The Fictional Jesus? Author Uses Harry Potter to Question Historical Christ: Claims Both are Literary Figures - Book Launch 2/15/2011

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Is Jesus Christ a Harry Potter figure? New book "Jesus Potter, Harry Christ" traces the religious controversy over the Harry Potter series, examines the Christian responses to J.K. Rowling’s character, and then explores the potential similarities themselves. It concludes by arguing the key variance between the two is that Harry Potter is obviously a fictional character, while Jesus Christ is almost universally accepted as a historical figure.

At the beginning of 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. 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, as well as 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 the 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 consciously included biblical symbolism into her magical tale. Is Harry Potter a Christ-Figure?

In fact this question has 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. 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 copied 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.

And yet according to the new book "Jesus Potter Harry Christ" the most fascinating question has so far been ignored: Why do these similarities exist at all? Although it is easy to accept that Rowling crafted the literary character of Harry Potter after the figure of Jesus, shouldn’t it pique our interest that Jesus – a monumental figure in modern world religion generally believed to have been historical – has so much in common with the obviously fictional fantasy world and character of Harry Potter?

"Jesus Potter, Harry Christ," traces the religious controversy over the Harry Potter series, examines the Christian responses to J.K. Rowling’s character, and then explores the potential similarities themselves. It concludes by arguing the key variance between the two is that Harry Potter is obviously a fictional character, while Jesus Christ is almost universally accepted as a historical figure.

According to the publisher (HB Press), 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."

Author Derek Murphy, who obtained dual degrees in Theology and Philosophy on the Mediterranean island of Malta and is now in Asia getting a PhD in Comparative Literature, says “I’ve always been a huge Potter fan; 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, is that these similarities mostly come from pre-Christian sources. People sometimes assume that by making the claim that Jesus was mythical it means I think he was worthless. That’s not true at all; in the same sense, nobody would argue that Harry Potter is worthless just because he’s a fictional character. People love Harry Potter – he’s had a profound, meaningful and inspiring affect on people’s lives."

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 the first to argue that the similarities between Jesus and Harry - rather than making Harry more “holy” – simply 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, the book is "Particularly absorbing and highly topical. 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." (Jeff Crouse, Ph.D – Parmenides)

A review copy and press package are now available on the book's website, http://www.jesuspotterharrychrist.com.

The book will be launched February 15, 2011.
Jesus Potter, Harry Christ: 484 pages
Publishers: Holy Blasphemy
ISBN-13: 978-0615430935 (Custom Universal)
ISBN-10: 0615430937

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Tracy Peppridge
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