Wise Time Lords Still Seek Him

I was reminded of two quick passing references on Doctor Who that had completely slipped my mind: I wonder whether somehow missed the first time I saw these episodes, or if perhaps I made a mental note of them but had forgotten by the end of watching them.

From “Voyage of the Damned”:


This Christmas thing, what’s it all about?


Long story. I should know, I was there. I got the last room.

From “Planet of the Dead”:

THE DOCTOR: Funny thing is, I don’t usually do Easter. I can never find it. Always at a different time. Although I remember the original. Between you and me, what really happened was… [interrupted by bleeping noise]

The suggestion that the Doctor was present for the birth of Jesus (a wise man who traveled from afar if ever there was one) and knows what “really happened” on the original Easter is presumably inserted simply to be humorous. Alas, if this is in the Doctor’s past, that means that we will almost certainly never actually get to see the Doctor travel to the time of Jesus.

As a New Testament scholar, I am struck that, on the one hand, the mention of Easter suggests that there is a “true story” different from the version that has come to be accepted, while the mention of Christmas reinforces the historicity of what is a dubious rendering of the Gospels’ information, which is itself of doubtful historicity even if rendered in a more culturally appropriate way. The reference to the Doctor getting the last room is of course supposed to result in there being “no room at the inn.”

If you imagined the Doctor traveling back to the original Christmas or Easter, which Doctor would it be, and how would the story unfold?

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  • http://www.gentlewisdom.org/ Peter Kirk

    Thanks for the link.

  • http://tunabay.com Keika

    The Dickens Nativity Choral conducted by Doctor Opera.

    “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”

  • Just Sayin’

    I wouldn’t trust the BBC to send the Doctor back to the original Easter; it would just be James Tabor “Jesus Tomb” silliness.

  • Chris

    Love the premise and if I knew even a “slight” ammount about Dr. Who I would write up a short about it…alas, I am ignorant of the Who…

    How about Sam from Quantum Leap?

    I’ll write that up and fire it at ya…

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I’ll look forward to it! I actually have an idea for a time-travel to the first century story that I want to find the time to write…

  • Aquila

    If it was Ten I could see that getting /very interesting/, what with the way Ten’s darker side came out so. What happens when the Time Lord Victorious meets a Lord greater than he?

    • Acquinas

      Jesus will never compare to The Doctor. For example, Ten, for all his dark side, never called any young lady a “slut.” He also doesn’t hate gay people and never denied anyone agency over their own medical decisions.

      If Jesus and The Doctor were standing right in front of me, The Doctor gets to shake my hand. Jesus gets a kick in the nuts unless he apologizes for all those “slut” comments.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        Any chance you might be confusing Jesus with Rush Limbaugh?

      • xuinkrbin

        I agree with James F. McGrath. You seem to have incorrectly characterized Jesus.

  • doctorwhat

    Despite modern Christians’ bull-in-china-shop usage of Christmas to bludgeon everyone else into accepting their ownership of happiness, childhood, goodwill, the public sphere, and the entire month of December, Christmas still hasn’t lost the comparative innocence and relative harmlessness of its recent past.

    Sure, hundreds of years ago, the church would beat and torture you if you dared to have fun on Christmas (not kidding here), but since Victorian times, Christmas has been the one Christian holiday which is actually about a harmless baby and his family getting shelter and respect. It’s a hopeful and not very hateful message, a rarity in modern Christianity.

    Easter, on the other hand, is pretty much guilt central, with the ash Wednesday, the death and guilt, the passion plays, the anti-Semitism.

    Doctor Who always plays up and highlights the best in humanity and humanism. It’s only natural for The Doctor to fictionalize Easter while making the pleasant myth of Christmas a little more real than the death and mayhem that the Resurrection myth has legitimately wreaked over the centuries.

    In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Christmas was a somber time to punish yourself for not being worthy of the gifts of the Lord, but Easter was an excuse to ride out and murder Jews (that’s what a Passion Play was for – the pep rally before the big event of jew-killing).

    I see these two holidays as opposite ends of a spectrum – Christmas is the nice, goodwill, liberal, pro-social and Humanist-friendly side of Christianity. It’s the side that wants to provide food and shelter for those in need. Easter is the murderous, exclusionist, controlling and hateful side. The Doctor is just telling us that he’s picked a side.

    You should, too.

  • http://merelyadequate.net Mike aka MonolithTMA

    In 1969 Michael Moorcock wrote a novel, which was an expansion of his novella, called Behold The Man. It was about a time traveler traveling to the time of Jesus.


    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I know the short story well, having using it in my class a few times. I’ve never read the novella.

      • http://merelyadequate.net Mike aka MonolithTMA

        I’ve only read the short story as well, it’s in one of the sci-fi collections I have.