Portland, July. 2nd, 2011 – Although the religious controversy over JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series was a hot topic several years ago, as the 8th and final movie (Deathly Hallows Part II) comes out this month Christians and nonbelievers will collectively gasp in awe at the thrilling conclusion of this epic story. But a new book by comparative religious scholar Derek Murphy claims that the real threat of the HP series to Christianity has yet to be recognized: the similarities between Jesus and Harry Potter – which should be explicit in Harry Potter 8 – reveal that Jesus may also have been a literary construct (in other words, a fictional character).
To promote his revolutionary claims, Murphy is preparing to wear a full Jesus Christ costume (wig, fake beard, tunic, sandals) and burn all 7 Harry Potter books at the local premiere of the movie, in a bid to grab some attention to what continues to be a controversial topic. While dozens of books have been written about the similarities between Jesus and Harry Potter, Murphy feels that his book will go down in history as the definitive reference book for the religious implications and impact of the Harry Potter series.
“I’ve been researching Christian history and comparative religion for over a decade and I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter books,” the author said, “but I have to say the religious responses to Harry are way off the mark. Other authors have looked at the similarities between Jesus and Harry (heralded by prophecy, called the savior or chosen one, dies a sacrificial death but returns to triumph) and claimed that Harry Potter is a Christian story, or is based on the Bible. While this is not untrue – there is something much larger going on in the literature. The question we should be asking is why the purportedly historical Jesus Christ has so much in common with the obviously fictional character of Harry Potter? How do we separate Jesus’ miracles from Harry’s magic? How do we distinguish historical events from mythology? And what stops us from making the claim that Jesus is, like Harry, a fictional construct?”
Apparently, nothing. Murphy’s book, a veritable tome of academic research with over 150,000 words and hundreds of citations, re-opens the debate on the existence of Jesus Christ as a historical person by viewing him through the lens of literary criticism, taking Harry Potter as a constant point of contemporary reference. Although most people consider the evidence for the existence of Jesus to be overwhelming and conclusive, Murphy traces the evolution of the ideas that began centuries before Christianity into their final, biblical forms.
“Currently biblical scholarship has a death-grip on the historical Jesus because, without him, they have nothing to study; scholars need a historical Jesus to give their research meaning. However, the Jesus they believe existed already has too little in common with the Jesus in the gospels or the savior of Christianity. The gulf between popular ideas about Jesus and what the evidence and scholarly consensus implies is incredible – I simply took it one step further. Is it possible to remove the historical Jesus altogether and still explain the writing of the Bible, the martyrs, the rise of the Church? Yes! In fact the evidence makes more sense and is much more convincing when we get rid of the idea of a real man linking it all together. Christianity was a syncretic blending of many different traditions that emerged in the melting pot of the Greek and Roman Empires. Not only is a historical Jesus not needed, based on the evidence, he’s highly improbable.”
To promote his book, “Jesus Potter Harry Christ,” Murphy is preparing to dress in Jesus garb and attend the opening of the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II, where he may burn the 7 Harry Potter books. He’s also considering using Craigslist to hire a small army of individuals to do the same. “I know this is just a research book about religious history that many people simply aren’t interested in” said the author, “but I think a broader understanding of the history of religious literature is fundamental in the future of our society. If it falls on me to do something a little crazy in a desperate grab for attention, so be it.”
Jesus Potter Harry Christ was released early in 2011 by HolyBlasphemy Press. For a free download of the first four chapters, visit www.jesuspotterharrychrist.com
What do you think?
Should either books be burnt? Which would draw more controversy? Who would win in a fight between Jesus and Harry Potter?