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Re: another jesus movie? & Re: Gibson Movie

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  • Mike McLafferty
    ... I was reminded of these threads by the current issue of The New Republic magazine (July 28 & August 4), which has a fairly long piece by Paula Fredriksen
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 2, 2003
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      Liz Fried replied a while back (#13186):

      > ...I have heard it's virulently anti-semitic.

      ...to Jim West's Easter post:

      >> Listers may or may not have already heard of
      >> Mel Gibson's film effort to portray the last 12
      >> hours of Jesus' life (with the dialogue in Latin
      >> and Aramaic!); ...
      >>[...]
      >> Also of interest may be the foundational text for
      >> Gibson's movie-
      >>
      >>http://www.emmerich1.com/DOLOROUS_PASSION_OF_OUR_LORD_JESUS_CHRIST.htm

      I was reminded of these threads by the current issue of The New Republic
      magazine (July 28 & August 4), which has a fairly long piece by Paula
      Fredriksen (entitled "Mad Mel: The Gospel acccording to Gibson") on this
      forthcoming movie, *The Passion*. The online verson is at:

      http://tinyurl.com/huz0

      ( = http://mail.tnr.com/cgi-bin6/DM/y/hI1X0GxD3E0Bhe0SGu0AI )

      ..but requires a subscription. The print issue is on newstands and in
      libraries.

      Fredriksen details her involvement this past Spring in "an ad hoc group of
      professors" assembled by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
      (USCCB) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to review the script, following
      numerous articles in the press about the movie. As well as giving her
      academic quarrels with the movie, she laments, and defends her team from,
      the legal attacks and media spin they received once their supposedly
      confidential report was leaked to a news service.

      Here are a few excerpts not intended to give the gist, and not to violate
      copyright:

      "I began worrying about Gibson's movie back in March, when The Wall Street
      Journal and The New York Times ran their stories. The piece in the Journal
      rhapsodized about Gibson's religious faith as well as about his ardent
      commitment to his vision: a graphic exploration of the suffering, the
      torture, and the death of Jesus. The script would draw not only on the
      Gospels, the article reported, but also on visions of Christ's Passion
      received and written up by two seventeenth-century nuns. Gibson, the Journal
      revealed, was struggling to re-capture historical reality both visually (the
      gore, the pain) and aurally. Ancient languages, no subtitles: this was 'a
      point of honor for Mr. Gibson.' His reason was simple. 'This is what was
      spoken at the time,' he explained."

      "But something did not add up. To depict a first-century event by drawing on
      visionary writings composed almost two millennia later makes no sense at
      all: one might as well try to reconstruct ancient armor by peering at
      Bruegel. And while Aramaic was indeed the daily language of ancient Jews in
      Galilee and Judea, Latin would scarcely have figured at all. When the Jewish
      high priest and the Roman prefect spoke to each other, they would have used
      Greek, which was the English of antiquity. And Pilate's troops, employees of
      Rome, were not 'Romans.' They were Greek-speaking local gentiles on the
      imperial payroll. Gibson's pious evocations of historicity rang more than a
      little hollow. How much homework had he actually done?"

      [...]

      "The script, when we got it, shocked us. Nothing of Gibson's published
      remarks, or of ... Gibson's private assurances, had prepared us for what we
      saw. Each scholar, independent of the others, wrote his or her own comments
      on the document. We then boiled them down, bulleted our points, and made the
      whole discussion easy to digest. The first section of our report explained
      the historical connection between passion plays and the slaughter of
      European Jews, the dress rehearsals for the Shoah. Then we summarized our
      responses to the script. We pinpointed its historical errors and--again,
      since Gibson has so trumpeted his own Catholicism--its deviations from
      magisterial principles of biblical interpretation. We concluded with general
      recommendations for certain changes in the script."

      [...]

      "Gibson has continued to speak earnestly of his film as 'conforming' to the
      New Testament. Unless he ditched the script with which he was working as
      late as March, wrote an almost entirely new one, re-assembled his cast,
      re-shot his movie, and then edited it in time to be screened in June, this
      statement, too, must be false. Six pages of our report lay out for him
      exactly those places where he not only misreads but actually contravenes
      material given in the Gospels. And his historical mistakes, no less
      profound, are spelled out for him there, too."

      [...]

      "...details of the film as reviewed by [an] insider-fan on June 26 conform
      exactly, alas, to what we had seen in the script. Satan inciting the
      executioners at their task; 'a vicious riot of frenzied hatred between
      Romans and Jews with the Savior [en route to Golgotha] on the ground in the
      middle of it getting it from both sides'; the post-crucifixion
      Mary-and-Jesus *pietà*--no such scenes exist in the Gospels. But they are
      all in the screenplay that we saw."

      [...]

      "Anti-Semitism is not the problem in America that it is in the rest of the
      world. [...] But I shudder to think how *The Passion* will play once its
      subtitles shift from English to Polish, or Spanish, or French, or Russian.
      When violence breaks out, Mel Gibson will have a much higher authority than
      professors and bishops to answer to."

      Excerpts from Paula Fredriksen, "Mad Mel: The Gospel acccording to Gibson."
      Copyright 2003, The New Republic.

      ***
      Prof. Fredriksen refers to a posting at the Boston College "Center for
      Christian-Jewish Learning" website by four of the scholars she worked with.
      "Dramatizing the Death of Jesus" seems to be it, at:

      http://tinyurl.com/huxb

      ( =
      http://www.bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-elements/texts/news/dramatizing_the_deat
      h_of_jesus.htm )

      ***
      Just a lurker pointing something out, not trying to start a debate...

      Michael McLafferty
      (no affiliation)
      Portland, OR USA
    • Liz Fried
      Thank you for this response. There is also an article in today s New York Times bringing up many of the same points. Liz ... From: Mike McLafferty
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 2, 2003
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        Thank you for this response.
        There is also an article in today's New York Times bringing up
        many of the same points.
        Liz
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Mike McLafferty [mailto:mikemclafferty@...]
        Sent: Saturday, August 02, 2003 3:34 AM
        To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [XTalk] Re: another jesus movie? & Re: Gibson Movie


        Liz Fried replied a while back (#13186):

        > ...I have heard it's virulently anti-semitic.

        ...to Jim West's Easter post:

        >> Listers may or may not have already heard of
        >> Mel Gibson's film effort to portray the last 12
        >> hours of Jesus' life (with the dialogue in Latin
        >> and Aramaic!); ...
        >>[...]
        >> Also of interest may be the foundational text for
        >> Gibson's movie-
        >>
        >>http://www.emmerich1.com/DOLOROUS_PASSION_OF_OUR_LORD_JESUS_CHRIST.htm

        I was reminded of these threads by the current issue of The New Republic
        magazine (July 28 & August 4), which has a fairly long piece by Paula
        Fredriksen (entitled "Mad Mel: The Gospel acccording to Gibson") on this
        forthcoming movie, *The Passion*. The online verson is at:

        http://tinyurl.com/huz0

        ( = http://mail.tnr.com/cgi-bin6/DM/y/hI1X0GxD3E0Bhe0SGu0AI )

        ..but requires a subscription. The print issue is on newstands and in
        libraries.

        Fredriksen details her involvement this past Spring in "an ad hoc group of
        professors" assembled by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
        (USCCB) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to review the script,
        following
        numerous articles in the press about the movie. As well as giving her
        academic quarrels with the movie, she laments, and defends her team from,
        the legal attacks and media spin they received once their supposedly
        confidential report was leaked to a news service.

        Here are a few excerpts not intended to give the gist, and not to violate
        copyright:

        "I began worrying about Gibson's movie back in March, when The Wall Street
        Journal and The New York Times ran their stories. The piece in the Journal
        rhapsodized about Gibson's religious faith as well as about his ardent
        commitment to his vision: a graphic exploration of the suffering, the
        torture, and the death of Jesus. The script would draw not only on the
        Gospels, the article reported, but also on visions of Christ's Passion
        received and written up by two seventeenth-century nuns. Gibson, the
        Journal
        revealed, was struggling to re-capture historical reality both visually
        (the
        gore, the pain) and aurally. Ancient languages, no subtitles: this was 'a
        point of honor for Mr. Gibson.' His reason was simple. 'This is what was
        spoken at the time,' he explained."

        "But something did not add up. To depict a first-century event by drawing
        on
        visionary writings composed almost two millennia later makes no sense at
        all: one might as well try to reconstruct ancient armor by peering at
        Bruegel. And while Aramaic was indeed the daily language of ancient Jews
        in
        Galilee and Judea, Latin would scarcely have figured at all. When the
        Jewish
        high priest and the Roman prefect spoke to each other, they would have
        used
        Greek, which was the English of antiquity. And Pilate's troops, employees
        of
        Rome, were not 'Romans.' They were Greek-speaking local gentiles on the
        imperial payroll. Gibson's pious evocations of historicity rang more than
        a
        little hollow. How much homework had he actually done?"

        [...]

        "The script, when we got it, shocked us. Nothing of Gibson's published
        remarks, or of ... Gibson's private assurances, had prepared us for what
        we
        saw. Each scholar, independent of the others, wrote his or her own
        comments
        on the document. We then boiled them down, bulleted our points, and made
        the
        whole discussion easy to digest. The first section of our report explained
        the historical connection between passion plays and the slaughter of
        European Jews, the dress rehearsals for the Shoah. Then we summarized our
        responses to the script. We pinpointed its historical errors and--again,
        since Gibson has so trumpeted his own Catholicism--its deviations from
        magisterial principles of biblical interpretation. We concluded with
        general
        recommendations for certain changes in the script."

        [...]

        "Gibson has continued to speak earnestly of his film as 'conforming' to
        the
        New Testament. Unless he ditched the script with which he was working as
        late as March, wrote an almost entirely new one, re-assembled his cast,
        re-shot his movie, and then edited it in time to be screened in June, this
        statement, too, must be false. Six pages of our report lay out for him
        exactly those places where he not only misreads but actually contravenes
        material given in the Gospels. And his historical mistakes, no less
        profound, are spelled out for him there, too."

        [...]

        "...details of the film as reviewed by [an] insider-fan on June 26 conform
        exactly, alas, to what we had seen in the script. Satan inciting the
        executioners at their task; 'a vicious riot of frenzied hatred between
        Romans and Jews with the Savior [en route to Golgotha] on the ground in
        the
        middle of it getting it from both sides'; the post-crucifixion
        Mary-and-Jesus *pietà*--no such scenes exist in the Gospels. But they are
        all in the screenplay that we saw."

        [...]

        "Anti-Semitism is not the problem in America that it is in the rest of the
        world. [...] But I shudder to think how *The Passion* will play once its
        subtitles shift from English to Polish, or Spanish, or French, or Russian.
        When violence breaks out, Mel Gibson will have a much higher authority
        than
        professors and bishops to answer to."

        Excerpts from Paula Fredriksen, "Mad Mel: The Gospel acccording to
        Gibson."
        Copyright 2003, The New Republic.

        ***
        Prof. Fredriksen refers to a posting at the Boston College "Center for
        Christian-Jewish Learning" website by four of the scholars she worked
        with.
        "Dramatizing the Death of Jesus" seems to be it, at:

        http://tinyurl.com/huxb

        ( =

        http://www.bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-elements/texts/news/dramatizing_the_deat
        h_of_jesus.htm )

        ***
        Just a lurker pointing something out, not trying to start a debate...

        Michael McLafferty
        (no affiliation)
        Portland, OR USA



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      • Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Concerning Mike McLafferty s post: I ve been trying to follow the controversy over Gibson s not-yet-released move and wondering about judgements rendered
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 2, 2003
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          Concerning Mike McLafferty's post: I've been trying to
          follow the controversy over Gibson's not-yet-released
          move and wondering about judgements rendered before
          the movie's release, but this post has raised real
          concerns for me.

          I had Paula Frederickson as an instructor at Berkeley,
          and I trust her judgement, for the most part. If
          Gibson was relying upon medieval nuns who also
          (apparently) held antisemitic views (or so I've heard
          elsewhere), then this is really a problem.

          Antisemitism might not be a serious issue in America,
          but it's again a rising problem in Europe as well as
          in the Muslim world, and Gibson ought to be aware of
          this.

          If Gibson's movie turns out to have the distortions
          that some fear that it has, then this is -- to put it
          mildly -- not good. I'll wait until I see the film to
          form a solid judgement, but from what I've heard
          lately, I am concerned.

          Too bad. I've always rather liked Gibson.

          Jeffery Hodges

          =====
          Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges (Inv.) [Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley]
          Hanshin University (Korean Theological University)
          447-791 Kyunggido, Osan-City
          Yangsandong 411
          South Korea

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        • Bob Schacht
          ... Liz, Were you referring to Mel Gibson s Martyrdom Complex ? August 3, 2003
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 3, 2003
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            At 10:37 AM 8/2/2003 -0400, you wrote:
            >Thank you for this response.
            >There is also an article in today's New York Times bringing up
            >many of the same points.
            >Liz

            Liz,
            Were you referring to
            "Mel Gibson's Martyrdom Complex"?
            August 3, 2003

            http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/arts/03RICH.html?ex=1060921857&ei=1&en=1312469e0d779d50

            I appreciated the excerpts from the New Republic article, which seemed to
            have more of the pertinent details for this list.

            Thanks,
            Bob



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Liz Fried
            ... From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@infomagic.net] Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2003 3:23 PM To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [XTalk] Re: another
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 3, 2003
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              -----Original Message-----
              From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@...]
              Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2003 3:23 PM
              To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [XTalk] Re: another jesus movie? & Re: Gibson Movie


              At 10:37 AM 8/2/2003 -0400, you wrote:
              >Thank you for this response.
              >There is also an article in today's New York Times bringing up
              >many of the same points.
              >Liz

              Liz,
              Were you referring to
              "Mel Gibson's Martyrdom Complex"?
              August 3, 2003


              http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/arts/03RICH.html?ex=1060921857&ei=1&en=131
              2469e0d779d50

              I appreciated the excerpts from the New Republic article, which seemed to
              have more of the pertinent details for this list.

              Thanks,
              Bob

              It doesn't seem likely, does it, when the letter I sent is dated to Aug.
              2, and
              the article you refer to appeared only on Aug. 3?
              Liz


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            • Bob Schacht
              ... No, it doesn t seem likely. That s why I asked. I access the NYT on the net, and the Internet version often retains articles on their home page for several
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 3, 2003
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                At 04:14 PM 8/3/2003 -0400, Liz Fried wrote:

                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: Bob Schacht [mailto:bobschacht@...]
                > Sent: Sunday, August 03, 2003 3:23 PM
                > To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: RE: [XTalk] Re: another jesus movie? & Re: Gibson Movie
                >
                >
                > At 10:37 AM 8/2/2003 -0400, you wrote:
                > >Thank you for this response.
                > >There is also an article in today's New York Times bringing up
                > >many of the same points.
                > >Liz
                >
                > Liz,
                > Were you referring to
                > "Mel Gibson's Martyrdom Complex"?
                > August 3, 2003
                >
                >
                >http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/03/arts/03RICH.html?ex=1060921857&ei=1&en=131
                >2469e0d779d50
                >
                > I appreciated the excerpts from the New Republic article, which seemed to
                > have more of the pertinent details for this list.
                >
                > Thanks,
                > Bob
                >
                > It doesn't seem likely, does it, when the letter I sent is dated to
                > Aug. 2, and
                > the article you refer to appeared only on Aug. 3?
                > Liz

                No, it doesn't seem likely. That's why I asked. I access the NYT on the
                net, and the Internet version often retains articles on their home page for
                several days after the original appearance. It also seemed to me odd that
                they might publish two different arts review columns in such a short span
                of time.

                Bob
              • Mike McLafferty
                ... [about Paula Fredriksen s New Republic piece.] ... *** It interested me, too, that as soon as I revived a months-old thread, two successive articles should
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 4, 2003
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                  Liz to me on August 2:

                  > Thank you for this response...
                  [about Paula Fredriksen's New Republic piece.]
                  > There is also an article in today's New York
                  > Times bringing up many of the same points.

                  Bob to Liz:

                  > Were you referring to "Mel Gibson's Martyrdom
                  > Complex"? August 3, 2003

                  ...and later:

                  > ...It also seemed to me odd that they might
                  > publish two different arts review columns in
                  > such a short span of time.

                  ***
                  It interested me, too, that as soon as I revived a months-old thread, two
                  successive articles should pop up in the NYT. But they, and the Fredriksen
                  TNR article, are all appearing because Gibson (a guy who parted company with
                  Rome over Vatican II) has been screening his rough cut for select
                  sympathetic audiences to generate buzz.

                  The article Liz cited was from Saturday the 2nd, by Laurie Goodstein, called
                  "Months Before Debut, Movie on Death of Jesus Causes Stir."

                  > Mr. [Paul] Lauer, marketing director for Icon,
                  > said Mr. Gibson's rendering was not anti-Semitic,
                  > but simply followed the New Testament. "There
                  > are some sympathetic to Christ and some who
                  > clearly want to get rid of this guy," he said. "And
                  > that's clearly scriptural. You can't get away from
                  > the fact that there are some Jews who wanted
                  > this guy dead."

                  ( http://tinyurl.com/ixza )

                  Frank Rich's Sunday article, "Mel Gibson's Martyrdom," also has
                  shudder-inducing quotes, including this one:

                  > Asked by Bill O'Reilly in January if his movie
                  > might upset "any Jewish people," Mr. Gibson
                  > responded: "It may. It's not meant to. I think
                  > it's meant to just tell the truth. . . . Anybody
                  > who transgresses has to look at their own part
                  > or look at their own culpability."

                  ( http://tinyurl.com/ixzs )

                  There's a lot of net chat building up, especially stuff on the fundy fringe
                  that echoes these quotes, such as:

                  > i hope mel gibson does his movie without fear
                  > of the jews, the Passion of Jesus cannot be
                  > changed for the sake of the jews or their vatican 2.

                  ( http://tinyurl.com/iy0s )

                  The movie teaser can be viewed in various formats at:

                  http://www.passion-movie.com/english/trailer.html

                  It does look visually powerful (but so was "Triumph of the Will"). This
                  story is growing. Both Times articles bear reading in full, and are worth
                  the price of free registration with the NYT, IMO.

                  Michael McLafferty
                  (no affiliation)
                  Portland, Oregon, USA
                • Austin Meredith
                  Is a Passion Play harmful only if it is Antisemitic? In other words, in general, has anything good ever come out of the sort of Christian who is preoccupied
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 4, 2003
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                    Is a Passion Play harmful only if it is Antisemitic? In other words, in
                    general, has anything good ever come out of the sort of Christian who is
                    preoccupied with Jesus's death rather than his life?

                    That's not a rhetorical question, I don't think -- scanning about in my
                    imagination, I am failing to come up with historical instances. (I know of
                    no evidence that the life of Mel Gibson, for instance, has been improved by
                    such a preoccupation, or, at least, nothing of the sort has been being
                    debated in the fan 'zines.) Maybe one of you can assist my imagination by
                    supplying the name of some historical individual who allegedly has been
                    improved by such a preoccupation, arguing that perchance the sainthood of
                    Francis would have been improved by the appearance of stigmata on the palms
                    of his hands?

                    I'm at a loss. Disregarding Semitism, disregarding Antisemitism -- has that
                    sort of preoccupation with manner of death rather than manner of life
                    *ever* produced *anything* other than viciousness?
                  • Mike Grondin
                    ... You know, I was thinking something like this myself as I read over the account of the one nun s visions , and the accompanying commentary. A lonely old
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 4, 2003
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                      --- Austin Meredith wrote:
                      > Disregarding Semitism, disregarding Antisemitism -- has that
                      > sort of preoccupation with manner of death rather than manner
                      > of life *ever* produced *anything* other than viciousness?

                      You know, I was thinking something like this myself as I read
                      over the account of the one nun's "visions", and the accompanying
                      commentary. A lonely old monastic with nothing better to do than to
                      obsess about how Jesus died. Worse still the commentary that takes
                      it all seriously, and piously excuses her "confusion" about
                      historical facts. (According to her "vision", Mary Magdalene and
                      Mary the mother of Jesus were roundabout at the scourging, wiping
                      up blood with their clothes. Ugh. I wonder if THAT's in Gibson's
                      movie.) Stuff like this should be regarded by the Catholic church
                      as an embarassment. Instead, it's treated as a legitimate "vision"
                      because it meets the tests of legitimacy - among which that the
                      visionary show proper humility and "obedience to the teachings of
                      the church". Double ugh. (Ironically, Gibson himself seems to be
                      obeying only those teachings that he likes.)

                      Mike Grondin
                    • Anthony Buglass
                      Austin wrote: I m at a loss. Disregarding Semitism, disregarding Antisemitism -- has that sort of preoccupation with manner of death rather than manner of life
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 18, 2003
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                        Austin wrote:
                        I'm at a loss. Disregarding Semitism, disregarding Antisemitism -- has that
                        sort of preoccupation with manner of death rather than manner of life
                        *ever* produced *anything* other than viciousness?


                        If there is an emphasis on *that sort of preoccupation* with manner of death, then I'll agree with you. Otherwise, I'll throw in a big caveat. One of the weaknesses of evangelicalism as a form of Christianity is that it can become more concerned with the death of Christ than his own teaching - if you like, becoming excessively Pauline and wrapped up in a "gospel about Jesus" rather than hearing the vox Jesu and taking on board the "gospel of Jesus". However, I know personally Christians who have become so moved and inspired by the death of Christ that their own lives have been transformed. I could also find numerous examples from Christian history where the death of Christ has inspired compassion, caring, and positive living in a non-sectarian and definitely non-vicious manner. There are plenty of examples of viciousness and the worst sort of religion, I accept. But let's not get carried away, and produce as unbalanced a response to the Gibson movie as the Gibson movie seems to be.

                        Cheers,
                        Rev Tony Buglass
                        Pickering Methodist Circuit



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