Saturday, August 20, 2005

The God Who Wasn't There

I ordered the DVD and soundtrack from the official website
and it arrived a couple of days ago. I think it was put together very well altogether--the soundtrack, visual effects, and content are all very good.

It starts with the question that if the church was wrong about the solar system, could it be wrong about something else, namely Jesus?

Next there is a brief overview of the story of Jesus, making use of some footage of dramatizations of the gospels. A brief, but thorough and accurate overview, as I remember it. Except for the comments that Jesus mysteriously "disappeared" for most of this childhood and then from when he was 12 to when he was 30, this bit could have been put together by a Christian.

Next he deals with how the history of the early church came together. He makes the point that there is a few decades gap between when the Gospels were supposed to have taken place, and when they were written. Also, he talks about Paul and how we know nothing about the history of Christianity other than the letters of Paul in those decades. And that Paul only saw Jesus in a "vision" and that he appears not to have even been aware that Jesus was ever a flesh and blood human being. I dunno if this is accurate, I'd have to check the sources.

The only complaint that I can think of is a verse from Hebrews (8:4) that was ripped from context to be used as evidence that Paul didn't know Jesus was ever an actual human. This is problematic for me since I've heard that Paul didn't even write Hebrews (I think no one knows who did, which is problematic in itself.) Anyway, this point was the only bit of the movie that I objected to. Mainly because any evangelical Christian who watches this movie would probably latch onto that objection and simply not see the rest of show . . .

Because the rest of the show is great! My favorite bit is the comparison of the story of Jesus with the conventions of folklore hero stories, and with the stories of pagan god-men that came before him. Even stuff like being a son of a God, having virgin birth, being crucified, and being raised from the dead, and then ruling with a God figure are found in mythologies of pagan god-men like Dionysus. As far as I can tell, this is the best evidence that the story of Jesus is mythological. For more information try the Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth link (in the sidebar to your right).

The rest of the movie is mostly an inditment of the fundamentalist church in America. Things like fundamentalist rants by people like Pat Robertson about how America must be brought back to God, and by someone else about how homosexuals ought to be put to death, and a book burning are shown. There is also an interview with the webmaster of, and one with the principal of the fundamentalist Christian school in which the director of this film was taught to love God and fear hell.

This was a great film! For it's controversial subject matter I even found it to be very well reasoned and respectful. This is no ranting diatribe against Christianity, just an expose of historical evidence and the personal experience of the director which is contrary to what the teachings of fundamentalist Christianity.

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