Search Results

Richard Walsh

Abstract

Jesus films improve the Judas story by adding plot connections and amplifying Judas' character, but their Judases reprise "the Gospel according to _" pattern. Like Jewison's Judas, they all are part of the adoring Christian chorus. Films' selective uses of the gospel Judas incidents intensify the gospel exclusions. Judas remains the traitorous disciple who deserves his fate. Films' visuals continue the iconography of art and create interlocking scenes associating Judas with Jesus' opponents. While some films motivate Judas traditionally, others modernize Judas' motivation in order to create a simulacrum of a modern person. Regardless, Judas remains the mythic other whose exclusion separates us from the evil that we do not wish to accept as part of our self-identity. Films' Judases define what "we" are not. We can arrange the Judases of Jesus films into four types: a traditional Judas, a modern, human Judas, a Christ-figure Judas, and a parabolic Judas. The first two Judases are clearly part of Christian myth-making. While the Christ-figure Judas may suggest an antimyth opposing the Christian myth, it ultimately supports Christian mythology as well. Only the parabolic Judas contests the continuing power of Christian discourse by telling stories alongside "the gospel" story. The parables of Arcand's Daniel and Jones's Brian suggest a view askew on Christian discourse that invites us to read other Jesus films and the gospels themselves parabolically and to find the evil lurking and the "dark night of story" within Christian mythology.

Richard Walsh

This article reads Jesus’ baptism in Mark as an experience of possession akin to that of the demoniacs. It suggests several possible readings of Mark in light of this baptismal possession: (1) as a story of heavenly rape similar to that of the Lukan Mary’s overshadowing by the spirit; (2) as a story like the possessed of cinematic horror; (3) as a story of a colonial holy warrior’s enthusing possession by the spirit and subsequent dispossession and failure vis-à-vis empire; and (4) as a story of one entrapped by an obsessive script. The readings’ cumulative effect is a different perspective on the Markan Jesus’ first and last words – the announcement of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:14) and his final lament (15:34, 37) – than is common in Markan scholarship. The sayings become descriptions of Jesus’ possession and the subsequent loss of that spirit.


Richard Walsh

Abstract

This essay examines three different attempts to realize visionary experiences aesthetically: New Testament authors' depictions of Paul's conversion; Caravaggio's paintings of the same; and Bill Paxton's cinematic depiction of the horrific visions of a modern day seer in Frailty. The resulting aesthetic objects are not all realistic, but they all have the potential for an imperial impact upon their audiences' realities. The New Testament accounts of Paul's conversion are not realistic. They are mythic assertions of divine authority demanding obedient belief. Bill Paxton's Frailty contemporizes similar demands in its horrifying account of apocalyptic visionaries and violence. While the film does not offer a specific interpretation of Paul's conversion, its realization of apocalyptic visions raises important reservations about any imperialist vision, even that of the canon. By contrast, Caravaggio's paintings of Paul's conversion are far less imperialistic. While the chapel location of and the use of light within the second Conversion of St. Paul confer mythic authority upon it, the realistic, contemporizing of the episode in the painting itself demands interpretation, not simple belief. Before it, one is responsible for what one chooses to believe more obviously than one is before the New Testament accounts of Paul's conversion or the visions of Paxton's Frailty.

Richard Walsh and George Aichele

Abstract

This essay examines the recent movies Avatar and District 9 in conjunction with the so-called "transfiguration stories" of Matt. 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9. It explores the difference between "transfiguration" and "metamorphosis" in these stories, and questions the avoidance of the latter term in English translations of the New Testament, as well as theological implications of the preference for "transfiguration." This tendency is already observable in the ideological dimensions of the New Testament. That the net effect of this translation preference is to obscure monstrous changes to the body of Jesus is made clear through contrast with the movies, and with Franz Kafka's story, "The Metamorphosis."

Christopher Walsh and Richard Price

George Aichele, Peter D. Miscall and Richard Walsh

Abstract

We read together the story of David in 1 Samuel 16-2 Kings 2 and that of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. They both begin outside the main power structure, the kingdom of Saul and the crime family, and then rise, often through the use of violence, to the top: King and Don. David’s decisive slaying of Goliath is matched by Michael’s assassination of Sollozzo and McCluskey. After the killings both are now recognized as serious “players” in their respective structures. As they move up the power chain David and Michael, as characters in biblical narrative and modern film, are haunted by the possibility that their stories could have been different: the innocent young shepherd and the decorated Marine. Both could be separate from the violence and corruption of Israelite monarchy and of the Corleone family.

Gwinyai Henry Muzorewa, Richard Gray, Vincent Harding, J.A.B. Jongeneel, Brian L. Fargiter, John J. Walsh, George Lemopoulos and Jan-Martin Berentsen