “all things are possible” for God (see Matthew 19:26).

But it’s the claims of Bible Conspiracies that have stirred more responses. Created by documentarian Philip Gardiner, Bible Conspiracies has been criticised for lacking expert input or biblical knowledge.

“The history of Jesus has once again been disproven (and it’s not even Christmas time)!”

Popular Christian apologist John Dickson posted a response on Facebook, beginning with the tongue-in-cheek line: “The history of Jesus has once again been disproven (and it’s not even Christmas time)!”

Historian and author Dickson explained that Bible Conspiracies claims Jesus in the New Testament was actually based on a first-century “pagan philosopher-healer named Apollonius of Tyan”. The show’s suggestion is that the early Christian church suppressed Apollonius and endorsed Jesus – an idea swiftly dealt with by Dickson, author of A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus and the Life of Jesus series.

“By the time Apollonius died (around AD 100 at our best guess), ALL of the New Testament, including the four Gospels, were in public circulation,” wrote Dickson.

“But it’s even worse for this new conspiracy theory. We only have one source for Apollonius’ biography. It was written by the philosopher Philostratus around AD 220 at the urging of the famously anti-Christian Empress Julia Domna. This means that the ‘Life of Apollonius’ was composed not only 120 years after Apollonius himself, but 150 years after the first Gospels, and 190 years after Jesus of Nazareth.”

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A Doubter's Guide to Jesus

John Dickson

Available from Koorong

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