“Batman & Jesus” Documentary

Batman & Jesus is an almost two-hour documentary that tries to draw parallels between stories about Batman and stories about Jesus to make a case for the Christ myth theory–the claim that Jesus was not a historical figure.

The video cuts back and forth between straightforward defenses of the Christ myth theory from Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier, David Fitzgerald, and others that are interspersed with a discussion among “self-proclaimed Batman experts” about the Batman canon.

Just as Batman’s mythos over the years have resulted in numerous contradictory stories, movies, and video games, so have what were considered canonical stories of Jesus’ life both changed and been re-interpreted over millennia.

The leap the film wants viewers to make is obvious– just like Batman, the earliest stories about Jesus were nothing more than “literature based on myths,” as Price puts it mid-way through the documentary. The central claim seems to be that stories about Jesus consisted of rewritten and updated versions of older stories from Jewish, Roman, and other traditions. This is supposedly similar to the way that someone like Frank Miller took existing Batman mythology and updated it into the much grittier and violent “The Dark Knight Returns” that better reflected and appealed to the mid-1980s comic book audience

The Christ myth theory is a fringe theory, and “Batman & Jesus” gives some insight into why.

The documentary gives a lot of space to debunking contemporary views of Jesus, and implies that if these contemporary views are wrong then Jesus must be ahistorical.

For example, since the New Testament says little about Jesus’ physical appearance believers have often depicted him as appearing like them. But the fact that many contemporary churches where I reside depict Jesus with blonde hair and blue eyes does not make Jesus ahistorical, any more than John Wayne’s ridiculous portrayal of Genghis Khan in The Conqueror renders Genghis Khan ahistorical.

Similarly, Fitzgerald repeats his claim that the reason the Christ myth theory is not more widely accepted is because most Biblical scholars are Christians. This is a common ad hominem that Fitzgerald uses, and isn’t helpful even if taken at face value since many prominent Biblical scholars are not Christians.

As a piece of film, the structure is certainly interesting and creative, but the thesis is wholly unconvincing.

The Descent of the Modernists Cartoon by E. J. Pace

This cartoon by E. J. Pace was published in 1922 as part of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy that swept Protestant denominations in the United States. According to Wikipedia,

At issue were foundational disputes about the role of Christianity, the authority of Scripture, the death, Resurrection, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Two broad factions within Protestantism emerged: Fundamentalists, who insisted upon the timeless validity of each doctrine of Christian Orthodoxy, and Modernists, who advocated a conscious adaptation of religion in response to the new scientific discoveries and the moral pressures of the age.

Descent of the Modernists by E. J. Pace
Descent of the Modernists by E. J. Pace

World War I Propaganda Poster: Jesus Blesses the German Army

World War I-era propaganda poster in which Jesus blesses the German Army as it passes by. 

The German text translates to,

Go on soldier! And fulfill your duty! Christ, the good shepherd watches over his flock. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.

World War I Propaganda Poster - Jesus Blesses the German Army
World War I Propaganda Poster – Jesus Blesses the German Army

The Posthumous Trial of Pope Formosus

The posthumous trial of Pope Formosus (816-896 BCE) reads like bad fan fiction. According to Wikipedia,

Jean-Paul Laurens, Le Pape Formose et Étienne VII (“Pope Formosus and Stephen VII”), 1870 (note the latter is now called Pope Stephen VI)
Pope Stephen VI, the successor of Boniface, influenced by Lambert and Agiltrude, sat in judgment of Formosus in 897, in what was called the Cadaver Synod. The corpse was disinterred, clad in papal vestments, and seated on a throne to face all the charges from John VIII. The verdict was that the deceased had been unworthy of the pontificate. The damnatio memoriae, an old judicial practice from Ancient Rome, was applied to Formosus, all his measures and acts were annulled and the orders conferred by him were declared invalid. The papal vestments were torn from his body, the three fingers from his right hand that he had used in consecrations were cut off and the corpse was thrown into the Tiber (later to be retrieved by a monk).

Following the death of Stephen VI, Formosus’ body was reinterred in St Peter’s Basilica. Further trials of this nature against deceased persons were banned, but Pope Sergius III (904–911) reapproved the decisions against Formosus. Sergius demanded the re-ordination of the bishops consecrated by Formosus, who in turn had conferred orders on many other clerics, causing great confusion. Later the validity of Formosus’ work was re-reinstated. The decision of Sergius with respect to Formosus has subsequently been universally disregarded by the Church, since Formosus’ condemnation had little to do with piety and more to do with politics.

Bartolomeo Platina writes that Sergius had the much-abused corpse of Formosus exhumed once more, tried, found guilty again, and beheaded, thus in effect conducting a second Cadaver Synod, while Joseph Brusher says that “Sergius [III] indulged in no resurrection-man tactics himself” and Schaff, Milman, Gregorovius, von Mosheim, Miley, Mann, Darras, John the Deacon of Naples, Flodoard, and others make no mention of this story.

Christ, Not Cryptocurrency

I have no idea if this is legitimate or not, but somebody has created Christ Coin, “the first pre-mined Christian-based Cryptocurrency.”

Where does the value come from?

Christ Coins are simply a points system.  Because this point system is block chain based, the points can be traded on markets as tokens. People can buy and sell these tokens, or hold for an increase in purchasing power.

Obligatory joke here about Jesus expelling the prime number traders from the temple.