The Hollywood Gospel and its Scholars

Lessons from Stigmata

Authors

  • Richard Gregg Walsh Methodist University in Fayetteville

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v4i1.95

Keywords:

Stigmata, Gospel of Thomas, American mythology, individualism

Abstract

Stigmata, a 1999 film, dramatizes the recovery of a lost Jesus gospel by placing it within the story of the possession of an atheist beautician, who is also a stigmatic. The discovery of the reason for her possession and her exorcism leads ultimately to the publication of the lost, now found gospel. Stigmata cadges selections from the Gospel of Thomas together to create this gospel, which is a version of the Hollywood gospel hallowing the heroic individual above all things and empowering the fantasy of the subjective, expressive individual. This Hollywood gospel—unlike the Gospel of Thomas—is also scientific (or, at least, empirical and pragmatic), materialist, and democratic. It is, in short, a belated, peculiarly American form of gnosticism. Intriguingly, Stigmata’s drama also sheds some light on scholarship, revealing among other things the cultural embeddedness of scholarship and its interaction with popular fiction, particularly at the points of lost gospels and the notion of heroic individuals struggling against corrupt institutions.

Author Biography

Richard Gregg Walsh, Methodist University in Fayetteville

Professor of religion and co-director of the honors program at Methodist University

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Published

2010-06-05

How to Cite

Walsh, R. G. (2010). The Hollywood Gospel and its Scholars: Lessons from Stigmata. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 4(1), 95–111. https://doi.org/10.1558/post.v4i1.95

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Section

Articles