Echo of Reformation: Alternative Christianity in Literature and Cinema

Elena Stepanova


Gradually, critical studies of the New Testament went beyond the limits of academic research, and became the subject of artistic reflection in numerous works of fiction and documentary literature, music, art, and cinema. The objective of the article is to analyze some of these works in their specific historical-cultural context. The author examines main themes, problems and controversies of the New Testament criticism, which has influenced its reflection in the works of art: the “anthropological turn” in Western theology of the XIX century, the principles of hermeneutics, biography of Jesus Christ genre in the light of the problem of “historical Jesus”, etc. The conclusion is made that the outcomes of New Testament criticism are the dissolution of the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable content and genre of the interpretation of the life of Jesus, as well as giving full play to alternative artistic versions. “Gospel” chapters of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”, rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and Paul Verhoeven’s book “Jesus of Nazareth” are used as examples. The context of contemporary socio-political and theological discussions, as well as the impact of different versions of the New Testament criticism over these works, is analyzed. The author concludes: the argument that the New Testament is primarily a piece of literature calls into question the difference between original version of the gospel story and its artistic interpretations. Consequently, the authors of the latter, in accordance with their particular convictions and context, seek to discover their own meaning of the original story.


New Testament criticism; hermeneutics; interpretation; context; “The Master and Margarita”; “Jesus Christ Superstar”; “Jesus of Nazareth”; League of the Militant Godless; Jesus People; Jesus Seminar.



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Copyright (c) 2017 Elena Stepanova


ISSN 2521-179X (Online), ISSN 2415-783X (Print)