Christian mythology

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Why is there such a lack of Christian mythology in fiction compared to other mythologies?

In recent years, fictional stories in literature, TV, video games, film, etc. have begun to incorporate elements, characters, and situations from various ancient mythologies to great success. Greek and Norse mythologies have been especially featured (such as the popular Percy Jackson series or Marvel’s Thor and his stories), but other mythologies have seen an increase as well, including Irish, Japanese, Mayan, Egyptian, Hindu, and various native mythologies. The most successful examples are not simple modern retellings of ancient myths, but original stories.

One large area of untapped potential seems to be Christian mythology. As the most widespread religion on Earth, one would think the varied stories, traditions, and fantastical parts of Christianity would be ripe for use in stories on a level comparable to any other mythological system. There are some notable examples of where this has been implemented well in fiction, such as the Left Behind series of books or the Darksiders video game series (which both draw heavily from elements of the biblical book of Revelation), as well as elements being incorporated into popular works such as the TV shows "Supernatural" or "Lucifer." For the most part, however, fictional works set against a backdrop of angels and demons tend overwhelmingly to be overtly religious or evangelizing in nature. Compare this to works that incorporate other mythologies into their stories, which almost always do so purely for entertainment value rather than to promote the religions they feature.

Why is this material so underutilized? Is there anything inherently different about Christian mythology compared to any other mythological system? With the sheer volume of fiction with mythological elements out there, might we see a surge in works that drawn upon elements from Christian mythology as the public tires of yet another story with Zeus or Thor?

  • Great topic! I think part of the answer may lie in how "overt" existing content is. As soon as you reveal content is religious, and specifically Christian, people expect to be either bored or offended (in my experience, anyway). I think there's a lot of implicit and confirmation bias going on, which you could explore if you choose to delve into the psychology of these questions. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
  • This is an interesting topic. Though the answer seems obvious, it can be interpreted in many different ways. The way I personally see it, Christian mythology is both still very much modern and widely spread across the world despite being rooted in ancient folklore, texts and stories. It is hard to conveniently represent biblical characters and events without offending certain groups of Christians or non-Christians. When representing characters such as Thor or Zeus, there is no huge demographic that will contest the artist's aesthetic position as those beings are widely believed to be mythical and unrealistic, mostly depicting human qualities and shortcomings. Most Christians, if not all, believe that the stories from long ago did happen, and that their representation is sacred and should be free from rewriting or human tampering. There is obviously also the topic of the different Christian churches such as Catholicism and Protestantism, which come with their own separate beliefs and doctrines. Though their mythologies most likely hardly differ in major ways, it is still an aspect that contributes to the lack of Christian fiction. – AlGrater 2 years ago
  • Kinda disagree that Christian Mythology isn't being explored/delved into. While we don't have stories about modern versions of Biblical characters or retelling of christian events (Unless you include Aron McGruder's satirical sitcom Black Jesus or South Parks Jesus and Satan) we do see Christian religion regularly brought up or used as an allegorical message for various series. (Blue Exorcist the protagonist the is the son of Satan, Seraph of the End. While this series mostly deals with Vampires it does have multiple Christian references with in it.) Ankin basically being the chosen one and being born of a virgin birth is a good example in western culture using Christian imagery in their series. (Which I think is how most western shows/movies use Christianity now days.) But you have series like the Shin Megami Tensi series, where you summon actual biblical angels and demons to fight for you. And sometime battle various versions of divine beings. Much of that series has you going on journey that have multiple allusions to religious events. Persona 3 while it never directly states it, the protagonist is meant to be seen as a religious messiah that sacrifices himself for the sins of others. (Your literal final persona is called Messiah and you die at the end to give a humanity a chance to live on) I will agree with the premise that other religious mythological figures are more popular. And as someone has already pointed out, this most likely due to people being less protective of characters like Thor and Zeus, but I don't think Christianity has diminished in popularity. I think it used symbolically more than other religions, as it gets the message across in an largely inoffensive way. Still I would find someone writing on this topic interesting. – Blackcat130 2 years ago
  • I think there's really two answers to this question. One is that people tend to like things that strike them as "new" or "exotic," and so they borrow from foreign belief systems for the "cool" factor of having something new and different. This is one reason why Christian motifs and names are more common in Japanese anime series than Western ones, because to the Japanese Christianity itself seems exotic. On the other hand, I would argue that Christian themes even in the west are actually more common than one might suppose, although they might be hidden. For instance, J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the Lord of the Rings series, was a practicing Christian, and almost certainly included at least some of his beliefs in the stories he wrote. C.S. Lewis, of course, also wrote explicitly Christian themes into his Chronicles of Narnia series. There is also the fact that in past eras, where Christianity was a lot more widespread than it is now, people wrote much more openly about the characters and themes of the Christian Bible, with works such as Paradise Lost among others. – Debs 2 years ago
  • Is there less of it, or are audiences in countries like the United States, that are majority Christian, less likely to notice it? Christianity is much more familiar than polytheistic ancient cultures. When Superman falls to Earth in Man of Steel, his arms outspread in the shape of a cross, is it less notable than significant Norse imagery? The Golden Compass and Good Omens are two large and successful franchises, both based in Christian mythology. They also have another thing in common - they faced tremendous backlash. Many of the other mythologies mentioned have few modern practitioners to object their mythology being farmed for fictional entertainment... So, with the examples given here and the ones above, is there really a lack? I'd be interested to hear more examples of the other mythologies adapted. – ronannar 2 years ago