Or perhaps Errol Flynn, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Russell Crow.
All the actors in the title and sub-heading of this article have one thing in common; they have all at some time played the part of Robin Hood.
Richard Greene, as in the title, is the actor I most remember playing Robin, in the 1950s black and white television series, The Adventures Of Robin Hood. Along with the names in the sub-heading are others I haven’t mentioned, that have also played Robin at some time. But what has that got to do with playing Jesus? To the best of my knowledge, none of them have played that role, so please bear with me for a few minutes to let me explain.
Clearly the outlaw Robin Hood , legend or real, and Jesus are very different men, from different times but I have discovered a number of similarities between them, possibly more similarities than at first look is obvious. Both of them were at odds with the authorities of the time but to begin with, consider where they lived. Not the geography, but the political situation.
Both Jesus and Robin lived in occupied territory, under the control of hostile armies. In the time of Jesus, Israel, his homeland, was under the boot of the Roman Empire and their Emperor Tiberius. England, in Robin’s, was time also under the regime of an illegitimate power power occupying the country. Prince John, attempting to usurp the throne of his brother Richard who was away fighting in the crusades was in command of the army and ruling the land with an iron fist.
In Jerusalem the Romans’ local ‘man on the spot’, who was instrumental in Jesus crucifixion, even though he ‘washed his hands’ of blame was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the province appointed by the Emperor. We probably all remember from the television and movies, especially if you saw the Robin Hood film Prince of Thieves film, Robin’s would be nemesis was the Sheriff of Nottingham (memorably played by Alan Rickman, even upstaging Costner as Robin). Both these men were representing the occupying forces ruler.
The similarities don’t end there either. Both Jesus and Robin had radical ideas and philosophies for their time, accepting that their means of achieving their aims were quite different. They were both ‘thorns in the side’ of the authorities of the time, frequently upsetting the status quo that the ruling powers were intent on maintaining.
Jesus and Robin were both champions for the common man (and woman) and the poor, each challenging the ‘legitimate’ authorities in their own different ways, to try and bring justice, fairness and peace in their respective homelands. Jesus used words, intellect and personal example, peaceful actions and, ultimately, his own sacrifice. Robin used a bow-and-arrow taking more direct action, although it my belief that Robin didn’t take killing lightly and only when unavoidable in defence.
There is at least one other aspect I noticed, unless you can think of more, of Robin and Jesus that they had in common; they both had a band of followers. In Jesus case it was the Disciples and for Robin his followers were customarily referred to as his ‘Merry Men’. Just like Jesus had is favourites amongst the Disciples, seemingly Peter and the Sons of Thunder, James and John, So it would appear did Robin. The man from Sherwood Forrest appeared to favour Little John and Will Scarlet.
I suspect there might be other parallels in the stories, these are the ones that occurred to me. Please Let me know in Comments if you come up with any others.
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through being a legend. I
want to achieve immortality through not dying.” – Robin Hood
One last thought: they both achieved immortality (think about it).
This article was inspired by a short passage in Graham Tomlin’s book, The Provocative Church.