I've read on one of the forums once:

We learn this from a guy named Elliot S! Maggin (yes, he spells his name with an exclamation point), who wrote the Superman strip in the 70s and 80s. His notes on all the characters mentioned their religious affiliations, and reveal that Jimmy Olsen is Lutheran, Lois Lane is RC, Lex Luthor is a non-observant Jew - and Clark Kent is Methodist.

What exactly is the out-of-universe origin of the idea that Lex Luthor is Jewish? The quote above makes it sound like Maggin didn't invent the idea, merely documented it, though I could be wrong.

Does it originate with Siegel and Schuster? Someone else?

I'd prefer somewhat documented evidence over speculation.

2 Answers 2


Silver Age Lex Luthor which Elliot S! Maggin was allowed to write a novel (Last Son of Krypton) using the character described him in that publication as Jewish.

From: TVtropes: Ambiguously Jewish

Elliot S! Maggin stated that he saw Lex Luthor as Jewish, and has the character use some Yiddish as a Second Language in his novel Last Son Of Krypton. It should be noted that A) this was Silver Age Luthor, who was not a Corrupt Corporate Executive whose primary trait is greed, B) Maggin is Jewish, and C) Maggin is very, very fond of Luthor.

  • 1
    I think this is a better answer than mine....
    – AncientSwordRage
    Oct 23, 2012 at 19:33
  • I actually agree with much of your answer at the end. Luthor may have had some religious upbringing but whatever it is, he has completely run off the rails regarding it. A good writer might be able to bring it around full circle pushing the "Superman as a messiah angle". Oct 23, 2012 at 19:53
  • @Thaddeus - but my question was not whether Maggin's Luthor was Jewish (which is stated as a "yes in the question itself, albiet in a less clar form than your quote), but did the idea originate with Maggin or someone before that? Oct 24, 2012 at 23:43

I don't believe so...

From adherants.com

Lex Luthor is depicted as a Nietzschean atheist in comics, although he is rarely (if ever) overtly identified by name as such.

The 1980s live-action television series Superboy portrayed a college-age Lex Luthor as an Episcopalian Protestant who enters an Episcopalian monastery as a monk in response to a lab accident that renders him bald.

And more from the site:

Clearly Luthor is not an adherent of any organized religion. However, Elliot S! Maggin, an observant Jew who is one of Superman's most popular and influential writers, has stated that Luthor is a non-observant Jew. Given Lex Luthor's utter disinterest in traditional organized religion and moral value systems, it is not surprising that his character never refers to any religious upbringing or religious ethnicity.

There seems to be little printed textual support for identifying Luthor as Jewish. But the theory certainly is plausible in a world where many of history's real-life brilliant world-changing atheists (or agnostics) have been Jewish, including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Franz Kafka, Noam Chomsky, etc. (The obvious difference, of course, is that Luthor is evil while these other individuals, regardless of whether or you agree with them or not, were not evil.)

So whilst a contemporary writer may frame him as a non-observant jew, there's no evidence anywhere of this origin, or any real religious indications. Except in the live action Superboy, where he joined a bunch of episcopalian monks but that had Superboy fighting mormons with lasers (?) so I'm not sure it should be followed.

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