Author's Superman-as-Christ Comparison Ruckus-Stirring
- Monday, July 17, 2006
Title: "The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero"
Author: Stephen Skelton
Publisher: Harvest House
For most of us, the story is all too familiar. A being descends from the heavens in the form of a child. Raised by adoptive parents, the child grows in stature and strength, leaving his rural upbringing to become a savior to the world.
It is the origin story that Christians and comic book fans everywhere know by heart. It is the story of Jesus Christ. But, it also happens to also be the story of Superman. In his new book, "The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero," author Stephen Skelton argues that the similarities between the two extend far beyond the Savior's and the superhero's origin. What Skelton delivers in this 163-page comparison, that has stirred quite a ruckus, is more than just another reaching parallel between the Bible and popular culture, but a genuine argument on how much of Superman mirrors and points to the Son of God.
Skelton stops short of saying that Superman is a modern type of Jesus, but makes a strong appeal for the symbolism of the Savior in the character. Skelton begins by building an argument for the comparison, addressing the purpose behind Superman's creation. Most super-fans know that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two teenagers who created the character, were Jewish. The young creators acknowledged that their Jewish heritage did play a part of the creation of the character, borrowing from a number of biblical and non-biblical figures. And even with the influence of the philosopher Fredrick Nietzsche's on the characters title, Skelton argues that despite the Christolic similarities being unintentional on the part of the creators, the fact that they were unintentional does not discount the similarities themselves when discerned for meaning. As long as all truth is God's truth and the truth of the issue is that Superman's story mirrors and points to life of Christ laid out in the Gospels, then why not make the comparison?
Having established grounds for his argument, Skelton illustrates the comparison over the some odd seventy years of history of the character. Examining interviews with artists and creators, quoting writers, actors, and directors of the various films, radio shows, and television series, Skelton points out a number similarities and intended imagery used over the years that has made the man of steel a Christ-like figure. He also goes on to look at now infamous storylines such as The Death of Superman, A World without Superman, and the Reign of Superman, and compares the events and characters these collections with figures and events of the death, burial, resurrection, and return of Christ. Skelton then wraps up the book by briefly analyzing how Superman's characteristics are distinctly Christ-like and not as overwhelmingly coherent with the any other religious leader as they are with Jesus.
The book is an entertaining read for any super-fan, Christian or not. The book has stirred up controversy in certain circles but does not intentionally set out to. While Skelton walks a thin line, he does so with a wide-eyed reverence toward the plethora of creative influences that has helped to mold the man of steel over the years, especially in regard for Superman's creators. On his own website he admits that he is just trying to legitimize and consolidate a debate that has been going on since before he ever threw in his two cents.
Jesus himself used modern symbols and relatable subject of his day to communicate the Truth of His Kingdom. Skelton aims to do no more than that, making the comparison between a modern symbol and the Messiah and in so doing, communicating Truth.
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