There's not a lot in the New Testament about Jesus between the age of 13, when he visited Jerusalem with his parents and when he began his ministry at age 30, but this week, the Fox network commissioned a new TV event series that may address that gap. It's called Nazareth and it's being developed by FX Productions, which produces many of Fox's event series, and Entertainment One. Executive producers include Landscape Entertainment's Bob Cooper, David Franzoni (co-writer and producer of the hit movie, Gladiator) as well as Eleven Films' Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson.
Few details are currently available about the new event series but plenty of people are speculating about what it will be like. Jessica Bluemke, writing on the Friendly Atheist blog, offered a few ideas for stories about the teenaged Jesus, including:
- Jesus tries to attend a friend's pool party with disastrous and embarrassing results.
- Jesus gets busted for turning water into wine at a friend's party. A lesson is learned by all.
- Someone forgets to order food for the prom. Jesus steps in.
- In a very special episode, Jesus finds out Joseph isn't his real dad.
Others don't think there is anything funny about the idea of a show on the adolescent Jesus. While few pundits from the Religious Right have weighed in so far, plenty of the rank and file are letting their feelings be known. Here's a sampling of some of their comments from the article about it on Deadline Hollywood:
- "oh, wonderful... people already know enough about the life of Jesus and won’t accept Him as it is. why does hollywood think Christians are going to watch a fictional Jesus story? Jesus said that if you want eternal life, all you have to do is ask Him and He will show you whether or not He is the Son of God. no need for Fox to make up stories about the teenage years of Jesus. sad." (Jasper Dale)
- "This is going to be a farce like all the other secular attempts at depicting anything Christian! Note the words ‘as he comes to learn he is the Son of God and is destined for greatness.’ He IS God in human flesh, there was never a time when He didn’t know that He was God in human flesh. But leave it to Hollywood to miss everything truthful about Jesus and vomit up their version. Need proof…The movie “Noah”!!!! Nuff said." (Bill)
- "Based on what? There is no record anywhere of Jesus’ “formative years”. Another ‘Noah’ distortion, and complete fiction. But, this time against The Son of God. These people are really asking for it." (Chiliboots)
Actually, quite a bit has been written about Jesus’ formative years. Most of it can be found in the Apocrypha; that body of mostly anonymous ancient writings that didn’t make it into the canonical New Testament. There’s a story, for instance, of young Jesus bringing a clay dove to life. There’s another where he resurrects a child who’s killed after falling off a roof and at least two (in the Gospel of Thomas) where he curses another child who subsequently dies.
So you see, there's plenty of source material for a TV show about "Jesus, the Wonder Years" (my personal suggestion for a better series name).