Jewish Journal

On the veracity of “Life of Brian”

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 25, 2014 | 7:54 pm

"Life of Brian" is one of my favorite movies. Not just one of my favorite Monty Python movies, or one of my favorite ancient Judea movies. I've mentioned it before. (As I write, I can't pretend I'm not humming this.)

But as someone who wasn't around when the film was released in 1979, it's hard to imagine the acrimony that followed. Charges of blasphemy and Church of England officials likening the Python cast members to Judas.

Well, it turns out the movie might be heavier on the history than some would like to admit. At least compared to many other Hollywood films.

Here's what Richard A. Burridge, dean of King's College London, had to say:

"It wasn't a take on Christ's life. They wanted to do Jesus Christ less for glory; decided that when they read Jesus they couldn't make fun of him. What they do is make fun of Brian, who quite clearly isn't Christ.... Judea at the time was full of pretend messiahs--"I should know Lord, I've following many of them," is one of Cleese's lines. And it is anti-typical of that and the internecine warfare that was going on between the various Jewish liberation groups.... So much of that was extremely accurate. It was an really interesting discussion of why was Jesus different than the Brians and everyone else who was around." 

That's from the above clip on BBC Radio 4' Today Programme (also featuring John Cleese and Michael Palin).

In case you were thinking Burridge is no theologian, he's also a professor of biblical interpretation and in October received the Ratzinger Prize from Pope Francis -- the first non-Catholic to do so.

(h/t The Telegraph)

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