Aside from doing the blog here, I do Secular Web Kids where the fictional Darth Harley is the mascot. I thought I’d talk about that process a little, so upcoming will be a new Darth Harley video about Jesus and satire. I talk about this topic in my critique of penal substitution essay AND my mythicism and penal substitution essay – I’ll introduce some new material about Jesus and satire in the video, specifically around Socrates and Aristophanes’ “Clouds.” So you can get a feel for this, here is the early stage script of the conversation between teacher Ed and Darth Haley, Havanese Hell Hound and Bark Lord Of The Sith:
E: So boys and girls, today in “READING BETWEEN THE LINES” we were talking about some of the silly things in the story of Jesus that lets us know the writer is making fun or doing a “parody” of Jesus’s world. Can anyone give some examples? Harley?
DH: Sure. Some of the more silly ones are:
- All the Jewish customs the trial broke, like the nonsense of the high Jewish council meeting on Passover eve …
NB, on the ridiculous illegality of what is portrayed as happening to Jesus, see:
- How foolish the disciples were being portrayed, where the disciples in Mark are portrayed as intentionally clueless to contrast with Jesus and as comic effect for Jesus as the comedy straight man in the satire. Mark demonstrated Jesus’ exasperation and frustration with his disciples for their slow comprehension and their minimal development of faith and spirituality. Obviously, the real disciples weren’t that clueless, their portrayal in the gospel is just part of the satire/parody Jesus is caught up in.
- Cruel Pilate letting Barabbas, a known killer of Romans, go free to please the crowd.
- Jesus attacking the temple and not getting arrested even though guards would have been there to prevent just such a problem
- The whole story leads up to Jesus’ death but the result is people wondering why he died so quickly
(In fact, it was the absurdness of the absurdities in Jesus’ life that points to a deeper figurative meaning)
E: Good, so what is the writer doing with all this nonsense?
DH: I guess Jesus is like a straight man in a comic routine poking fun at his society. He meets his unfair death because of the disciples who abandoned him, a “quick to turn on people crowd,” a bad Jewish elite, and a leader Pilate who didn’t put Justice first.
E: Does this make you think of anyone else?
DH: It’s like Socrates. I did some googling and here are just some of the similarities that I found between Jesus and Socrates:
- Both were considered outsiders and were persecuted by the establishment.
- Neither left writings, but their followers did.
- Neither advocated violence, but rather worked through a peaceful grassroots movement.
- Both willingly and resolutely faced death.
- Both exposed hypocrisy among the ruling establishment.
- Both ministered to the common people.
- Both were unjustly accused of crimes against God and were condemned.
- Jesus was sinless; Socrates had impeccable character.
- Both had prophetic utterances spoken about them concerning their mission.
- Both could have escaped death but didn’t.
- Both of their deaths were purposed for a greater good.
E: Excellent, but what else do we learn about Socrates from those who made fun of him?
DH: Well, Aristophanes’ “Clouds” makes fun of Socrates for being silly, but it’s interesting Plato said this “parody” or caricature of Socrates was partially responsible for his death. Aristophanes has Socrates run the Thinkery. The Thinkery is a school for wastrels and bums which no self-respecting, athletic young man dares to be associated. Strepsiades explains that students of The Thinkery learn how to turn inferior arguments into winning arguments and this is the only way he can beat their aggrieved creditors in court. Socrates is presented in The Clouds as a petty thief, a fraud and a sophist with a specious interest in physical speculations. The ruler Cleon is also made fun of in the play, like Aristophanes also did in his play The Knights.
E: The whole world is falling apart and is in need of wonderworker Jesus. So, we can see the Jesus story as exaggerating the ridiculousness of Jesus’ world to show how much Jesus was needed. Just as Aristophanes exaggerated and made Socrates the source of ill in society, the New Testament writers exaggerated the evil in Jesus’s world to overemphasize Jesus’s importance.
DH: I guess this is even more evidence Jesus existed, because just like Aristophanes’ parody makes less sense if Socrates didn’t exist, it wouldn’t make much sense for an exaggeration of evil around a central figure Jesus if that person never fell prey to the evil of the world. The form of the writing is satire and they are real people being satirized as main characters. Just as the negative parody in Aristophanes’ “Clouds” contributed to getting Socrates killed in real life (according to Plato), the gospels did the opposite and spread the good news of eternal blessed life for all people because God would raise them like he did Jesus despite how ridiculous the world is.
So, I’ll share the finished video once it comes out, but below here is a previous 5 minute Darth Harley interview: