Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jesus as Dennis the Menace in the Infancy Gospel

In a recent post on the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, I mentioned John Dominic Crossan's comparison of the child Jesus in the Infancy Gospel with Dennis the Menace.  When I heard him say "Dennis the Menace", I instantly thought of the character pictured above on the left, Dennis the Menace from the British comic The Beano.  It occurred to me later that since this was an American programme, Banned from the Bible, broadcast on the History Channel, he was perhaps referring to the character pictured in the middle above, the American Dennis the Menace, who is almost exactly the same age as his British namesake, both first published in March 1951.

But which one was John Dominic Crossan referring to?  Both of them are mischievous young boys, but my ignorance of the American version makes it difficult for me to compare and contrast.  The British Dennis is undoubtedly a "brat", but which would Crossan have known?  His time spent in both Ireland and America will have given him exposure to both versions, but I'd guess it's the American one he will have known best, perhaps especially if he has children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews over here.


Stephen C. Carlson said...

I'm not that familiar with the UK Dennis the Menace, but based on descriptions it seems that the US one is much more innocuous than the UK one. I would guess that the personality of the UK one is more like that of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, but it's hard to know what Crossan was thinking of.

Diane O'Reilly ACG said...

Yes, I am doing a talk on ADHD , and Dennis the menace is the poster child for the typical traits of ADHD.. I am british but have lived over here for 30 years so I can say yes the British Dennis the menace is more malevolent, nastier, and angrier than his American cousin who is naughty but cute, has good intentions but is clutzy...
I wonder at the difference, what does that say about us culturally? Are we angrier? lol.. anyway hope that helps