Below are reviews and other media coverage by Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Christianity Today and the Fox News Channel. Where available, the coverage is linked to the original source. (Note: The special features mentioned in some reviews are only available on the DVD.)
Brian Flemming's The God Who Wasn't There falls into the newish classification of highly opinionated documentary ("op-doc"?) -- foregoing a more balanced presentation in favor of overt agenda-pushing. Still, the agenda in question is one that's been given precious little voice lately: atheism, or, more specifically, questioning the true origins of Christianity.
So, did Jesus exist? Flemming taps his sense of humor (deadpan narration; a rapid-fire, Hollywoodized race through the life of Jesus; adding up all the acts of violence in The Passion of the Christ) and the talking heads of authors, historians and folklorists to state his case. He also visits his devoutly Christian alma mater and lobs faith-vs.-science questions at its stone-faced superintendent.
The God Who Wasn't There may not make "the perfect holiday gift" (as it's cheekily advertised on the film's Web site) for the millions of evangelicals who are pretty much running the show in America these days, but it's thought-provoking enough to maybe crack open a few closed minds. DVD extras include extended interviews and an "Explore the Myth" slide show that expands on the film's themes; the two commentary tracks with Richard Dawkins and Earl Doherty are actually audio interviews conducted by Flemming.
There's also a section that deconstructs Mel Gibson's sanguine modern masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ. Flemming takes us down the brutally bloody road of the last days of Christ as depicted by Gibson and exposes Gibson's film as an exercise in excessive bloodlust. There is a lengthy scrolling run of text that lists every page of the screenplay wherein a bloody act is perpetrated on screen and, as dozens and dozens of pages go by, he makes the case for indulgent overkill on Gibson's part, seen in some ways as an extension of Gibson's religious extremism. The entire sequence is a knock-out, and, if nothing else, this film should be recognized as an important addition to the study of Gibson's masterwork.
Film scholars should take note. This is an idiosyncratic film that weaves the arc of Flemming's transition from a religious life to a non-religious life into the larger questions surrounding the dilemma of a "belief in God." It's a bold undertaking and he pulls it off. There are interviews with writers Sam Harris and Richard Carrier that are, unfortunately, too brief and choppy, but there is also 259 minutes of bonus material that features commentary by Richard Dawkins. A nice stocking stuffer for the atheist or the fundie on your X-Mas list.
--Anthony Mark Happel Impose Magazine
The God Who Wasn't There review by David Mills, author of Atheist Universe:
I found this DVD both richly entertaining and extremely informative. Having been an atheist myself for over thirty years now, I considered myself knowledgeable on the subject matter of this DVD. Yet I was surprised - and quite delighted - by how much new insight I gained from this superb documentary.
For example, I did not previously realize that the Pauline Epistles make no reference at all to the virgin birth, to Mary and Joseph, to Bethlehem, to Herod, to *any* words allegedly spoken by Jesus, to anything pertaining to Jesus' earthly ministry, nor to any of the miracles Jesus supposedly performed. Paul mentions only the cruci-"fiction," resurrection and ascension, tales handed down to Christianity from older mythologies, as Brian Flemming powerfully demonstrates here.
Better than any other source I've seen, this DVD explains how the time-gap between Jesus' alleged death and the writing of the Gospels lends credibility to the assertion that Jesus probably never existed. Moreover, even if Jesus did exist, the stories surrounding him, such as the slaughter of the innocents, have no historical corroboration and therefore lead an objective viewer of this DVD to conclude that the Gospel accounts couldn't possibly be true (whether or not Jesus existed).
This documentary was also extremely funny where appropriate. When Brian Flemming summarized the highlights of Jesus' career, the footage running in the background - along with Flemming's casual manner of speaking - left me laughing more boisterously than I have since watching the original Monty Python episodes. What was especially funny was that Flemming's summary of the Gospels was perfectly on-target and did not distort scripture in any way. The DVD therefore succeeded in showing that the Bible, when viewed objectively, is truly laughable.
I also thoroughly enjoyed this DVD because I got to see video of individuals whose writings I have admired for years, such as Bob Price, Sam Harris, and Richard Carrier. People sometimes come across differently on camera than they do in print. But all of the extended interviews on the DVD showcased the intellect of these scholars as impressively as their books.
The physical production and packaging of this DVD are equivalent to anything marketed by Sony Pictures or Warner Brothers. I was expecting to receive a one-off DVD with an adhesive label. But what I received was a highly professional product in every sense of the word. My enthusiastic compliments to Brian Flemming and to everyone who participated in this important project. I hope that additional DVDs will be forthcoming.
Author of "Atheist Universe"
Other The God Who Wasn't There reviews and media coverage
Newsweek: Imaginary Friend?
"Brian Flemming's most famous project was 2001's Bat Boy: The Musical, an off-Broadway show based on the tabloid-created bat child. Now he's turned his attention to a figure he claims is equally fictional: Jesus Christ. His new documentary, The God Who Wasn't There, irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed."
Los Angeles Times: Documentary Questions Existence of Jesus
"Asked why he chose to question Jesus' existence instead of his divinity, Flemming said: 'I think that the idea that an individual could be the son of a god is already so ridiculous it doesn't need to be debunked.'"
Christianity Today: Debunking Jesus?
"What if Jesus never existed? How much do Christians know about the origins of their faith? And are we willing to talk about it? These are some of the questions explored in The God Who Wasn't There, an irreverent Michael Moore-like documentary."
Fox News Channel: Interview with director Brian Flemming
This interview by a very worked-up John Kasich is not focused on The God Who Wasn't There. Kasich interviews Flemming about a controversial promotion called "The Blasphemy Challenge," in which 1001 free DVDs of The God Who Wasn't There were given away to people who YouTubed themselves denouncing the Holy Spirit -- an act that is uniquely and permanently "unforgivable" according to Bible lore.
DVD TalkThe God Who Wasn't There review What if God Wasn't One of Us?
"The God Who Wasn't There is going to feel like a knife to the heart for those who subscribe to Christianity without thought."
Ruthless ReviewsThe God Who Wasn't There review More Films Like This Are Needed
"My favorite part was Flemming's smart and welcomed deconstruction of Mel Gibson's S&M snuff flick, The Passion of the Christ. Highly recommended."