Marketing The Messiah Hits Cinemas In March 2020

My first documentary film, Marketing The Messiah, will be screening in selected cinemas in Australia and the USA in March 2020.

It’s a secular history film about early Christianity. I interviewed twelve scholars and asked them to explain how a fringe Jewish sect from the backwaters of Judaea ended up taking over the Roman Empire.

Who wrote the New Testament?

When was it written?

In what order?

How did the message of the New Testament change over the course of the writing of it?

And how did the early Christians convince Romans to worship a dead Jew?

It might seem strange to make a film about this because most Christians probably think they already know the answers – and most atheists don’t give a shit.

But what I’ve found over the years is that most Christians are actually incredibly ignorant about the foundations of their religion. Moreover, most of them don’t want to know. There’s an attitude many of them have that suggests history doesn’t matter – only faith. Which is fine, I guess, but strikes me as rather silly. You’d think that anyone who decides to devote a chunk of their life to a philosophy would want to understand where it came from.

The atheists, on the other hand, tend to dismiss Christian history because they aren’t interested in religion. But I need to point out that Christian history is the history of Western Civilizations from around 400 CE onwards. As I often say – Julius Caesar and Alexander The Great were both worshipped as gods and you’re interested in their history – how is this any different?

The film, however, isn’t an attack on faith or a theological debate. I’m not interested in those topics (for now). This is just about the history of the early church. And to make sure it isn’t biased, I made sure that half of the scholars are Christians and half are atheists. As you’ll see when you watch the film, they all agree on the fundamental questions posed above about the writing, authorship and timing of the New Testament. That’s mainstream scholarship – even though most Christians will probably be shocked by what they hear.

You can find screening information here and learn more about how to set up your own screening here. You can watch the trailer here and more clips from the film here. Yes it will eventually be available for streaming, but not until later in the year.

I’m just a jealous god.

It seems quite clear that the Hebrews and Yahweh (or Elohim, actually) both believed there were multiple gods. Monotheism wasn’t their thing – at least not when Exodus was written.

As Karen Armstrong writes in “A History Of God”:

In the final text of Exodus, edited in the fifth century BCE, God is said to have made a covenant with Moses on Mount Sinai (an event which is supposed to have happened around 1200). There has been a scholarly debate about this: some critics believe that the covenant did not become important in Israel until the seventh century BCE. But whatever its date, the idea of the covenant tells us that the Israelites were not yet monotheists, since it only made sense in a polytheistic setting. The Israelites did not believe that Yahweh, the God of Sinai, was the only God but promised, in their covenant, that they would ignore all the other deities and worship him alone. It is very difficult to find a single monotheistic statement in the whole of the Pentateuch. Even the Ten Commandments delivered on Mount Sinai take the existence of other gods for granted: ‘There shall be no strange gods for you before my face.’

Shaming Women

So sayeth Saint Paul. When he wrote this, in the late 40s or 50s CE, women in the Roman Empire were still respected in religious rites, such as the all-female Bona Dea cult and of course the Vestal Virgins. In Judaism, their role was much more limited. I find it interesting, though, that Paul, the founder of Gentile Christianity, who claimed to speak directly to the ghost of Jesus, took such a harsh tone towards women. Why would it be shameful for them to speak, I wonder? From my Random Bible Quotes Facebook group.