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 Pilate: Look at your Jesus Christ. I'll agree he's mad. Ought to be locked up, But that is not a reason to destroy him. He's a sad little man. Not a King or God. Not a thief, I need a crime!

Mob: Crucify him!

While most works that feature Jesus Christ stick to Jesus Was Way Cool, there are also works where he is portrayed as a bit crazy or even as clinically insane. He may mistake himself for a God, be mistaken for a God, or actually be a real but flawed God.

The portrayal can come from the narrative itself, or from a character.

Note that while "Jesus Was Crazy" and "Jesus Was Way Cool" are opposites, they can still show up in the same work. Either they contradict each other in some kind of point-counterpoint argument, or they blend together through some kind of Crazy Awesome or Cloudcuckoolander characterization.

Also, a character who believes that Jesus was not only cool but also divine might feel that you have to choose sides: Either worship Him or hate Him. This argument is derived from "he who is not with me is against me; he who does not gather the flock scatters it." However, the claim of out-right hate ignores the fact that not everyone who can undermine someone or their cause necessarily does so maliciously or intentionally, and it is possible to be well-meaning and have a high view of Jesus without being consistent with the tenets of worship.

A character might be tempted to argue that Jesus Was Crazy as a kind of Strawman Political argument: Taking for granted that if you don't believe the parts of the Gospels where Jesus actually ascended into heaven and all that, then you must still believe the parts where he claimed to be divine, and thus be obliged to consider him a megalomaniac. Of course, atheists, Muslims et cetera who think Jesus was cool prefer to focus on a simplified understanding of The Golden Rule, and that kind of stuff; assuming that the claims of divinity were added after his death -- along with the walking on water and similar hard-to-accept accounts.

Examples of Jesus Was Crazy include:


Comic Books

  • The Swedish comic "Personal-Jesus" (with the hyphen in the name) plays a lot with the lighter side of crazy. The name itself is a wordplay: The Swedish word "personal" means "staff" or "human resources" and is pronounced differently from the English word that is spelled the same way. In this quite surreal setting, Jesus Christ can indeed walk on water and everything, but for some reason he works in an ordinary office and create genral mayhem - getting his coworkers drunk as he turns water into wine at the worst possible moments, and so on.
  • Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe depicts Jesus as a nutty and nonsensical madman from brain damage after being "baptized" and held under water too long.

Film

  • The Last Temptation of Christ start out with portraying Jesus as a paranoid schizophrenic who starts preaching because he hears voices in his head. The movie starts with him working as a carpenter building crosses for the Romans and rambling on about how he wants to crucify all the messiahs. The story goes through many plot twists, and the psychiatric perspective gets obsolete after a while - but Jesus being crazy in one way or another remains the only constant throughout the movie. and trying to live a decent life turns out to be the craziest thing of them all.

Literature

Live Action TV

  • House once asked for a differential diagnosis on Jesus, and Martha comes up with schizophrenia. The episode itself was about a patient that was very religious, and House believed that the strong convictions was caused by a medical problem.

Music

Theater

  • Jesus Christ Superstar is (among other things) built like a point-counterpoint debate regarding who and what Jesus was. While Maria Magdalena and the apostle Simon represent two very different versions of Jesus Was Way Cool, Pontius Pilate goes down the Jesus Was Crazy road - trying to defend Jesus by arguing that he's insane. See page quote.
    • Note that the "cool vs crazy" debate is not about being for or against Jesus. Pilate is trying to save him, while Caiaphas who is trying to get him crucified subscribes to the "Jesus is cool" camp. In the initial scene, Judas is still loyal to Jesus, and yet complains about how Jesus is turning increasingly mentally unstable under the pressure from his believers.
  • The Clive Barker play The History of the Devil portrays Jesus as a complete lunatic who actually talks Satan into arranging his own crucifixion.

Webcomics

  • Ghastlys Ghastly Comic put forward the idea of multiple Jesuses (Jesi?), who tend to represent the various "faces" of Christ as interpreted by his followers and the general public (with the possible exception of Drunk and Bitter Jesus, who is pretty much how Jesus would feel if he were alive to see the way the other Jesuses act). Jesus Was Crazy is Fark.com Jesus, who carries an awful lot of artillery for a guy who said "Blessed are the peacemakers."

Web Original

  • Zinnia Jones claims that the biblical Jesus was way out of whack, for example in the episode The Meaningless Death Of Jesus.
  • The Onion: Jesus may or may not have had a good reason to convert to Islam, but the Christians interviewed about it sure thought he was insane to blaspheme himself like that.

Real Life

  • This is a component of the Christian apologist argument called "Lord/Liar/Lunatic", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The argument is usually preceded by an argument about a historical Jesus or the veracity of biblical accounts, but then goes on to argue that with the various claims attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, he must be lying, crazy or an actual deity. This is generally a response to those who view Jesus as a good teacher but not a divine one. However, a lot of his ideas about morality work. Other speakers of morality don't always live up to what they say in their own lives, casting doubt on the "liar or a lunatic" part actually negating anything. However, the "Lord of All" part, if valid, negates a popular tenet of believing there are many "right" ways to Heaven. Also, to have him not measure up to those claims negates the Bible's claims about salvation through grace. Three counter-arguments to the debate are: 1)That Jesus' claims to divinity were the product of overzealous followers after his death. 2)That religious belief in oneself isn't necessarily (or even likely) proof of clinical insanity -- especially not in the social context of that particular age of history. Or 3)that the Jesus of The Bible is a fictional character, whose divinity within the story makes him a great moral example regardless of real life divinity. A counter-counter-argument is that if this is the case, then the entire Bible becomes sketchy as a moral authority. Then on whose authority is morality defined? It's worth noting that modern doubts that the historical Jesus claimed to be God (History Channel historians' and theologians' preferred view) doesn't necessarily stop all modern theologians from defending the gospels writers' position.
    • Leads to the derivative argument that the followers were either honest, insane, or suicidal. In spite modern secular accusations that they had fame and glory in mind; most of the New Testament writers wrote each other warning of how likely it was they would all be killed. In fact, only John died of natural causes. They were frequently harassed and run out of town, and lived in constant poverty. Not exactly the usual makings of a Get Rich Quick Scheme.

Notes

  1. Here.
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