Whoosh! Issue 36 - September 1999

FOURTH SEASON SAVIOR FIGURE: ELI OR XENA?
IAXS project #724
By Dana Hlusko
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
1233 words



Introduction (01-02)
Eli and Jesus Christ (03-07)
Xena as "Savior" (08-13)
Conclusion (14)
Biography



Fourth Season Savior Figure: Eli or Xena?



Two saviours, no waiting


Xena and Eli meet for the first time in DEVI.



Introduction

[1] Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) has always espoused the philosophy of sacrificial love, e.g., THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313). Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, XWP has flirted with a savior theme. Season 3 showed us the nature of pure love in SACRIFICE II (68/322) when Gabrielle sacrificed herself by jumping, with Hope, into the volcanic abyss to save Xena from having her life cut short by the Fates. In Season 4, Xena was willing to die in THE WAY (84/416) to save Gabrielle from Indrajit.

[2] Season 4 was primarily concerned with the spiritual journeys of Gabrielle and Xena. At first it looked like Gabrielle was the one on the journey, but Xena actually received an answer to her unspoken prayers by having her warrior path validated by Krishna in THE WAY (84/416). Gabrielle assumed for herself the path of peace and love after meeting Eli, who appears on the surface to represent Jesus in the Xenaverse.


Eli and Jesus Christ

When carpets make good clothing


Although officially denied, there are many similarities between Eli and Jesus.


[3] In Eli, the Xena writers have presented a character faintly resembling the historic/spiritual personage known as Jesus. How does he resemble or differ from the Jesus spoken of in the Christian scriptures? As Jesus did, Eli speaks of love as being the greatest force in the world. He frequently speaks of love and peace as the true path but gives no road map for operationalizing love. Did Eli speak of clothing the naked, feeding the poor, and visiting the sick? No, just love.

[4] Jesus commanded His followers to help others (Matthew 25: 31-40). Unlike Jesus, Eli speaks of becoming an empty vessel in order to fill oneself with love. This is a similar philosophy to the one taught by Aiden in PARADISE FOUND (81/413), but in PARADISE FOUND Gabrielle's physical self and soul were almost taken from her by Aiden's power.

[5] Eli will not fight or defend himself or others. Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but He also wreaked havoc in the Temple over the moneychanger's tables (Mark 11:15).

[6] In THE WAY (84/416) and IDES OF MARCH (89/421), Eli does two curious things before he heals someone. In THE WAY (416) he asks the father of the sick child if he has done everything possible to cure her, as if a negative answer would then cause him to withhold his healing touch. In IDES OF MARCH, before curing the sick youth, he touches the boy's chest and says, "Your heart is pure". This gives you the idea that only those with pure hearts (and this is defined how?) can be healed by Eli.

[7] Jesus healed all who came to Him, whether they were believers or not (Matthew 4:24). He even healed a woman who merely touched His robe as He walked by (Matthew 9:20-22). Jesus did not run from death as Eli did. When Eli and company were in the Roman prison and Xena provided the opportunity to escape, Eli took that opportunity, running for his life with little regard for the safety of those that he called friends. Jesus was ever mindful of His friends, even after death, "I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to guard them from the evil one" (John 17: 9-19).


Xena as "Savior"

Do you wash angel wings in hot water or cold?


Xena is very angelic at the conclusion of IDES OF MARCH.


[8] On the other hand, the Xena writers have given us the character of Xena, who has behaved more savior-like than the purported savior Eli. How does Xena resemble or differ from the Jesus spoken of in the Christian scriptures?

[9] Unlike Jesus, who had no sin, Xena is a walking tower of sinful deeds. Like the first disciples, however, she has turned from sin to be redeemed.

[10] In her last days, Xena was tempted by a "demonic" entity, with Callisto as the messenger, to turn from her way and follow a path not hers. In doing so, Callisto promised, Xena and Gabrielle would be saved from crucifixion. This is similar to the temptation of Christ in the desert as He began His ministry: "The devil then took him up a very high mountain and displayed before him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, promising, 'All these will I bestow on you if you prostrate yourself in homage before me'" (Matthew 4: 8-10). As Jesus rebuked Satan, Xena also rebuked evil's minion, Callisto.

[11] Just as Jesus knew His fate if He went to Jerusalem, so Xena knew what awaited her as she rode to the snowy mountain to save Gabrielle. It would have been easier for her to focus on killing Caesar in Rome, hoping that what she did there would halt the crucifixion of Gabrielle, but her unselfish love took her to Gabrielle's side, just as Jesus's unselfish love for us took Him to Jerusalem.

[12] In the Garden of Gethsemane, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter took his sword and cut off a servant's ear (John 18: 10). So Gabrielle took up the sword in a futile attempt to save Xena. Then, just as Jesus ordered Peter to put away his sword, Xena urged Gabrielle to stop fighting. Xena would rather die, accepting her fate, than have Gabrielle give up all she had been working toward.

[13] At the very least, Xena and Gabrielle have acted as the first disciples did, giving of themselves to those they love. This giving has gone as far as a willingness to give up their very lives for their belief in someone they loved, in this case, each other.


Conclusion

[14] Whether the similarities between Jesus and Xena were intentional (and no sacrilege is intended in this essay), once again, the XWP writers have given us a feast for thought. This was one of the most powerful of the Xena plot arcs. It gave us a figure somewhat Jesus-like, but Eli was weak and infinitely UN-savior-like. By contrast, it showed us that mere humans (Gabrielle in the third season, and Xena in the fourth), with all their "baggage" and weaknesses, are capable of overcoming all and rising to a kind of genuine greatness, even a kind of "Savior" status.



Biography

Dana Hlusko Dana Hlusko
I am a Registered nurse working in the field of computers, trying to convince nursing that a computer is a good patient care tool. I have published scholarly articles in professional journals. Writing about XWP allows me to write on a topic about which I have a real passion.

I gave up my passion for Star Trek: TNG for Xena. I am the mother of two wonderful children who make fun of Mom for her passions. I have three more dreams in life: to study theology, work on an archeological dig, and, first and foremost, I dream of being able to work on the Xena set.
Favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), FORGET ME NOT (63/317), ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202)
Favorite line: Xena: "I have many skills" KING CON (61/315), THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), etc.
First episode seen: THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)
Least favorite episode: Haven't found one yet.

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