Biblical Archaeology Review 5:3, May/June 1979

The Hebrew Origins of Superman

By James K. Brower

Using well-established principles of form-criticism, as well as the findings of Biblical archaeology and other methods of modern Biblical scholarship, I have discovered that the Superman stories—commonly thought to be of purely American origin—are in fact rooted in ancient Hebrew institutions.

The well-known folk tale centers on a hero figure commonly called “Superman.” The Superman cycle is made up of four distinct strata (commonly denominated P, E, J and D), the most recent of which, D, is comprised of three identifiable genres literaires: (1) the comic book, (2) the radio, and (3) the television versions.

The term “Superman” reflects a strong Jewish influence, though of a relatively recent date. This can be seen most clearly in the suffix -man, a suffix common to many contemporary Jewish names (e.g. Silverman, Freedman, etc.). This suffix was probably added by a late redactor. With this observation, however, we are admittedly a long way from proving that the origins of this saga can be traced to ancient Israel.

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