Skip to comments.QUESTIONING 'PASSION' AND THE GOSPEL TRUTH (crossing over into Christian-hating)
Posted on 02/21/2004 2:55:03 AM PST by LizEdited on 05/26/2004 5:19:41 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
A movie about the Gospel sparks outrage, but movies that depict graphic sexual activity, romanticize criminals and constantly bombard us with violence are not criticized. If those movies are released without outrage, let he who is without sin cast the first stone against Gibson. Mary Maresco Sarasota, Fla.
(Excerpt) Read more at nypost.com ...
Speak for yourself, because you have no idea what I think.
Gibson is not merely telling the Gospel account, but adds to it in ways that consistently accent the culpability of Jews and mitigate that of the Romans. He adds violent beatings of Jesus--by Jews--that are not in Scripture. He changes the entire feel of the story as the Gospels tell it. In the Scriptural account, Jesus is snatched quietly, at night, to avoid the crowds. Jesus is willing to go quietly, and keeps the disciples from fighting back. He is held while the high priest gathers his council. During it, there is some physical abuse by the guards and some taunting and one slapping of his face, but the Evangelists don't elaborate on this or draw it out. Then he is delivered to Pilate. Gibson changes the tenor of all these scenes, making them more dramatic, more violent, more frightening. He also adds scenes that contradict explicit statements in Scripture. According to John, the Jews refuse to enter the Praetorium. No Jew--not even a disciple--is depicted as present in the Praetorium. But Gibson has them there.
In Mel's version, the beating of Jesus begins immediately upon his arrest, contrary to the Gospels. He is wrapped in chains, and at one point thrown off a bridge. These added beatings, by Jews, and the behavior of the Jews in subsequent scenes, make them a bloodthirsty, barbarous people--the only exceptions being those who believe in Jesus or are sympathetic to his cause. Jews are depicted in customary stereotypes, as greedy and money-grubbing, who can be easily bought off in the middle of the night. The Jewish leaders are seen as the equals of or more powerful than the Romans, which is contrary to history. The Jewish high priest at the time was a Roman appointee, answerable to Pilate--not in Mel's version, though.
The Jewish violence which began in the garden is unleashed without mercy in the court of the high priest. Jesus arrives, a bruised and bloody mess--perhaps a hundred people are crammed into the room, anxious for the spectacle to begin. Immediately after the "trial," the priests take turns hitting and spitting on Jesus, and then the guards and observers join in, beating him with sadistic glee. In this melee Peter, who is in the room itself, is grabbed and manhandled, and accused of being a follower of Jesus.
Gibson's Pilate is a weak and indecisive administrator who grouses about the rabble and about being stuck in this stinking outpost. When the excessively large crowd gathers in the courtyard of the Praetorium, Pilate goes out and, seeing Jesus for the first time, is disgusted by what the Jews have done. He asks the priests, Do you always punish them before you judge them? In the scenes which follow, Pilate appears as a lone and weak representative of Rome, with inadequate troops at his disposal, not the brutal governor know from history. He muses, If I dont condemn him, Caiaphas will rebel. If I do, his followers will. Either way there will be bloodshed. Soldiers inform him that there is already an uprising. The priests, temple guards, and people are growing ugly. But instead of putting them in their place, as the historical Pilate would have done, they are appeased.
Pilate decides to have Jesus beaten, thinking this will satisfy the bloodlust of the Jews. Jesus is taken within. The leading priests go in, watching through a gate--but clearly on Roman soil, contrary to the Gospels. Jesus is beaten first with rods until he collapses. Theres a pause. Jesus stands. The Romans are perturbed. They get the flagella. One hits the tablethe metal embedded in the strands of the whip sticks fast in the surface of the table. They begin to apply it to Jesus back. It sticks, and rips skin away. The violence goes on longer than any human could withstand. The camera lingers, fascinated, voyeuristic. The only breaks are to follow Mary as she leaves the scene, unable to watch any more (yes, she is there--and she will wipe up the blood afterwards, using towels given to her by Pilate's wife).
A Roman comes and orders them to stop: You were ordered to punish him, not to scourge him to death. This is but the first instance where Romans are depicted as having a conscience, or at least a limit to what they will inflict on a person. The Jews have none. The Romans are egged on by Satan, wandering through the crowd--the Jews need no such encouragement.
In the version I saw, after Pilate gives in to their demands the crowd shouts, gleefully, His blood be upon us and our children. Pilate gives up, and says to his men, Do as they wish. Rumors say Mel has taken this line out. That's good, as it was traditionally understood by Christians to extend the guilt for Deicide through history to contemporary Jews; but it doesn't minimize the exaggerated depiction of the Jews that we've endured to this point. And more is to come.
The procession to Calvary appears to be a religious event, led by priests riding donkeys; flashbacks recall Palm Sunday. The crowds lining the road this time are hostile and merciless, berating and pummeling Jesus as he passes. The Romans beat them back. Arriving at Calvary, Jesus is nailed to the cross--again, the violence is exaggerated and excessive, with the camera lingering over the scene as the cross is flipped over, with Jesus face down; blood dripping; the protruding ends of the nails are bent over, and then the cross is flipped over the other way.
A thief taunts Jesus to save himself and them. The crowd joins in the taunting, as does the High Priest, who says, If he is the Messiah, let him come down that we may believe. Caiaphas walks around as if he is the senior official presiding over the execution. He does not protest at the sign nailed to the cross by the Romans. There is no division of roles here--they are doing his bidding.
When Jesus prays, "Father, forgive them," the good thief says (as in Scripture), Listen, he prays for you. We deserve this, but he doesnt. Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom Jesus promises that he will be in paradise. The bad thief, Gesmas, laughs. A crow drops from heaven and pecks out his eyes. Hardly an answer to that prayer for forgiveness, is it?
The sky darkens, and the priests leave. The Romans let Mary approach. Throughout, they've shown her sympathy, assisting her in the crowd, casting nervous glances at her, talking amongst themselves.
Jesus dies. The camera looks down on Calvary. A drop of rain condenses, and the camera follows it down to the ground. It hits with explosive force, and an earthquake rocks the hill. Pilate is rattled. The temple is hit hardest; a chasm opens in the floor, and rocks fall on the priests. The sense is clearly one of divine judgment (like the crow eating the eyes of the thief). The drop of rain is like a divine tear; we see a picture of God as grieving in human fashion, his grief quickly turning to anger, and lashing out, not at the Romans, but at the Jews, and particularly at the Jewish religious authorities.
It is an awful depiction, and recalls the worst of medieval passion plays. Yet most of the Christians in the usually select audiences that have seen it so far are oblivious to these things. Even a handful of politically conservative Jewish commentators claim to have seen nothing problematic. But those Jews who have seen it who are not predisposed to be generous to Mel have been shocked by the portrayal. A special screening in Houston included local Jewish community members and representatives of the national offices of the ADL and American Jewish Committee. All had similar reactions. They sat like strangers in the auditorium, unable to understand the emotional reactions of the Christians around them, and unable to understand, when they spoke with those Christians later, how they could have missed the parts of the film that so troubled the Jews.
You touched someone's third rail. So instead of engaging in debate or seeking to clarify, you were attacked. That's not uncommon here.
I find it funny when those of faith run to the aid of someone taking literary liscense with the scriptures. <pIt may be one thing to amplify, it's quite another to be contrary to the text.
How is this contrary to the Gospels? Is there a hidden passage somewhere that says "And they didn't start beating Jesus until after His arrest"? The Gospels don't record each and every event of the Passion. I'm sure Our Lord was subjected to pain and indignities that we'll never be aware of until the Last Judgement. And Gibson's film, as brutal as it is, is probably even tame compared to the truth.
These are great points. I love Zeffirelli's film too, and I love some of the filling in of the gaps(ie, Ian Holm's Zerah, a masterful character and performance). But it's very true, much of it is pure speculation. Gibson's film, from the sound of it, is much truer to the Gospels.
This took about 10 minutes work, and I think it refutes the strongest scriptural objections of the reviewer. The reviewer's test precedes scriptural quotations.................
beating of Jesus begins immediately upon his arrest, contrary to the Gospels Luke 23:63 Meanwhile the men who guarded Jesus were mocking and beating him
So is the reviewer quibling about the meaning of the word beating?
The priests, temple guards, and people are growing ugly. But instead of putting them in their place, as the historical Pilate would have done, they are appeased. .John 18:38 and with that he (Pilate) went out to the Jews and said, I find no case against him . But according to a custom of yours John 19:4 Pilate came outside again and said to them, Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case.
Sounds like appeasement to me.
According to John, the Jews refuse to enter the Praetorium. No Jew--not even a disciple--is depicted as present in the Praetorium. But Gibson has them there .John 18:17 So Pilate came outside to them and said ..
Are we really objecting to the background selection of the director?
The temple is hit hardest ....Luke 23:45 The veil of the temple was torn down the middle
Another area the review hits upon is the politics of Roman rule vs. Jewish subjugation. I have seen several of these discussions and frankly it is like listening to a foreign language. The meaning of Jesus' sacrifice was not political and the 'players' in the drama (Pilate, Caiphas, Judas, etc.) are far less important than the meta-meaning of our salvation.
One last point of the review is how much elaboration Gibson uses. Well if you read the Passion together out loud it probably doesn't take more than 20 minutes. It is a narrative, not a drama. If we are going to translate a narrative into a drama.... which is very important in our increasingly illiterate world.... then there will have to be dramatic touches. That is the nature of the art. So yes. The reviewer is scriptually incorrect.
Besides, it's warm and sunny outide, I've got laundry and housework to do, so not only do I not have the energy, I also have neither the time nor the inclination to be constantly focusing on the negative today.
Besides, it's warm and sunny outide.
Trade you places. Dismal, overcast and chilly here.
And the Christians you mention that are most often quoted are the 'Jesus Seminar' types, who all but deny who the Christ was, despite written scripture ( in case you've missed the irony, one of the tenets of Christianity is to believe in the Resurrection, and the unique nature of Jesus as God and man ). The media, at least in the articles posted here, always seems to omit this important fact.
"The fact is that Gibson's father is out there saying things David Duke and Streicher might say, and there is no reason to ignore his rantings, just because he is Mel Gibson's father. The old man is in fact injecting himself into the debate."
Just as Christians are not to hold Jews responsible for the actions committed by their forebears ( and, I would point out, both Jesus' followers and detractors were Jews. The point of the Gospels is that it is the sins of mankind that was responsible for the events of the Passion--the Pharisees were bit players in the larger scheme of things ) in the Gospels, one cannot hold the son guilty for the words and actions of the father.
"I have not seen the movie and I have not opined about it, neither calling it awesome or not. I have reacted to various articles on, and what I KNOW, from my years working in Hollywood is, a very well-orchestrated and in fact brilliant PR campaign to generate interest in the film."
I haven't seen the movie, but allow me to play Devil's Advocate to your comment here.
If you produced a movie that challenges a lot of cherished sacred cows in an industry that has the ability to prevent distribution, would you not also approach the audience for which it is intended directly, rather than attempt to pass through a brick wall?
If indeed, there is truth to your assumption, that does not necessarily detract from the merits or lack of merits of the work itself.
Also, do you know for a fact that the controversy is an intentional PR campaign? Have you been told by those working closest to the film that this is what was intended from the beginning? If not, then you are engaging in speculation ( no law against it, just an observation).
Foxman has injected himself into the scene. Unless there is proof that he is on Gibson's payroll, he has inadvertently provided more publicity for a movie whose theme he obviously loathes.
Ever hear of so-called "Hate Crimes?" These are "crimes" which only "Thought Police" are allowed to define.....usually against conservative speech.
Other good synonyms for hate are despise, detest, abhor, abominate, execrate, loathe, contemn, disdain, scorn.
Scornful....now that's a good word---- with Biblical connotations----to describe those who disdain The Passion of Christ movie.
It's especially relevant here because, in American culture, the word is consistently used as a political weapon, especially against conservatives.
It is used so much in the political/social context that it is rapidly losing its meaning.
I still refuse to go along with the anti - whatever crowd.
It would be a great experience to see a movie of Jesus as a young man, traveling here and there, preaching the Word of salvation.
But then you'd want to see Mel's film again to see the horrendous results of His efforts to preach the Word of God.
The thread demonstrates that an enlightened discussion can take place on the subject of religion even though our antagonists would have everyone believe otherwise.
I want to thank you, RS, and everyone who posted, for their commendable contributions.