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The Passion of Mel Gibson
Time Magazine ^ | 01/27/03 | RICHARD CORLISS; JEFF ISRAELY

Posted on 01/29/2003 6:35:45 PM PST by TD911



Sunday, Jan. 19, 2003
The Passion of Mel Gibson

His Jesus film is bloody, bold — and in Aramaic. Here's an exclusive look

By

RICHARD CORLISS; JEFF ISRAELY

You may expect a certain tense solemnity when an Academy Award — winning director is shooting a film on the life and death of Jesus Christ. On the sound stage of The Passion in Rome's Cinecitta studio, the famed auteur prepares a scene for Maia Morgenstern, the Romanian actress playing the Virgin Mary. She is to enter the abandoned temple where her son has just been removed in chains on his way to Calvary. The director needs an enshrouding silence, so he shouts down some workmen's chatter. Then he coaxes the actress into a long, slow walk that hits the perfect notes of apprehension and anguish.

But since this director is Mel Gibson (who got his Oscar for Braveheart), the tone isn't always pious. Gibson loves to goof. Playing practical jokes is a way of keeping the crew loose, asserting the primal jester inside the armor of a star's machismo. So to wrap up the temple take, he has a quiet word with Morgenstern and steps back to leave the actress alone — staring dolefully into the camera with a bright-red clown nose he has stuck on her face. Cut. Print. Amen.

Don't look for levity in The Passion, an account of the day Jesus was crucified starring James Caviezel (The Count of Monte Cristo) as Christ and Italian sex diva Monica Bellucci (soon to be seen in Matrix 2 and 3) as Mary Magdalene. Gibson is life-after-deathly serious about the project, which his production company is financing on an estimated budget of $25 million. (He doesn't yet have a distributor.) "This has been germinating inside me for 10 years," he says. "I have a deep need to tell this story. It's part of your upbringing, but it can seem so distant. The Gospels tell you what basically happened; I want to know what really went down."

In the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, in Ransom and in Signs, Gibson was the loner battling impossible odds. He seems to feel that way about The Passion, which should be ready for Easter 2004. A conservative in reflexively liberal Hollywood, and a devout Catholic in an industry whose products often mock religion, Gibson senses opposition to his film. The star, who had kept the set closed to the press before allowing TIME to visit this month, was angry that friends and relatives, including his 85-year-old father, had been pestered by an unidentified reporter preparing a story on The Passion. He suspects this is part of a media attack on a Christian testament.

"When you do touch this subject, it does have a lot of enemies," he told Fox News channel host Bill O'Reilly last week. Asked whether The Passion will upset Jews, Gibson replied, "It may. It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth." Gibson's company recently signed a lucrative deal with Fox TV's film-studio sibling and has optioned O'Reilly's novel Those Who Trespass. So his TV anger may simply be the latest form of media synergy. Besides, Hollywood likes Gibson; moguls wish him well. "If anyone can pull it off, it's Mel Gibson," says Richard Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, for which Gibson made the megahit Signs. "The project is fraught with all sorts of issues, but I would never bet against him."

The Passion will be told — boldly, perhaps perversely — in two dead tongues: Latin, used by the Roman occupiers of Palestine, and Aramaic, the language of most Semites at the time of Christ. If it's hard for the actors to speak their lines, it will be a challenge for the audience too: Gibson wants to show the film without subtitles. "The audience will have to focus on the visuals," he says. "But they had silent films before talkies arrived, and people went to see them."

Jesus has been the subject of a hundred or so films, from Edison's The Passion Play at Oberammergau in 1898 to a quartet of Stan Brakhage experimental shorts in 2001. The story has been filmed by Cecil B. DeMille, Nicholas Ray, George Stevens. The Messiah has been portrayed with stolid reverence (in Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth) and Surrealist blasphemy (Luis Bunuel's L'Age d'Or). Often he sings: in Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, in a born-again Bollywood musical and in the Canadian kung-fu horror comedy Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.

Gibson has few kind words for previous Passion films. Mention Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew (which, like Gibson's location shots, was filmed in the Italian town of Matera), and he fakes a big yawn. On Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ: "You've got Harvey Keitel as Judas saying"--and here Gibson shifts into a Brooklyn accent--"'Hey, you ovah dere.'"

Gibson's film will be Scorsesean in one aspect: its meticulous attention to violence. "It's gonna be hard to take," he says. "When the Romans scourged you, it wasn't a nice thing. Think about the Crucifixion — there's no way to sugarcoat that." Not if you're playing Jesus. Caviezel, a practicing Catholic who met and was blessed by Pope John Paul II, logged 15 shooting days on the Calvary cross — which may have been easier than wearing shackles and getting beaten and whipped. During one trouncing, he separated his left shoulder. "There's an immense amount of suffering on this," the actor says. "Fortunately, God is helping me."

Gibson is a more truculent Catholic. He scorns the Second Vatican Council, which in the 1960s replaced the Latin Mass with the liturgy in the language of the people and lots of perky folk songs. To Gibson, Vatican II "corrupted the institution of the church. Look at the main fruits: dwindling numbers and pedophilia." He might also have noted that Catholicism flourished in those countries where it became a church of liberation — where priests welded traditional doctrine to radical social reform.

It's dodgy to argue theology with an actor-director who seemingly sees a fusion of the movie characters he has played and Christ: feisty, persecuted, able to take whatever punishment the bad guys can dish out. Gibson is determined to walk his own lonely path. But it hardly seems unreasonable that there can be a contemporary film about a Christian hero when there are so many about, say, serial killers. So Gibson pursues his passion to make The Passion.

Got a problem with that? Take it up with your new spiritual counselor: Mad Max.

With reporting by Jeffrey Ressner/Los Angeles


Copyright © 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
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TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: aramaic; bellucci; calvary; catholic; caviezel; christ; crucifixion; gibson; latin; madmax; movies; passion; religion
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Looks good, can't wait.
1 posted on 01/29/2003 6:35:45 PM PST by TD911
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To: TD911
This has the makings of one of those really intense films that will leave you drained when you meander back to you car.
2 posted on 01/29/2003 6:43:34 PM PST by stevem
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To: TD911
Love Mel Gibson.

Little quirky on his feeling that the mass should be in the language of ancient Rome, though.

3 posted on 01/29/2003 6:55:56 PM PST by what's up
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To: what's up
the catholic mass has become a hippy love-in---a piano jammin' stupid freak show with the tabernacle removed from the center focal point on the altar to a secondary position on the sidelines. God has taken a back seat to man and his selflove
4 posted on 01/29/2003 7:01:50 PM PST by Taffini
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To: Taffini
Mel Gibson is an honerable man and i think one of the reasons women LOVE mel is because he LOVES HIS WIFE AND HIS CHILDREN---HE IS THE KIND OF MAN WOMEN WANT
5 posted on 01/29/2003 7:04:31 PM PST by Taffini
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To: TD911
Mel's right on about what happened to the church after the second vatican council!

The actor's speak in two dead languages? That will be interesting to see/hear!

6 posted on 01/29/2003 7:05:05 PM PST by TAdams8591
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To: Taffini
with the tabernacle removed from the center focal point on the altar to a secondary position on the sidelines.

Hey, you're lucky your tabernacle is at least "on the sidelines". Our parish built a new church and the tabernacle is in a seperate room, door closed during mass. For me, the symbolism of this is just awful, kind of like kicking Christ out of the church and closing the door on him; as if he has nothing to do with what is going on at mass.

7 posted on 01/29/2003 7:12:07 PM PST by LibertarianLiz
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To: Taffini
What you say is extremely true...but having the mass in Latin, the language of the Caesars, won't help.
8 posted on 01/29/2003 7:22:01 PM PST by what's up
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To: LibertarianLiz
I have went into Catholic churches and asked Jesus where He was,
only to find Him in a closet tucked out of the way without a candle noting the spot.

You'd almost think that somebody was ashamed to have Him hanging around.

9 posted on 01/29/2003 7:27:36 PM PST by Slyfox
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To: TAdams8591
I need subtitles though !!!!! I can't understand Latin or Aramaic.
10 posted on 01/29/2003 7:31:45 PM PST by ColdSteelTalon
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To: what's up
What you say is extremely true...but having the mass in Latin, the language of the Caesars, won't help.

Yes it will.

11 posted on 01/29/2003 7:34:12 PM PST by Renatus
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To: ColdSteelTalon
I think you'll be able to follow the story.
12 posted on 01/29/2003 7:34:47 PM PST by Siobhan (+ Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet +)
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To: Siobhan
Maybe but I'll give it a try :)
13 posted on 01/29/2003 7:37:28 PM PST by ColdSteelTalon
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To: Desdemona; american colleen; Salvation; JMJ333; sandyeggo; Domestic Church; Pyro7480
Ping.
14 posted on 01/29/2003 7:37:50 PM PST by Siobhan (+ Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet +)
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To: LibertarianLiz
"Our parish built a new church and the tabernacle is in a seperate room, door closed during mass."

They did that? You gotta be kidding! How awful!!
15 posted on 01/29/2003 7:38:44 PM PST by pepperdog
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To: Siobhan
It will be difficult to sit through the entire Passion. What He went through to secure my salvation is beyond human endurance and it will melt my old heart like butter, probably from the outset ... I've read the book you see, so it'll be vivid, all the more vivid. I'll pay to see the film, then buy the Disc when it becomes available, just to give my mite support to Mel. I have only one question: Will the Ressurection be included? [Mel, you wanna give us a hint, brother?]
16 posted on 01/29/2003 7:49:22 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: Renatus
How can reciting prayers in a foreign language be more effective than talking to God in your own tongue?

I don't get it. What's so holy about Latin?

17 posted on 01/29/2003 7:57:46 PM PST by what's up
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To: TD911; Joy Angela; Republic; Ragtime Cowgirl; JMJ333; Matt Drudge; Judicial Watch; Carl/NewsMax
NEVER FORGET

...With his -Fighting for Freedom- Motion Picture Trilogy of .."BRAVEHEART".., .."The PATRIOT".. and .."WE WERE SOLDIERS"..

...MEL GIBSON has become our new much needed JOHN WAYNE in a new -Time of War- in a new Century with an Enemy that is now just around the corner and up our street.

...No wonder MEL GIBSON is suddenly coming under attack as the Enemy Within HILLARY RODHAM assumes her new seat on our U.S. Senate's super secret Armed Services Committee to do us even more harm.


The Enemy is now Within and always has been.


Signed:.. ALOHA RONNIE Guyer / Vet-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.com

NEVER FORGET
18 posted on 01/29/2003 7:58:26 PM PST by ALOHA RONNIE ( ..Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.LzXRay.com ..)
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To: Taffini


Mel Gibson Hero Bump

19 posted on 01/29/2003 8:45:15 PM PST by lorrainer (UN? We don't need no stinkin' UN!)
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To: lorrainer
much thanks;;;as beautiful outside as he is inside
20 posted on 01/29/2003 9:10:33 PM PST by Taffini
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To: TD911
It could win an Oscar for best foreign language film.

But to be frank, subtitles might be a good idea.

I can see the first negative review now: "The Book was better." ;)

21 posted on 01/30/2003 3:19:34 AM PST by TheFilter
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To: lorrainer; Taffini
I love seeing him stand up for his beliefs like this. He's too big in Hollywood for the powers-that-be to cross him on this one (no pun intended). He's too big in Hollywood precisely because he stands up for his beliefs. And, as Taffini pointed out, he's a good, decent guy who loves his wife and kids (six, is it?). I will gladly support Mel and his endeavors. ;o)


22 posted on 01/30/2003 3:31:41 AM PST by shezza (Mmmmmmmmmmmmm...Mel!)
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To: pepperdog
Our Tabernacle is ina SEPARATE BUILDING!!!! It's a disgrace....it's in a Chapel!!

I LOVE the fact that the actor playing Jesus was Blessed by the Pope!! Way to Go MEL!!!

23 posted on 01/30/2003 5:33:10 AM PST by Claire Voyant ((visualize whirled peas))
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To: Taffini
Some of the new monstrosities that pass for houses of worship have moved the tabernacle completely out of the sanctuary into a small enclave.

People genuflect towards the main altar completely unaware that such reverence is to be directed towards the tabernacle.

When they enter the "sanctuary" they continue to visit and talk in loud voices until the organ and choir commences singing the recessional which is customarily an old protestant hymn. I thank God for those old hymns and the occasional homily that deals with those forbidden subjects: sin and hell.

24 posted on 01/30/2003 5:39:27 AM PST by LuisBasco
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To: LibertarianLiz
Should have read your comment first, Liz.
25 posted on 01/30/2003 5:40:21 AM PST by LuisBasco
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To: TD911
Looks good.....

Sounds bad.
The whole thing is in Aramaic, with no subtitles.
Sheesh!


26 posted on 01/30/2003 6:46:43 AM PST by ppaul
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To: ppaul
Only half of acting is in the words.

Granted the film won't be substanceless fluff that can be easily viewed and just as easily forgotten.

Rise to the challenge.

27 posted on 01/30/2003 6:55:55 AM PST by wideawake
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To: TD911
:


THE DOLOROUS PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

:

28 posted on 01/30/2003 6:58:36 AM PST by ppaul
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To: what's up
I don't get it. What's so holy about Latin?

For the millenium stretching from 1054 to 1970 Roman Catholics shared a common language of liturgical devotion and scholarly discussion. The use of Latin was a sign of Catholic unity and the hymns and prayers composed in that language and incorporated into the Mass are among the most beautiful and impressive literature ever written.

The Latin language is an incomparable treasure of the Catholic faith - as it has been lost, Catholics have lost a large measure of unity, orthodoxy and their sense of historical mission and heritage.

Latin was extremely practical as well - as the official language of the Church it shows no bias for or against any modern tongue. Because it is no longer used as a language of casual conversation, its semantic content is much more stable - it is hard to twist the meanings of words in Latin anymore.

Its use in the liturgy was a signal to Catholics that they had entered into a different place, a divine sanctuary. The worshipped in a language which they associated with sacred worship and the sacraments.

The study of the language was an excellent, broadening experience for young Catholics, and knowledge of Latin increases one's level of culture and intellectual discourse.

Latin is still kept as a sacred treasure of the Church by many - it's return to its rightful status as the common heritage of Catholics is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

29 posted on 01/30/2003 7:06:30 AM PST by wideawake
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To: TD911
Gibson is a more truculent Catholic. He scorns the Second Vatican Council, which in the 1960s replaced the Latin Mass with the liturgy in the language of the people and lots of perky folk songs. To Gibson, Vatican II "corrupted the institution of the church. Look at the main fruits: dwindling numbers and pedophilia."

Right freaking on, Mr. Gibson.

Although I do not "scorn" any Council of the Church, it's obvious that to some the so-called Spirit of VII was simply an excuse to open a Pandora's box of satanic infiltration into the Church -- many of the "reforms" seen since then have proven to be attempts to Protestantize, paganize, or otherwise dilute and destroy authentic Christian worship within the Body of Christ.

Well, the Arians thought they'd beaten Him too -- and they were wrong. Long after the fads and fancies are gone, the authentic Church will exist. As our parish priest wryly notes, "the Age of Aquarius can't go on forever".

30 posted on 01/30/2003 7:38:37 AM PST by B-Chan (Make no mistake: Evil exists, and MUST be resisted.)
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To: ColdSteelTalon
Rest assured, Mel will have subtitles.
31 posted on 01/30/2003 10:08:32 AM PST by sheik yerbouty
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To: wideawake
it's return to its rightful status as the common heritage of Catholics is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

This may be true of the writer but not all Catholics.

Many Catholics would probably also prefer that the Bible not be translated into the common tongue; they may consider that the common tongue is not associated with sacred worship and devotion. However, disgruntled Christians who were being treated in a condescending manner by their leaders wanted to understand the truths of God a few centuries ago, not just recite them like a parrot or follow after a leader because he/she can orate in Latin.

I agree that Latin and other classical languages are extremely valuable for any person to study however I do not believe that the following statement is accurate:

worshipped in a language which they associated with sacred worship and the sacraments.

I think they realized that any language can be associated with worship and/or the sacraments. God does not understand just one language, as important historically as it may be. And He probably prefers to hear the common tongue, as it would be more representative of an individual's true heart and mind.

32 posted on 01/30/2003 11:27:55 AM PST by what's up
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To: Taffini
Correction: In some areas, the Mass has become etc.

Liturgical abuse may be widespread, but is far from uniformly distributed.

33 posted on 01/30/2003 11:34:58 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: what's up
Quiz question, no cheating:

Which translation of the Bible, into English, is older?
a) Douay-Rheims (Catholic)
b) Authorized Version (Anglican/Protestant)
34 posted on 01/30/2003 11:40:31 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: ArrogantBustard
Don't know. But I am very interested in your answer.

Do you happen to know the date of the Tyndale translation? Also, I would like to know when Luther did his German translation.

35 posted on 01/30/2003 12:20:58 PM PST by what's up
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To: what's up
Don't know.

Didn't think so. You might want to find out, before making any more foolish remarks about what Catholics do or do not want.

36 posted on 01/30/2003 12:24:02 PM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: ArrogantBustard
Apparently, you're not so up on church history dates as I thought. And here I genuinely thought you were going to give me some good info.

I am an ex-Catholic and know a bit about that church. There was huge opposition to an English translation in the 1500's. But I forget...it is easier to call people names than engage in true debate, isn't it?

37 posted on 01/30/2003 12:54:23 PM PST by what's up
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To: what's up
You're the one ranting about Catholics not wanting the Bible translated into the common language, without any knowledge of Church history.


Work on the translation began in the 1570s; political trouble and occasional lack of funds caused it to be suspended from time to time. The New Testament was published in 1578; the Old Testament took rather longer. The entire Bible was published in 1609, two years before the "Authorised Version".

OBTW, that was hardly the first time the Catholic Church had the Bible translated into the "Common" language, so that it could be read by as many of the faithful as could read. Have you any idea when that was first done, and which languages were involved?
38 posted on 01/30/2003 1:04:08 PM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: what's up
Since I was not able to get the information I was looking for from you I did a search: Here's an informative link: Bible Versions
39 posted on 01/30/2003 1:06:30 PM PST by what's up
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To: shezza
Turns out Mel's dad is a real patriotic gentleman and is not afraid to speak out on his beliefs regarding constitutional and sovereignty issues. He's been interviewed recently and seems to have a clear grasp on many of our country's problems as well as the globaloney spewed by many of the talking heads and politicians.
40 posted on 01/30/2003 1:12:23 PM PST by american spirit
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To: what's up
OK...finally some good info from you. I posted the link before I saw your post.

By the way, it's not helpful for you to use words like "rant" and "foolish" if you want to be taken seriously.

My point was if Catholics desire to maintain Latin in the Mass (as the poster above maintains) because they associate it with sacred worship these same Catholics might in my mind want the Bible to still be Latin. Why one and not the other?

41 posted on 01/30/2003 1:12:58 PM PST by what's up
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To: shezza
@ post 22, nice photo.

"Sons of Scotland! I am WIlliam Wallace - and I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live. At least ahile. And, dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!"
42 posted on 01/30/2003 1:18:25 PM PST by RetiredArmy
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To: what's up
Four reasons for maintaining the Mass in Latin (IMO): 1: It's the same everywhere. This is the Catholic Church.
2: The Sacred Worship thing.
3: Vocabulary necessary to understand the Mass in Latin is small. As opposed to understanding the Bible in Latin, which would require a huge vocabulary.
4: Meaning of words in Latin doesn't change.

Incidentally, even at a Latin Mass, the Bible readings are in English (or whatever the local language is).

BTW, in the Fourth Century Roman Empire, the local languang was ... LATIN! For which reason the Church had the Scriptures translated from Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic to ... Latin.

43 posted on 01/30/2003 2:03:12 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (English didn't even exist then.)
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To: TD911
Mel has the cojones of Benjamin Martin.
44 posted on 01/30/2003 2:31:58 PM PST by hardhead
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To: ArrogantBustard
Yes, I know the prevailing tongue in 4th century Rome was Latin...per my comment above that the Latin mass is said in the language of the Caesars. If the Church had wanted a language rooted in sacred history they could have created the mass in Greek and Hebrew, the Biblical languages...interesting they chose their OWN tongue so it could be understood!

I have never before considered your point that the amount of Latin knowledge would have been small for the mass compared to the amount needed for reading the Bible.

However, converts still have to learn some new language if they wanted to worship God in a Latin mass. Perhaps this is why Vatican II decided to change...perhaps too many Africans and Asians converting and not liking that they were not able to comprehend what they were saying?

45 posted on 01/30/2003 2:33:31 PM PST by what's up
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To: TD911
If it's hard for the actors to speak their lines, it will be a challenge for the audience too: Gibson wants to show the film without subtitles. "The audience will have to focus on the visuals," he says. "But they had silent films before talkies arrived, and people went to see them."

I understand this, but I am not all about it. But kudos to Mel and Jim. I adore them both and have been watching them for a long time.

46 posted on 01/30/2003 2:39:03 PM PST by lawgirl (FREEP Congress--we need Bush's judicial nominees approved!)
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: ArrogantBustard
I just read something interesting on the translation of the OT into Greek from Aramaic - supposedly there were 72 rabbis sequestered on some island, they each worked on a translation and they all supposedly ended up exactly alike - word for word.

Or, something like that.

48 posted on 01/30/2003 3:28:34 PM PST by The Right Stuff
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To: what's up
What you say is extremely true...but having the mass in Latin, the language of the Caesars, won't help.

It didn't seem to hurt the Church from the time of Pope St. Damasus(4th Century) until 1967.

49 posted on 01/30/2003 3:48:20 PM PST by Clintons a commie
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To: wideawake
Although it wasn't directed at me, I definitely appreciated your explanation of latin's spiritual, culture and intellectual value to Catholics and the Church. It was informative and instructive Thanks.
50 posted on 01/30/2003 4:03:32 PM PST by Paulie
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