The Bible and Time Travel

I was thinking recently that it would be fun to teach a class, whether about the Bible or history more generally, which approached it through stories about time travel to various times and places, and then looked at the actual historical sources.

A few recent posts on blogs I read intersected with this, bringing the Bible and/or Christianity into intersection with time travel. First, here’s an excerpt from a post by Arik Bjorn at Faith Forward:

With 20 centuries under its biblical belt, Christian history offers its fair share of landmark bloopers.

Major flubs that immediately spring to mind are the Great Schism, the Avignon Papacy, and that dreadful day in 2013 when Liberty University invited Kirk Cameron and Justin Bieber’s mom to speak at convocation.

If I could hop in a DeLorean and correct any single moment in the Holy Church space-time continuum, it would probably be the year 1551, in Geneva, when Robert Estienne, “royal typographer” and “printer in Greek to the [French] King,” translated the Latin Vulgate and added a formatting innovation to the New Testament: Verse Notations.

Click through to read the rest.

Next, Matt Young posted the image below. We learned a while back that Ken Ham is a Doctor Who fan. And so presumably time travel explains the existence of a crane in this story set in the stone-age. Or do we have reason to think that there was such technology during the paleolithic – which is when, according to Answers in Genesis, the story unfolds. In fact, the stone age starts after the Flood, and so perhaps they are of the view that there was more advanced technology previously which was lost in that global cataclysm? If so, they need to provide evidence. They can perhaps collaborate with Giorgio Tsoukalos, even if they interpret the alleged data differently.

Which other Biblical stories are improved, or make more sense, if time travel is added? What do you think about a class about the Bible, religion, or ancient history, which used modern science fiction time travel stories as a route by which to approach the relevant historical data and questions? Do you think it would be not only a fun but an informative course, and which books, stories, TV episodes, and movies would you recommend ought to be part of it?

Let me add just a couple more science fiction related tidbits from around the blogosphere.

First, IO9 had a round up of interesting church gargoyles, including the Darth Vader one I have mentioned here previously, and also this one (which, if it were not a modern addition during renovation, would have to be connected with time travel):

And finally, Michael Barber shared this image, which a youth minister he knows calls “St. Martha in Carbonite”:

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  • gordonhudsonnu

    You need to read Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock. A time traveller goes back to meet Jesus.

  • Keika

    I like your idea and suggest just for amusement:

    Saturday Night Live, had a game show called “Future Jeopardy.” Why not host a similar time traveling game, something like “The Sky Will Be Falling.” Example, under the category of Visionaries: The Answer: He professed the earth was only 6,000 years old. The Question: Who is Ben Lamb? Try again.

  • $41348855

    The novel “The Light of Other Days” by Arthur C Clarke involves a slight variation on the theme. The novel is about the invention of a device called a “wormcam” which enables people in the present day to observe any event in the past. There is a scene where the scientists try to use the wormcam to find out what really happened to Jesus. Of course, the problem with trying to tackle this in fiction is that the writer sets himself an impossible challenge. When you get to a scene like this you start to feel the anticipation of finding out what really did happen to Jesus, but the trouble is that the writer doesn’t actually know, so he has to try to make up something interesting. I won’t give it away, just in case anyone wants to read it.

  • Arik Bjorn

    Dr. McGrath, thanks for the quote. I shared your article on my FB writer page.

    Time itself is fascinating from a theological perspective. I imagine God is there then, there now and there forward. What it must have been like at the origin of the Universe to know that all of the choices of all creatures ultimately would lead to the creation of things like lime yogurt and Angry Birds.

    Great concept article, and one that I’ll spend some more “time” thinking about.