I would like to compare the position of a character in a fictional story and the situation of Historical Jesus Proponents. The story is called “Superboy in the 50th Century” and appears in a comic book, Adventure Comics, published in December, 1960. It was written by Eando Binder (AKA Otto Oscar Binder). Binder was a science fiction writer, besides writing comic books. He is best known for his short story in [B]Amazing Fantasies Magazine[/B], “I, Robot,” published in 1939, which inspired Arthur C. Clark’s Book, “I, Robot,” published in 1950.
In the story, Superboy is flying through the air when he finds himself captured by a “Time Sampler Machine.” The Time machine brings him to the 50th Century where he meets the inventor Thaddee Lang and his daughter Lita Lang. They are both descendents of Superboy’s 20th Century girlfriend Lana Lang. Superboy soon finds out that the people of the 50th Century believe that Superboy was not a real historical person, but a myth like Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Mercury and Santa Claus. Only Lita Lang has kept the faith and believes that Superboy was a real historical figure.
Superboy tries to prove he is real by demonstrating his superpowers. Unfortunately, he finds that machines have been invented that can duplicate all of his superpowers (flying, super strength, x-ray vision, etc.). He claims that he does his superpowers without machines. The authorities respond that Professor Lang has invented superpills that can give people these powers without machines. They accuse him of being an alien from the planet Xanthia who stole the superpills. They threaten him with deportation back to Xanthia.
Given a short reprieve, he visits a Superboy museum that Lita Lang has set up. He is surprised to find out that only “the statue of liberty’s torch, a piece of the Eiffel Tower and the scoreboard from Yankee stadium” has survived from the 20th century. He also finds a mysterious rock which turns out to be white kryptonite, a type of kryptonite which does not harm him, but nevertheless has strange properties.
At this point a spaceship crashes into Earth unleashing spores that start to destroy all the vegetation on Earth. Superboy uses the white Kryptonite rock to destroy the spores and save the Earth. For saving the Earth, the authorities grant him honorary citizenship. However, Superboy refuses this and show them a Kryptonese inscription on the White Kryptonite rock.
This proves that planet Krypton was real and thus the legend of Superboy/Superman was not a legend, but an historical reality. Superboy flies back to the 20th Century having convinced the people of the 50th Century that he really existed.
In Narratological Theory, there is a separation between the fibula and the syuzhet. The fibula is the main events or raw material of the story, while the syzhet is how the story is told. We can look for the moment just at the fibula.
Now, we know that Superboy/Man does not exist. Only in the fibula of the story does Superboy/Superman exist. In the same way the people of the 50th century do not exist. Only in the fibula , do they exist. So a non-existent being convinces other non-existent beings of his historical existence in the non-historical fibula.
The problem for Superboy in the fibula is that his superpowers have been replicated by Science and cannot be used as proof that he is Superboy. One can easily imagine a story about Jesus Christ in the same situation. All of Jesus’ Christ’s miracles are today easily duplicated by science or machines, so his magical powers, such as healing a crippled or blind man, would fail to convince a critical modern audience that it was him.
In the comic book, Superboy ultimately has to rely on archaeology to prove his existence. He has to produce an artifact from the planet Krypton to prove his existence. One can easily imagine that Jesus Christ would need to do the same thing. It is hard to imagine though, what Jesus Christ could produce to prove his existence.
Since Jesus Christ has not come back, those with an historical Jesus prospective have to take his place in the story. They must substitute themselves for him and seek out the archaeological evidence. They must find the artifact, the rock from the planet Krypton, that will prove his existence.