Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

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.


2 responses

  1. Akshata

    I have been wanting to see this movie, but have never gotten around to it. I like how you pointed out that Jesus was “humanized” in the unconventional movie; instead of showing Jesus in a relatively “immortal” light, he is portrayed as a human like the rest of his followers. It is also interesting to note the change in perspective in the movie, since Judas is the narrator. I think it’s interesting how they turn the movie around and that we get both sides of the story.

    May 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm

  2. ler884

    I enjoyed the ideas about a more human-like jesus. It is true that most of Jesus’ followers were common people who led no extrodinary lives. For Jesus to be seen as a more human character would make him more accessible to these kinds of people and as you said, imply even more divinity in his prescence for remaining steadfast and sinless even through his human ways.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:36 am

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