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The American Christ
He was a capitalist. He was an urban reformer. He was a country boy. He was “Comrade Jesus,” a hardworking socialist. He was the world’s first ad man. For a century and a half, novelists have been trying to recapture the “real” Jesus.
November 1988 | Volume 39, Issue 7
The gradual change of race and physique in Jesus can be traced not only in the novels and biographies but also in the Jesus movies of the twentieth century —the three Ben Hur films, King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Robe, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Last Temptation of Christ—though there has yet to be an American black Jesus movie.
Lives of Jesus have been one of the principal forms of religious and popular literature in America for 150 years. Many of the great political and social issues in recent history have been interpreted through the mirror of the Jesus story. The constant flow of Jesus books in each generation shows that whatever particular form he is given, Jesus retains a strong hold on the religious and imaginative lives of American Christians and that they would like to think that Jesus is with them wherever they go and in whatever tasks they undertake.