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Cody Barbu Prof. Gans Lit. 155 02-16-2009

A Comparison between The Gospel of Matthew and Life of Brian The Gospel of Mathew is the basis of Christianity. The Life of Brian is a movie that is certainly inspired from The Gospel of Matthew. Although there are many similarities between The Gospel of Matthew and The Life of Brian, they both have totally different religious views; therefore, they ultimately have a contrasting impact on readers or viewers. Although the makers of The Life of Brian maintain that the events in the movie are not connected with the events in Jesus life, the similarities between the events in The Life of Brian and The Gospel of Matthew are obvious. On the one hand, the scenes in both The Gospel of Matthew and The Life of Brian are not only set up in almost the same way, but follow the same sequence. Jesus and Brians births take place in stables in Bethlehem. The Star of Bethlehem appears in The Gospel of Matthew, and respectively in The Life of Brian. Both infants are visited by the three wise men who give them gifts. Nothing is revealed about the events of their later life until they both reached the age of thirty. Both Jesus and Brian eventually come to Jerusalem where the Jewish society is ruled by the Romans. In both works, The Jewish people oppose the Roman occupation. In the Gospel of Matthew, Barabbas is a murderer; and in Life of Brian, there are organized parties that oppose the Roman regime. Both Brian and


Jesus have followers. They are both judged by Pontius Pilate, and as a result, both Brian and Jesus end up being crucified. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus dies together with two murderers, and In Life of Brian, two lawbreakers are also crucified with Brian. Jesus and Brians mothers assist at their sons crucifixions. On the second hand, the religious views present in both Gospel of Matthew and The Life of Brian are very different from each others. The religious and ethical contents of the Gospel of Matthew have inspired people for the last two millennia. Jesus is portrayed not only as an extremely wise person, but also as a person having divine powers with the help of which Jesus does many miracles. Jesus tells stories that contain enormous ethical values. Indeed, the morality in the stories is appreciated even by non-believers. Jesus gives sight back to the blind; he raises up the dead; he turns water into wine and he multiplies a loaf of bread and a few fish into thousands of loaves of bread and thousand of fish in order to feed the multitude of people attending at his teachings. Many Christians consider these miracles normal. Although Jesus comes from a family of carpenters who live in a very small and insignificant town, Jesus has had a tremendous popularity for the last centuries. He has been seen by believers as a Savior of the people because He sacrificed Himself to save the peoples sins. Whether these events ever took place, or if Jesus ever existed are not questioned by the Church or Christians regardless of the fact that there is no scientific evidence of his deity. On the contrary, the release of the movie The Life of Brian brought extreme criticism throughout the Christian world. It is widely believed that the Church is mocked by the humorous events associated with Jesus life. Although comical in value, these events provide the viewer with a different approach towards the events in Jesus life. There are many things that may have influenced Jesus portrayal as the Son of God. How did Jesus even become the Son of God?


Some of these things are clearly exemplified in Life of Brian. The Jews in those times were under Roman occupation; therefore, the Jews felt persecuted by the Romans. If that is the case, the Jews may have been in need of a savior to ease their suffering; the same as when the Jews were under Egyptian authority and they chose Moses as the liberator of the people. Moreover, the people living during Jesus times were uneducated, and this factor alone may have greatly contributed to Jesus development into a divine personality. When Brian is chased by the Roman soldiers, he ends up preaching next to some prophets. In order to escape from the soldiers, Brian must preach as the other preachers next to him do, so would not be noticed by the soldiers. Brian is not a religiously wise man, and for that reason, he does not have the capability to preach. However, he remembers and tells his audience some stories he heard from Jesus. As a result, the audience sees Brian as a savior. Furthermore, the number of prophets in that time was high considering the appearance of multiple prophets in The Life of Brian and The Gospel of Matthew. It is really easy for an audience to pick up Brian as the Messiah. It could have actually been that Jesus followers would have chosen to follow another man than Jesus if that man had been wise enough to preach as Jesus did, and if the circumstances had been right. For instance, John the Baptist was religiously wise. Like Brian, John could have been easily taken for the Messiah. The fact that John the Baptist was not seen as a Messiah was because John the Baptist mentioned to his audience he was not the Messiah. It is hard for Brian to convince the audience that he is not the Messiah because the people are influenced by Brians miracles; therefore, they do not want to change their minds in respect to the possibility that Brian may not be the Messiah. In that case, The Life of Brian


suggests the easiness with which people consider the existence of miracles. The stupidity of Brians followers can be observed when the followers see divine signs: they regard Brians fallen shoe as a sign from God. When Brian moves away unnoticed from the crowd, the first option the crowd considers is to look up to the skies in order to see if Brian has risen into heaven. That is an analogy to the idea that religious people should consider other options before coming to metaphysical conclusions for things that could have happened otherwise, or that could never have happened. Indeed, The Life of Brian may suggest that Jesus rise to heaven mentioned in The Gospel of Matthew is an action that may have never happened. Brians falling down from the top of the tower when the Romans chase him should end with Brians death. Instead, he is suddenly saved by the flying ship. The appearance of the flying ship does not have its place in the ancient background. The origin of the ship is questioned. The scene portrays Jesus resurrection after His crucifixion and his rise to heaven. It is hard to believe that Brian is saved by a ship piloted by extraterrestrial beings, and in the same way, it is hard to believe that Jesus ascended to heaven. All the similarities between The Life of Brian and The Gospel of Matthew suggest that the first was inspired from the latter. The Gospel of Matthew remains the most important of the gospels despite the release of Life of Brian that humorously contradicts the religious ideas in The Gospel of Matthew. Life of Brian is not a mockery of Christ, but it suggests through humor that one has to consider different views on religious miracles.