Will Time-Travelers Ruin the Passion?

Will Time-Travelers Ruin the Passion? July 23, 2012


It is a scenario that some science fiction stories have explored – Gary Kilworth's “Let's Go To Golgotha!” and Michael Moorcock's “Behold The Man” come immediately to mind. Even I have a story involving time travel to first century Judaea that I would love to write. But even if you haven't read such stories, I will bet that something like that crossed your mind when you saw the painting above.

That painting by Jon McNaughton is one of several featured in a piece on the Cracked web site, about religious art that intended to communicate one thing, but to many who see it conveys something else (HT Michael Wilson on Facebook). Some of the comments in that article about the various historical figures depicted in the painting will probably make you laugh out loud. Please refrain from clicking through if you have a beverage in your mouth and your iPad or laptop on your lap in front of you.

Feel free to comment on time travel to first century Palestine, or share your own examples of religious artwork gone awry – whichever you find more interesting!


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  • Alden Utter

    The best thing about this one is that it’s sort of the culmination of his style. He’s just crammed it full of people, who are just there, symbolizing themselves without actually doing anything. Like, Mark Twain’s back there. We still recognize him, a century later. Why is he there? Honestly, the whole thing is a complete mess, and the guy in the business suit looks like he’s going to karate chop Jesus in the arm.

  • My story would probably involve a man who invents a time machine and then notices that Bibles now have a character in them that he does not remember before inventing the machine and wondering if he is involved in that change. That or picking one of the more mysterious figures in the Bible now and making them a time traveler.

  • Gordon Hudson

    Behold the man is one of my favourite books, especially the subtext about why he is sacrificing himself.

  • Harry Harrison uses the idea as a parting shot in “Technicolor Time Machine” – having saved a film studio from bankruptcy by making a “Vikings discover America” film with real vikings (only to discover that everything they did while in the past was already in the sagas), the story ends with the studio exec and the scriptwriter planning to do a biblical epic set in 1st century Palestine…

  • William J E Dempsey

    Like much of Science Fiction, some Sci Fi stories based on this kind of scenario are actually veiled critiques of contemporary society. And particularly, critiques of middle-class religion, or Babbittry.
    In the present example? The idea of time-travelers being present at/ messing up the crucifixion, is at least a literary metaphor for anachronistic theologies. It is in part a literary metaphor for theologians and everyday Christians who look at religion, at events like the crucifixion … and see only too much of their own limited ideas. Who see far too much of themselves in it. So their their personal egos and limited perspectives, deform and even destroy the original concept. Who see themselves and their own values in effect, as God.
    As you have noted in connection with say, tea-party religion?