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Tuesday, March 2, 2004


For more — much more — on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, visit the New Testament Gateway Blog by British scholar Marc Goodacre. Best finds: The Society for Biblical Literature's SBL Forum on Gibson's film and the Guardian review of the film by one of the leading New Testament scholars, Geza Vermes, author of Jesus the Jew, Jesus in His Jewish Context, and The Changing Faces of Jesus. Vermes writes:

So, can the New Testament as such be blamed for fomenting anti-semitism? A nuanced reply is that its stories about Jesus were not originally conceived as anti-Jewish: they were meant to describe a family row between various Jewish groups. But in non-Jewish surroundings they were liable to receive an anti-Jewish interpretation. Anti-semitism is not in the New Testament text, but in the eyes and in the minds of some of its readers.

Gibson has repeatedly asserted that neither he, nor his film, is anti-semitic. The real problem is not with his attitudes or avowed intentions, but with the lack of appropriate steps taken to prevent visual images from inspiring judeophobia.

Vermes also mocks the linguistic "accuracy" of the film:

Not only are Pilate and Jesus(!) fluent Latin speakers, but even the soldiers of the Jerusalem garrison, who were most probably Aramaic- and Greek-speaking recruits from Syria, converse happily in a clumsy Latin with Italian Church pronunciation. I did not find it easy to follow the Aramaic which was mixed with unnecessary Hebraisms. One point is worth noting. It has been said again and again that the fateful curse "His blood be on us and our children!" has been cut from the film. This is not so. The Aramaic words are there; only the English subtitle has been removed.

("Celluloid brutality," Geza Vermes, Guardian 2.27.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 2 March 2004 at 6:49 PM

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March 2, 2004 11:53 PM | Permalink for this comment

And here's an Episcopalian sermon on the thing.

(Full disclosure - I work at the same church. Being neither Trinitarian nor evangelical, I'm seldom in harmony with their homilies, but I thought this one was particularly well done. My own minister attended the same showing, which included 30+ Christian pastors, three rabbis and several Muslim clerics, and her own sermon explored her reactions to the film and different theories of atonement vs punishment...)

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