Archive for the ‘The Messiah’ Category

The Apocryphal Jesus on Film

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

I have been trying to catch up on some news items I’ve been sitting on for a while. I’ll begin with some information on three apocrypha-related films.

The first is “The Messiah,” an Iranian movie that looks at the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. One of the sources used in the film, besides the Qur’an and other Muslim traditions, is the Gospel of Barnabas, a fourteenth-century Muslim anti-gospel hailing from Italy. Of interest in this text is the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Like several early Gnostic Christian texts (including the Apocalypse of Peter, Second Treatise of the Great Seth, and, according to Irenaeus, Basilides), Barnabas states that someone else was crucified in Jesus’ place. The full text can be read HERE, but here is an excerpt of the relevant section (ch. 216):

1. Judas entered impetuously before all into the chamber whence Jesus had been taken up. And the disciples were sleeping. Whereupon the wonderful God acted wonderfully, insomuch that Judas was so changed in speech and in face to be like Jesus that we believed him to be Jesus. And he, having awakened us, was seeking where the Master was. Whereupon we marvelled, and answered: 'You, Lord, are our master; have you now forgotten us?' And he, smiling, said: 'Now are you foolish, that know not me to be Judas Iscariot!'

2. And as he was saying this the soldiery entered, and laid their hands upon Judas, because he was in every way like to Jesus. We having heard Judas' saying, and seeing the multitude of soldiers, fled as beside ourselves. And John, who was wrapped in a linen cloth, awoke and fled, and when a soldier seized him by the linen cloth he left the linen cloth and fled naked. For God heard the prayer of Jesus, and saved the eleven from evil.

Read more about the film in an interview with the filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh HERE. A video clip is available from CNN HERE. Thanks to Jim Davila at Paleojudaica for the update.

The second is a documentary based on Paul Perry’s book Jesus in Egypt, released in 2003. It features Perry’s journeys through Egypt tracing the route of the Holy Family as sketched out in several apocryphal infancy texts (including the Arabic Infancy Gospel, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and a little-known text called the Vision of Theophilus) and local traditions. The documentary was completed in 2005 and is available from the official web site (HERE).

The third is a film adaptation of The Aquarian Gospel, a modern apocryphal text which first appeared in 1908 and is now in its 53rd printing. It traces Jesus’ life from the ages of 13 to 30, a time he is said to have spent as a wandering mystic in India. For more information on this production, click HERE.