Jesus Christ Superstar
Judas Iscariot is traditionally viewed as the antagonist in the story of Jesus Christ. Judas, a man who would betray his own divine Lord with a kiss in exchange for money, could be the epitome of heartlessness and to this day is infamously the symbol of betrayal and unforgivable sin. However, in 1970, Andrew Lloyd Weber and lyricist Tim Rice turned this conventional view of Judas inside out and depicted the Jesus story through the eyes of Judas, rather sympathetically, in their rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. In Superstar, Judas is the narrator, being forced to witness a man, Jesus, whom he admired, spiral into self-righteousness and contradictions. This shift in perspective sparked controversy as many Christians objected to the apparent “humanization” of Jesus. He is seen, not unlike other men, as easily frustrated, angry, and tired. But exactly how much is Jesus “humanized”? A depiction of Jesus that is, in a way, “too human” easily strips of his divinity, making Jesus Christ Superstar a sacrilegious work. But to a certain extent, showing a human Jesus would still agree with certain Christian doctrine, namely the idea of the Hypostatic Union, the belief that Jesus was both fully divine yet completely human. It is easy to quickly tag Superstar as sacrilegious, but by taking a closer look, it can be seen that Superstar focuses on Jesus’ humanity without taking away his divinity. Jesus is often tempted in Jesus Christ Superstar like any human, but unlike any other man, Jesus never crosses the line from temptation into sin. A more human depiction of Jesus makes him more accessible, which is what Weber and Rice create. We understand his frustration, anger, fears and temptation and can marvel at how Jesus, a man like us, suffered under every temptation, yet still lived a sinless life.