You are here

Biblical Archaeology Review 46:4, Fall 2020

Epistles: Superheroes and the Bible

By Nicholaus Pumphrey

Biblical Archaeology Review

In 1938 a new all-american hero burst onto the scene armed with hope after the Great Depression and ready to take action when the U.S. entered World War II. The cover of Action Comics #1 depicted the “Man of Steel” wielding a car over his head, while people ran in terror. Superman came to the world to help the oppressed and needy. He was a “superhero,” the first of his kind. By World War II, 70 million Americans were reading his comics. As a response to public interest, the publishers readily created cartoons, radio shows, and eventually television programs. American culture was quickly saturated in Superman media.

What does Superman have to do with the Bible? Superman’s impact on global culture is so immense that it is almost impossible to read any hero without intertextually engaging with him. Superman is the urtext of the superhero genre. Every hero that comes after him, in a sense, is a response to his creation. Since we live in a post-Superman world, we as readers cannot retroactively read heroes as if he never existed. As a result, a circular intertext is created where Superman’s qualities (loosely based on biblical figures) is read back into the biblical text.1

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.