This is the press release we’ve crafted for Derek Murphy’s new book, Jesus Potter Harry Christ: the fascinating history of the literary Jesus. Will post it all over starting next week. What do you think?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Fictional Jesus? New Book uses Harry Potter to question Historical Jesus
At the beginning of the J.K. Rowling’s internationally popular phenomenon, Harry Potter was first viewed with suspect, and then damned outright by religious conservatives claiming that Rowling’s stories encouraged children to embrace witchcraft. The fallout from this controversy has included law suits, worker strikes, book burnings, and several campaigns to educate Christian families against the evils of Harry Potter. The “boy who lived” became Jesus’ arch-nemesis: the icon or rallying point behind which infuriated Christians could gain support (and a much needed platform) against a society embracing vampires as boyfriends, witches as heroes, and monsters as merely misunderstood. None of this slowed the success of Harry Potter, whose books, and then the movie franchise produced by Warner Bros, have been both an unchallengeable model for marketing strategy and economic success, but also an integral part of the lives of millions of fans who have watched Harry grow up – and grown up with him.
As we reach the end of this journey, the final coming of Harry Potter is being treated as Messianic; blogs are calling the release of the first installment of Harry Potter 7 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I) “A historic event”. However, the tension between Jesus and Harry has not been forgotten. A few extremist groups continue to burn books or protest movie openings or mount the pulpit in frothy defense of Christianity against the madness of modern culture’s obsession with wizardry; but at the same time, the general Christian stance towards Harry Potter has taken a profound shift after the publication of the final book, in which Harry dies a sacrificial death, is tortured using the Cruciatus curse, and has an afterlife experience of sorts at “King’s Cross”. Potter then comes back to life and triumphs over his evil adversary, Voldemort. These motifs have guided many Christians to ask whether Rowling didn’t consciously craft the Harry Potter story after the Passion of Jesus Christ. Is Harry Potter a Christ-Figure? In fact this question had been asked by sharp-minded readers since the early days of Potterdom. Many bloggers correctly guessed that the details of Harry Potter’s life would mirror at least the sacrificial death of Jesus. In 2002 Beliefnet.com hosted an online debate between several scholars who had published books on the subject, called “Harry Potter, Christ Figure”? Now that the 7th book has been released, these early musings have been justified; especially in light of several comments by Rowling herself to the effect that she knowingly crafted parts of her story around the biblical story of Jesus Christ. Suddenly preachers are making headlines, not for burning Harry Potter, but for championing him. Harry Potter is claimed to be a Christian story, which parallels the story of Jesus Christ and thus can help open a dialogue between Christians and the broader public.
A new book however claims that the only difference between the Harry Potter and Jesus Christ is that Jesus has traditionally been regarded as historical; a view the book aims to undermine. Titled “Harry Potter Jesus Christ”, the book explores the similarities and relationship between Jesus and Harry, and also what it calls “the fascinating history of the literary Jesus”.
According to the publisher, the book is “not mainly about Harry Potter but about religious history, astrological mythology, esoteric symbolism, and the literary tradition of Jesus Christ. The title of this book merely refers to the central claim of this book, which is that Jesus Christ and Harry Potter have a lot in common; most exceptionally, the fact that they are both literary constructions, or in other words, fictional characters
The author, who studied theology on the island of Malta and is now in Asia getting a PhD in comparative literature, says “I’ve always been a huge potter fan – I love Harry Potter – and as I was doing my research into religious and esoteric literature I discovered so many parallels between Harry, Jesus and even older sources; I actually did my MA thesis on the mythical influences in both Harry Potter and biblical literature.”
“I’ve always been a huge Potter fan,” said author Derek Murphy, who studied theology on the island of Malta and is now completing his PhD in Comparative Literature, “and as I was doing my research into religious and esoteric literature I discovered so many parallels between Jesus and Harry; I actually did my MA thesis on the mythical influences in both Harry Potter and biblical literature. What is fascinating, especially in light of the controversy surrounding the Harry Potter books (that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft and Satanism among children, etc.), is that these similarities mostly come from pre-Christian sources.”
About a dozen other books on the relationship between Jesus and Harry Potter have been published, mostly by Christian authors eager to help smooth the tension between the popularity of Harry and the conservative communities who denounce him. Jesus Potter Harry Christ, however, is a game-changing book, which argues that the similarities between Jesus and Harry do not make Harry more “holy” – they just make Jesus more obviously fictional. “The real question we need to ask,” the book argues, “is not whether Harry Potter is a ‘Christ Figure’ (similar to a historical religious savior), but rather whether Jesus Christ is a ‘Potter Figure’ (a composition of redemptive mythological symbols and philosophies).”
According to one early reviewer, “As part of the continuing debate over the nature of Christ, not only among Christians but between them and today’s wave of atheist thinkers, Jesus Potter, Harry Christ is timely. Linking this analysis, moreover, to J. K. Rowling’s globally popular character further heightens its relevancy.”
The book will launch on December 21st (winter solstice and the author’s birthday). Free review copies are available to the press on the website, www.jesuspotterharrychrist.com
Jesus Potter, Harry Christ; Holy Blasphemy Publishing; ISBN-10: 1456378198