Superman is Moses. The comparisons are clear and unambiguous. Rocket ship, Adopted Parents, Gifted with God-like powers, Fighting for truth and justice. Basket, Adopted into Egyptian Royal Family, Gifted powers from G-d to deliver his people from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
It extends even further when you know that the creators of Superman, Siegel and Schuster are first generation North American Jews. Any possible connection to Jesus is more to do with connections to Mosaic themes held in the Messianic prophecies. Of course Christians do have an historical tendency to make it all about Jesus.
Is Batman in the Bible?
But Batman? Is Batman somewhere in the Biblical texts? The Dark Knight Detective who lost his parents to a random act of violence. Who fights a war against crime by taking on a special disguise. Is there a vigilante or freedom fighter in the biblical text that shares enough of a similar story to possibly be like unto Batman?
These are my choices you may have others. Please feel free come up with your own. I will be posting this article on tumblr and twitter so you can reply there. I have ignored the Christian texts for two reasons. One, like Superman, Batman’s creators (Bob Kane and Bill Finger) were Jewish. Two Jesus and Paul; despite both being awesome they are not Batman.
The Hebrew Hammer. Part of the Hasmonean dynasty. Fought the Seleucid’s to gain freedom for the people of Judah. As villains go Antiochus IV Epiphanes is a great villain whose lack of cultural awareness was abominable. Judah Maccabees narrative certainly gives us a warrior for truth and justice.
Yet it is Judah’s father, Matthias who began the fight against the Seleucids. While there is a Batman story line where Batman’s Dad survived called Flashpoint, it had the young Bruce die. While Matthias died of old age, Judah died in battle against the Seleucids. Judah gets points in his fight for truth and justice but little else links the Hebrew Hammer to Batman.
Judges of Israel
We will keep it to the well known ones. Samson, has powers, immediate disqualification. Samuel did not fight. Gideon had flocks and could be considered wealthy. Deborah was Batman to Barak’s Commissioner Gordon. Ehud definitely a badass. Yet I am sure Batman is right handed, though knowing Batman he could be ambidextrous.
While the Judges were there for truth and justice and they all saved Israel from times of crisis; there are significant parts of the Batman mythos each lack. Unlike Moses and Superman the fit is not close enough here. But there are two others.
The book of Judith is found in the Apocryphal sections of the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic bibles. Judith is also found in the Apocrypha of the Septuagint which is the Greek translation of the Jewish texts. Long story short Judith saves Israel. How Judith does this is amazing. She does so by tricking, seducing and eventually beheading the Syrian General Holofernes.
Judith is an incredibly devout woman who leaves aside her widows garments to become a femme fatal. Judith talks her way into the Syrian army and the affections of Holofernes. Where upon after beheading the General she walks out with HIS HEAD IN A BASKET.
Intelligence, planning, costume and identity change, fights for truth and justice, close family member dead. Judith is also assisted by a female servant who helps her carry out her plan. Add to this the priests and elders of the city who accept Judith’s help much like the Gotham Police and Commissioner Gordon. Is this not a lock for Batman? Well there is another contender.
Esther and Haman (boo!)*
For those who came in late...Esther and her cousin Mordecai live in Babylon during the Jewish exile. Nebuchadnezzar is King and in need of a wife. Of all the women chosen for the king to wed the King chooses Esther. The Jews are in trouble because a member of the royal court, Haman (boo!) plans to get the King to pass rules whereby he can kill the Jewish population.
Mordecai warns Esther of the plot he overheard Haman (boo!) talking about. Mordecai suggests that she should use her place as Queen to try and foil this plot to kill her people. Esther has the King and Haman (boo!) over for a meal and reveals that she is a Jewess. Esther did not tell the King and Haman (boo!) did not know she was a Jew.
Nebuchadnezzar passes laws that the Jews can arm themselves. Haman (boo!) is hanged on the very gallows he made and the Jews are saved. Esther’s actions are celebrated on the holiday of Purim.
Why Esther is Batman
Esther’s parents are dead possibly due to the exile. Mordecai is a shoe in for Alfred. Esther has a secret identity as the Queen and a Jewess. There is are costume changes for both Esther and Mordecai. The plot is revealed in now traditional whodunit style.
Finally while Esther’s actions bring about the death of Haman (boo!) it is not by her hands that Haman (boo!) is killed. Haman is judged by the King to be executed. Unlike Judith, Batman is known for not killing his villains.
Esther has money, power, privilege, help from an older father figure, secret identity, costume change, parents dead due to societal problems, fights for truth and justice. And most important does not kill the bad guy.
If Superman is Moses then who is Batman in the bible? Esther. Esther fits the most number of similarities to Batman than any of those I have chosen to consider. If you have another candidate please send them to me via twitter @thschristianguy.
* In celebrating Purim Esther is read out loud. It is traditional to ‘boo!’ when Haman’s (boo!) name is mentioned. I could not resist adding them.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.