The Justice League of the Bible

A few summers ago, while teaching the adult Bible study at Seesalt, I made the following offhand comment about the importance of Moses: “If we were making a Justice League of Bible characters, Moses would definitely be in it. And we’re not talking like how Aquaman’s in the Justice League, Moses would be Batman.”

Later that day, I sat down to lunch with Zach Adams and T.J. Cofield. From there we set out to decide which Bible characters correlated to which Justice League members. Now we are talking about the original Justice League consisting of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman. I know that the New 52 has traded out J’onn J’onzz for Cyborg, but I’m sticking with the classic lineup. I have continued to tweak and process the implications of this list since that day a few years ago, but this list owes a huge debt to T.J. and Zach.

A disclaimer: This is just for fun. This is in no way suggesting there is an equality between comic book characters and Biblical figures. Of course, if you are easily offended by this, you probably shouldn’t read my blog. Ever. Though I’m sure you’re an upstanding person.

Also be warned that you should prepare yourself for some simultaneous comic book and Bible nerdiness.

The list:

  • Jesus = Superman
  • Moses = Batman
  • Mary, the Mother of Jesus = Wonder Woman
  • Paul = The Flash
  • Abraham = Green Lantern
  • David = Martian Manhunter
  • Noah = Aquaman

Tapping Jesus as Superman is a pretty obvious choice. Both were sent to earth as a baby. Both lived intentionally as humans even though they had a heritage (be it divine or Kryptonian) that could have allowed them to use their powers to conquer the world. Throw in the fact that both are the preeminent figures of their collective arena—Superman as the first and greatest among superheroes, Jesus as, well, the Son of God—and this is an easy choice.

Moses gets tabbed as Batman for more reasons than just that initial offhand comment being the origin of this list. Superman and Batman are the primary superheroes of the DC Universe; the World’s Finest. In a much greater way, Jesus and Moses are the main two figures that hover over the Bible (besides God the Creator). Also, Batman is most often associated with taking the law into his own hands and, scripturally speaking, Moses literally took the Law into his own hands; they were tablets. The similarities continue. Moses and Batman grew up in the lap of luxury, a murder significantly changed both lives, and each spent time abroad before returning home to make things right. To extend the comparison, this means Joshua would be Robin and Aaron would be Commissioner Gordon.

Even though there are many important females in the Bible, the Justice League has only one female. We had to make it count. Good cases could be made for a lot of Biblical females but it ultimately came down to Deborah and Mary the Mother of Jesus. This is actually the only one that I seriously considered changing from the first time I published this list. Deborah fits the mold of Wonder Woman a lot better. She’s a warrior and serves as leader of her people. Yet considering that I’m given only one female role, I couldn’t leave an individual of Mary’s importance on the sidelines.

We tagged Paul as The Flash because, like the Scarlet Speedster, the Apostle to the Gentiles was seemingly all over the place. He was always on the move: Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Athens, Rome, Jerusalem. Also, just as Barry Allen was bi-vocational in a way that each career supported the other (superhero/forensic scientist) so was Paul (apostle/tentmaker). And, yes, this means that Timothy is Kid Flash.

In that first conversation, T.J. selected Abraham for the Green Lantern slot. His reasoning was this: there are many Green Lanterns in the Green Lantern Corps. The one in the Justice League (Hal Jordan) is just the most famous one. As Hal is seen as the most prominent among many, Abraham is the first among many sons and daughters. That was his logic and totally made sense while I was eating waffle fries two years ago so I’ll let it stand. But here’s an additional corollary. There was a story when Hal tried to bend the rules the GL Corps is supposed to follow (he tried to resurrect his annihilated hometown of Coast City; it’s a long story involving Superman dying, an impostor Superman, and a yellow alien named Mongul). As a result, Hal went astray from what was intended. You could argue that Abraham went astray when he decided to sleep with Hagar since he and Sarah figured that Sarah was too old to bear children. Now Abraham did not become a supervillain that nearly destroyed the fabric of time as Hal did (long story short: he tried to undo the bad that he and everyone else had done by completely erasing time and starting from scratch), but strife was caused nonetheless.

J’onn J’onzz is a bit of a corollary to Superman. The two have very similar powers (the green guy actually has a few more). So they are alike yet very, very different. You could argue the same thing about David and Jesus. Throughout the New Testament there is a line drawn between David and Jesus. Yet just like the Martian Manhunter is simply not as great as Superman, David pales in comparison to Jesus.

For Aquaman, there were two obvious choices—John the Baptist and Noah—and a third—Peter, thanks to his walking on water—that made good sense as well. From a prophetic standpoint, it probably should have been John. From a church history standpoint, it should have been Peter. But if you asked the average person which of the three did they most recognize, Noah would probably get picked because the Ark story is more recognizable. So Noah is not nearly as important as J the B or Peter. But, let’s be honest, Aquaman probably brings the least to the table in the Justice League unless they’re in a situation where fish-communication is critical. There are probably more important superheroes out there. So it seems kind of fitting that Noah gets the nod.

So there you go. I actually have other corollaries that go deeper into the myriad of Justice League rosters. Perhaps one day, I’ll share why I think Elisha makes a great Animal Man, why Amos is a plausible Green Arrow, and how the Beloved Disciple could be a reasonable Jimmy Olsen. But those will have to wait for another time. Feel free to share your superhero-Bible character corollaries in the comments below.

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