Christian Allegory in BtVS/Ats

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Title: Christian Allegory in BtVS/Angel
Creator: thedeadlyhook
Date(s): early 2000s?
Medium: online
Fandom: Buffy & Angel
External Links: Christian Allegory, Archived version
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Christian Allegory in BtVS/Ats is an essay by thedeadlyhook.

It is one of many essays at Octaves, a Buffy and Angel website.

"The Jossverse is symbol-rich and this essay examines the Christian symbols in the shows."


Christian imagery has been used in BtVS almost since its inception - it's a story about vampires, so you get crosses, duh. Thematically, however, Christian metaphor only became a major influence on the story in S5. In "The Gift," Buffy is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice of her own life to save the world. That we're supposed to read this as Christlike is confirmed in a Whedon interview I've read, in which he specifically highlights the messianic imagery of "The Gift" ("flings her arms wide, and...").

Now I've talked about some of this before in regards to Chosen, which I saw as being yet another entry in a sort of messiah cycle, each season ending with another facet of Christian theory. In "The Gift," we saw Buffy selflessly offer up her life rather than sacrifice her sister. In "Grave," Xander calls himself a "carpenter" (just like Jesus!) and insists to Willow that his love for her is such that even her killing him can't change it. Then, in "Chosen," Spike, who used to be exactly the kind of villain Buffy and the Scoobies fought against, gives up his life to save the world.

What's so interesting about this sacrifice cycle is that it's additive - With Buffy, we get the relatively simple equation of "die for those you love"; Xander's example adds the requirement of love given without expectation of return or reward, willingly accepting even rejection, pain, or death (although Xander doesn't actually die, the offer is there); Spike's sacrifice combines all of these into a much more pointed portrait of a Jesus figure. His death is a trade of his life to save that which he loves, like Buffy's, and an expression of selfless, unconditional love that embraces even pain and death, like Xander's. Unlike Buffy, though, he's not surrounded with friends who love him back. Nor is he spared from actually having to make the sacrifice, like Xander was. Spike gets no last-minute reprieve. He's left to die alone and in pain for people who don't love him and won't miss him.