Are Jesus and Dracula the same person? The seven key clues….

02/02/09 | Posted by feihero

Once bitten forever smitten. Or so it would seem. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 14 year-old fan of Twilight, a Victorian reader of Bram Stoker, or a medieval French clegyman writing a report of unsettling happenings in your parish. Once you’ve glimpsed the pale and interesting face of vampirism, you fall under its spell. There can have been few things more resilient, more contagious, or more epidemic in the human imagination, you might think, than the idea of vampires.

They are an archetypal monster that people all over the world seem to have conjoured from their graveyards, since we started burying people sometime around 40,000 BC. But this is not the case. Vampires are not universal. They are uniquely, and specifically, Christian. Or rather, their spectre rose and has persisted only in Christian culture. Some people have gone as far as to suggest that Jesus and Dracula might be the same person. Blasphemy? There are 7 reasons you might come to such an extraordinary conclusion…

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 Let the right one in…

You should always pay attention to things that come back from the dead. In fact, anything that returns or repeats deserves considering carefully. Themes and patterns – these are the foundations of human learning. So - two consecutive quarterly downturns in the economy sounds warning bells. Recession. On the other hand you should always be on the lookout for anomalies, exceptions – things that only happen once, or are without precedent. So - a black man in the White House rightly triggers fanfares. Breakthrough.

But what if something was both unheard of and a return? Well, you really ought to take notice of that. So – if anyone comes back from the dead there ought to be bells jingling, or trumpets blaring. And if they come to your door, you should be thinking very carefully about whether you invite them in or not. Which brings me to my point.

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 Twilight


In the past few weeks, the top 3 UK paperbacks, the bestselling hardback, one of the top ten films, a prime-time Saturday night TV show and a new series from BBC3, not to mention a host of repeated movies and rerun television programmes, have all shared one subject matter. Not recession, not the first black US President, but…vampires. The un-dead. These anomalies that simply will not go away. Why are we still talking about them? Why 978 years after the first official report of someone coming out of his tomb at night to drink the blood of the living are they still haunting, not just our dreams, but our waking thoughts? And why do vampires exist only in Christian cultures? Is there really a sinister reason why Jesus and Dracula are never seen in the same room?

Here is some of the evidence that explores that question.
In more detail below.

  • “Walking about just like regular people” - Why not being a ghost is important.
  • “I believe I can fly” – On being transformed and staying the same.
  • “It’s in his blood” – Why this bloodthirsty obsession with claret?
  • “Convert or die” – The necessity of adding daily to your number.
  • “Cut off the head and the body will whither” – How a movement is changed by having an undead leader.
  • “How to kill immortals” - Crosses, piercing, Holy Water and…garlic?
  • “By invitation only” – The gentleman wishes you to choose…
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“Walking about just like regular people” - Why not being a ghost is important

The first and most obvious similarity between Dracula and Jesus is the refusal to lie down and die. In fact, this is a crucial distinctive of vampires from similar terrors in other times and places.

The ancient world boasted a number of blood drinking monsters – the Lamiae, Empusae and Striges of Greek antiquity for example, who combined flight, feminine beauty, sexual voracity, and a tendency to drain the blood of their victims - usually babies or sleeping men. These seem to share with the Hebrew queen of Demons (and Adam’s first wife) Lilith, the ability to embody a lot of our night-time fears and fantasies about, well, feminine beauty and sexual voracity (and our dread of previous lovers). As well as the inexplicable horror of infant death. But despite the prevalence of femmes fatales in both vampire stories, and the real life incidents that have shaped them; despite the similarity between the Latin ‘striges’ and the Romanian word for vampire – ‘strigoi’; despite the fact that our own term for a dangerously seductive female is a ‘vamp’, and despite the general importance of some deadly attractiveness in most renditions of the vampire myth, these creatures of old differ from Dracula and his kind in a fundamental way. They do not have a human body. And they have not risen bodily from the grave.

This is the thumping heart of vampire nature. A heart. Physicality. Bodily resurrection. From the very earliest tales of corpses buried outside consecrated ground being repeatedly discovered away from their graves, the belief in vampires reflect a very Christian idea of life after death. Fuelled as they were initially by reports from priests, and the theories of the church, they depend on a belief that, though the soul is the thing that gives a body its life, though the body can rot when the soul departs, it is possible for dry bones to live again if the soul should returns. These are not ghosts - returning spirits. They echo, instead, the central image of Christian faith – a man risen from his tomb.

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 Bat?Man?

“I believe I can fly” – On being transformed and staying the same.

By the same token, it is important that these creatures were once recognised as men. Vampires are not demons. In fact, demonised figures from history, like Gilles de Rais (1440), Vlad Tepes (1476) who inspired Bram Stoker, and Arnold Paola (1726) who gave us the first use of the name ‘vanpir’, remind us that what is truly unnerving about the vampire is his human face. The fact that they once walked around like regular people, and now they do again, even though we know them to be dead and buried. Like Jesus, who pointed out his ability to eat to terrified disciples thinking he was a ghost, and showed the bloody solidity of his flesh to those that doubted it was him, it is the appetite of the vampire, the recognisable humanity, that appeals and appals.
 
Of course – Jesus was never quite the same once he’d come back from the dead. There was his uncanny ability to appear and disappear at will, to enter locked rooms and apparently to transform his appearance. And these are similarly enduring characteristics in our vampires – in modern renditions they simply move so quickly as to deceive the eye – but traditionally they have had the ability to take the form of a bat. This particular twist emerged after French Naturalist Count Leclerc de Buffon (1760) named a blood sucking species of the nocturnal mammal Diphylla Ecaudata – ‘vampire bat’. But although it is not a feature of any of the earlier vampire myths, it has certainly captured the imagination – perhaps because of this combination of similarity and difference – this ‘one of us but not one of us’ quality - that both defines the uncanny, and describes all our archetypal heroes. 

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 In the Blood

“It’s in his blood” – Why this bloodthirsty obsession with claret?

The bat got its name, of course, because of it’s hunger for blood, and this is the second key feature of the true vampire. Not only must it be a human returned from the dead, but it’s new life must depend on blood.

This need for blood is a constant in the myths and religions of every culture, from Aztec fertility rites to the Arcadian banquets where participants ate the body of a victim sacrificed to Zeus. But, in the Christian Old and New Testaments, it provides a dominant theme. Blood sacrifice was at the heart of Jewish worship, Leviticus insists that “the life of all flesh is the blood” (Leviticus 17 vv 4), and, as Christianity began to spread, it in turn brought with it a central and defining ritual. The eating and drinking of the body and blood of Jesus. If this ‘Communion’ was believed to confer immortality on those who shared in the willing sacrifice of Christ, it is easy to imagine how the idea of the blood of innocents carrying rejuvenating properties might have taken hold. In 785 Charlemagne had to use the death sentence to dissuade converted Saxons from actually eating human flesh; in the 11th Century doctors prescribed the blood of virgin girls as a cure for all kinds of sickness; and the famous ‘real-life vampire’ -Transylvanian Countess Erzsebet Bathory (1611) drank and bathed in the blood of her young female victims.

In this case, whilst Christian beliefs might again have fuelled vampire-like practices and then vampire stories, there is a clear difference between Dracula et al. and Jesus. Jesus is one innocent man whose blood many feed off in order to live forever, whilst Dracula feeds off the blood of many innocents in order to maintain his immortal life. A dark inversion. clearly. But it’s not quite as simple as that.

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 Pass it on…

“Convert or die” – The necessity of adding daily to your number.

Because all of the vampire’s victims also live forever. There is an element of vampirism that echoes in a more straightforward way the church’s understanding of the process of living eternally. Just as Jesus made disciples, and instructed them to do the same – informing them, in the Gospel of John, that it was only in the twin process of being connected to him and bringing others into that connection that would sustain and nourish their new life – so our vampires are able to remain alive only by the act of turning other mortals into the undead. Each person they bite will become one of their number, it seems, but refuse to bite anyone and your immortal days are, well, if not entirely over, at least some way short of blossoming. But at the same time, theirs is also a twin process. Bearing fruit by forming new converts is one half of the equation. Maintaining a link with the root of the whole process is the other.

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 Love never dies

“Cut off the head and the body will whither” – How a movement is changed by having an undead leader.

Not only does belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus provide the fertile ground from which vampires can emerge, but key elements of Christian theology seem to have forged facets of the Dracula myth taken up by many vampire stories. And the idea that each vampire can be traced back by a kind of macabre bloodline to the original - to the first one to return from the dead – is another example. In a great many vampire tales killing the original vampire sees all the others – whose ‘lives’ are somehow drawn from his – crumble back to dust. Similarly the church has always maintained that each one of its members, sustained by Jesus’ blood, depend on him for life, in the way a body depends on its heart, or its head.

Which raises a critical question and a crucial distinction.

If a movement – a breed in fact – only exists as long as its (once dead) leader is alive. What would happen if you could kill him?

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 Vampire Killing Kit

“How to kill immortals” - Crosses, piercing, Holy Water and…garlic?

There is a great deal of debate in vampire lore as to how exactly they can be killed. The Romanians thought garlic, or the fat of a pig butchered on St. Ignatius Day, would help. In Saxony they opted for lemons. Which are good for colds, but might not cut it with nightwalkers. Whereas in Russia, the recommended poppy seeds were just to slow the vampires down - in a curious foreshadowing of Sesame Street’s “The Count”, they believed the monster would pause to gather each seed in turn. But if you want to actually kill an immortal then, unsurprisingly, the instrument of choice is a cross. It’s not just that crosses repel vampires. The stake through the heart, which all recognise as the sure fire coup de grace, was originally fashioned from aspen (the wood supposedly used for Christ’s cross) or hawthorn (because of the thorns of the crown Jesus was crucified in). Some traditions do hold that, as Christ’s side was ultimately pierced by steel, a blade consecrated by a priest might also do the trick. But either way the central motif is easy to spot.

Wittingly or otherwise, the tellers of these vampire tales have recognised that the paradox of Christian belief is also their paradox. How can something that is eternal die? The answer they came up with, in one sense, is just lifted from the Christian story. A cross. But, again, there’s more to it than that. Firstly, it is worth noting that we felt it necessary in the first place to include in our vampire stories the fact that they could be killed. And secondly, it is not incidental that in the original story the cross did not kill Jesus. At least not for long.

Because here is another of the critical differences between Dracula and Jesus. At the head of the legion of the undead we call vampires is Dracula – one who can in fact die. At the head of those who have derived new and everlasting life from Jesus - is the one who cannot. So whilst one of our two protagonists occupies the box seat, the other may well end up back in his box when the game is done. For all that they echo, some might say parody, the gospel story, our vampire stories work to preserve just this hierarchy. And they capture much of it in their symbolism of light and dark.

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 Ill met by moonlight

Prince of Darkness?

Vampires remain limited creatures – confined to night – withering as the dawn blossoms; where Jesus’ imagery is that of ever brightening light, of the sun itself, his dark counterpart walks only by the reflected glow of the moon. One story carries cold light-of-day reality in its hope, the other has to feed off the doubts and shadows that light leaves in its wake.

Of course, as with any complex or long-standing myth, there are numerous approaches to vampirism that will yield interesting questions. An evolutionary one might sense the lurking fears of a creature, that wasn’t always top of the food chain, in images of our throats exposed to this predator’s fangs. A sociological one might wonder at how the most fertile periods for vampire stories coincide with a deep fear of viral outbreaks – the bubonic plague in the 18th Century for example. A psychotherapist might point out the time we all fed on blood in a realm of darkness – in the womb. But the most interesting question remains – why these elements, which are part of so many of our superstitions, should coagulate into this particular form in our particular culture?

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 A pale reflection

Seen in a new light?

The psychoanalyst Carl Jung tells of a seminal dream in which he was running for his life, at night in a dark forest, pursued by a looming monster he could not seem to escape. The only comfort he had, and the only thing that would light his path as he fled, was the flickering candle he clutched in his hand. All he knew was that he could not slow down, and that he must not let the candle go out. When he awoke, however, it was clear to him that the monster he had been fleeing was the shadow cast by the candle in his hand.

Is it possible that the grotesque form of the vampire depends upon the light of the gospel stories in precisely this way? If Jesus is a figure of hope for humanity lost in the woods, might vampires simply be what the new life he embodies would look like if seen through our imperfections? Or how his illuminating teachings would shape up if re-cast by the dark side of our nature? If so it might explain the appalling similarities between vampire behaviour and some of the ways the church has interpreted following Jesus over the centuries.

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 I stand at the door and knock

“By invitation only” – The gentleman wishes you to choose…

Either way one thing is clear. Whether Dracula is just a shadow cast by Jesus.  Or whether, just as it is easier to stare at the moon than to gaze at the sun it reflects - we simply find it less painful to contemplate a darker refraction of this blazing figure of a man, risen from the grave and fully, eternally alive. Both characters are clear that in the end, the decision – should I look upon this at all? Should I invite this person into my world, into my home, or not?  That decision rests always, and only, with us.

Jesus famously said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” Vampires, as everybody knows cannot cross a threshold without being invited. So given the similarities, I recommend you think it through.

And let the right one in.

 

 

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As a Christian I find this article disturbing.  It is well researched and I know you are fishing in a pool of young people to whom the words and images in this article are mild, but are you perhaps fishing with the devil’ bait? 
In thinking why vampires are popular might it be the fact that as they are already dead they are beyond hurt, and so attractive to young people who feel hurt easily and are often bullied.  Linking in with gothic themes.
In an article of this type please do remember to remind the young people that Jesus is the most powerful being in the universe being 5,000 million times more powerful than any vampire or demon.

#1. By M.Clarke on February 04, 2009

Jesus is the opposite to Dracula. How can you compare a figure of darkness and occultic to a holy figure of light? Vampires like darkness and hate the ‘light’ and Jesus is the ‘light’ and wants us out of the darkness. Terrible crimes have been made by people devoted to vampire culture (google it) and nothing is holy about vampire culture.

#2. By catriona on February 13, 2009

I find the article both informative, and challenging. I feel we as Christians should be fully aware of the appeal in any aspect of our culture that competes with the appeal of Christ. In reading the article it is obvious the writer is asking us to see the light and Truth of Christ as the solution and answer to the questions many ask in life, that may easily lead them into the occult and less seriously, the fantasy of vampires.

#3. By Lizzie on February 15, 2009

M.Clarke-
thanks for specifying the precise figures in that Jesus:Vampire power gap, i was foolishly under the impression that the Alpha and Omega’s power was beyond measure..

Catriona-
“One story carries cold light-of-day reality in its hope, the other has to feed off the doubts and shadows that light leaves in its wake” ... i’d say that’s pretty much as ‘opposite’ as it gets.. and as for comparisons between good and evil, and their (until tested and proven false) APPARENT similarities, the antichrist himself, we’re told, despite talking like a dragon will look like a ‘Lamb’ (rev13:11)...

as well as actually needing to READ the articles it wrongly rebukes, the church needs to appreciate the essentiality of work like this..

we need more of it; to challenge us, to “disturb” us, to force us to examine who, or what, we are… AND who, or what, we’ve REALLY come to trust in…

cheers FeifHero

#4. By Constantine on February 17, 2009

Absolutely wonderful.  I googled Jesus and Dracula because I was just lightly thinking about how I believe, they are similiar, both historical people who were given other worldly powers and titles, their stories fictionalized, and believed by many.  I hadn’t thought how closely the two resemble each other…

WONDERFUL!

#5. By Eric on March 29, 2009

Well said! I Love this article! Everything from Dracula to Twilight…want to see something related to this article…Google The Vampire Lizzy Christ!
www.myspace.com/
thevampirelizzychrist

#6. By Leva on January 28, 2010

This was a very interesting reading. I am a Christian and one, I was a bit disturbed and intrigued by the title of this article so I read it out of curiosity. You seem to have good points and I like the way you spaced out your opinions and facts. However, I noticed you have no works cited page. There many facts that you stated that I had a hard time believing to be true. For example:
“The stake through the heart, which all recognise as the sure fire coup de grace, was originally fashioned from aspen (the wood supposedly used for Christ’s cross) or hawthorn (because of the thorns of the crown Jesus was crucified in).”
I would very much like to know where you found this and several other statements you chose to put into your argument. I disagree with this article strongly, and I am a bit saddened that you feel this way. If you would like to have a deeper discussion about my thoughts, please contact me at justwinglessme@yahoo.com
Thank you.

#7. By Iris on April 10, 2010

As a human being who identifies that no matter who or what calls them God doesn’t matter if they arn’t believed in, that this article is beautiful. Tell me I go to hell, I dare you. I will then tell you that God does not allow you permission to judge as he does. While I drink the blood of the innocent, you can #### the ass of a goat.

#8. By Craig on October 18, 2011

Neat article! I think as Christians, we should step back and stop being so offended by everything.

Vampires are a reverse analogy—they help us understand what we are and who we are.

What’s striking to us about the vampire myth is just how powerful vampires are. If you think about it, Christians are vastly more powerful because of their connection to Christ.

Remember, Satan has a way of copying Jesus because he wants to badly to be equal with him. Satan is weak and limited, but any chance he can get he will try to distract us from our true inheritance.

#9. By Ally on January 24, 2012

This article discusses a notion that I’ve heard many times before.  Granted - Initially - it insults the supreme deity of the one Christ, but if you read through and you’re mature enough you can see what the author is attesting. 

IMO the article is too long, and a dangerous notion for the spiritually immature.  There are too many Christians sharply divided over regular concepts such which day the Sabbath is on and the race of Jesus, to digest a concept as extraordinary as this. 

I pray that everyone who reads this will do so with wisdom, and fortitude… Seeing it to the end, and to understand ultimately that there may be some similarities but Jesus Christ is a historical and proven figure.  Vampires are by popular accounts fictitious.  There is only one Son of God and His name is above every name, and He alone is Lord!

#10. By MissLlah on April 12, 2014

I love this concept. We forget that Jesus threw over tables in revolt of the wicked ways of evil doers. He had a little streak of vengeance. And none more rightfully deserving. His father “denied” him on tbe cross leaving him to suffer unheard of torture. No one came to save him. It plain and simple shouldn’t have happened. And he rises to an after life where he has to save every man woman and child alive and yet to come? He’s a bit overworked. Jesus was also a man. How did Dracula kill his victims? He impaled them with a spear much like the spear that pierced through Jesus’ side. God is perfect good. Jesus takes the fall for the vengeful spirit of God. And Satan takes the fall (literally) for all the crazy stuff Jesus rises to do that crosses the lines of…well…what we would expect. The many names of Belzebub?  I’m saying Jesus was his firsthe name. And I say this out of love and understanding of a tortured soul. I say we all give it up to all 3 of them.

#11. By Michelle on August 13, 2015

I WAS THINKING ABOUT THIS YO UND I WAS LIKE JESUS IS DRAC, YOU KNOW, MY FAM DRACULARH.

THIS WEDSIT IS MY THORTS.

TANKS

#12. By JamieMorten on March 29, 2017

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