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passions about the passion

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  • Jim West
    I m sure this has been said somewhere by someone, but I think it has been forgotten or overlooked in all the discussions about Mel Gibson s so called
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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      I'm sure this has been said somewhere by someone, but I think it has been
      forgotten or overlooked in all the discussions about Mel Gibson's so called
      "anti-semitism". Criticising Israel and its policies does not make one an
      anti-semite any more than criticising American policies makes one
      anti-american. Likewise, criticising the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day for
      killing him does not make one an anti-semite any more than the Anti
      Defamation League's criticism of Mel Gibson makes them anti-Christian. In
      all of this turmoil I have not seen, yet, one accusation levelled by any of
      Mel's supporters, or by Mel himself, that the ADL is anti-Christian. But, in
      all honesty, if Mel can be called anti-semitic then the ADL should be called
      anti-Christian. Is the ADL anti-Christian? Are all of those people who are
      denigrating Mel's movie (which most of them have not even seen)
      anti-Christian? If their own logic is followed and criticism =
      anti-whateverism, then yes, they most definitely are. However, I reject
      their logic as illogical. The ADL and the opponents of the Passion of the
      Christ are no more anti-Christian than Mel is anti-Semitic.

      Jim

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Dr Jim West
      Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
      http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
      http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com --- Biblical Theology Weblog

      "Porro, quid deus sit, tam ex nobis ipsis ignoramus, quam ignorat scarebeus,
      quid sit homo" Zwingli (ZW III,643).
    • Zeba Crook
      Jim, The problem of course is that ADL opinions and positions have not resulted in any persecution or killings of Christians, let alone centuries of it. Until
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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        Jim,

        The problem of course is that ADL opinions and positions have not
        resulted in any persecution or killings of Christians, let alone
        centuries of it. Until the Holocaust, and in some circles still I'm
        sure, hatred and killing of Jews (anti-Semitism) was "justified" because
        they were the killers of the Christian messiah. It seems perfectly
        justifiable that a Christian made widely disseminated and popular movie
        that portrays the role of the Jews in the death of Jesus, regardless of
        how accurate the movie might be, might make Jews nervous -- is this just
        going to reopen old wounds that in many cases have not actually healed
        over? In other words, given the damage that has resulted from Christian
        anger at Jews over this, what is even the point of doing a movie
        treatment of something so hurtful? The movie might not be directly
        anti-Semitic, or even motivated by anti-Semitism, but if the potential
        result is the same, why wouldn't Christians agree to just put that
        behind them instead of harping on it for millenia? Imagine an anual
        family supper in which a family member's past indiscretion was always
        recalled: what would the chances for peace be in that family?

        Zeb

        Jim West wrote:

        >I'm sure this has been said somewhere by someone, but I think it has been
        >forgotten or overlooked in all the discussions about Mel Gibson's so called
        >"anti-semitism". Criticising Israel and its policies does not make one an
        >anti-semite any more than criticising American policies makes one
        >anti-american. Likewise, criticising the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day for
        >killing him does not make one an anti-semite any more than the Anti
        >Defamation League's criticism of Mel Gibson makes them anti-Christian. In
        >all of this turmoil I have not seen, yet, one accusation levelled by any of
        >Mel's supporters, or by Mel himself, that the ADL is anti-Christian. But, in
        >all honesty, if Mel can be called anti-semitic then the ADL should be called
        >anti-Christian. Is the ADL anti-Christian? Are all of those people who are
        >denigrating Mel's movie (which most of them have not even seen)
        >anti-Christian? If their own logic is followed and criticism =
        >anti-whateverism, then yes, they most definitely are. However, I reject
        >their logic as illogical. The ADL and the opponents of the Passion of the
        >Christ are no more anti-Christian than Mel is anti-Semitic.
        >
        >Jim
        >
        >+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        >Dr Jim West
        >Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
        >http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
        >http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com --- Biblical Theology Weblog
        >
        >"Porro, quid deus sit, tam ex nobis ipsis ignoramus, quam ignorat scarebeus,
        >quid sit homo" Zwingli (ZW III,643).
        >
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        --

        Zeba A. Crook

        Assistant Professor, Religion and Classics

        Carleton University

        1125 Colonel By Drive

        Ottawa, Ontario

        Canada K1S 5B6



        613-520-2600, ext. 2276

        http://www.carleton.ca/~zcrook/



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Steve Black
        ... Perhaps in another world, one without the legacy of the holocaust, and the history of Christian interpretation that led up to it based upon the very events
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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          On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:27 AM, Jim West wrote:

          > I'm sure this has been said somewhere by someone, but I think it has
          > been
          > forgotten or overlooked in all the discussions about Mel Gibson's so
          > called
          > "anti-semitism". Criticising Israel and its policies does not make one
          > an
          > anti-semite any more than criticising American policies makes one
          > anti-american. Likewise, criticising the Jewish leadership of Jesus'
          > day for
          > killing him does not make one an anti-semite any more than the Anti
          > Defamation League's criticism of Mel Gibson makes them anti-Christian.
          > In
          > all of this turmoil I have not seen, yet, one accusation levelled by
          > any of
          > Mel's supporters, or by Mel himself, that the ADL is anti-Christian.
          > But, in
          > all honesty, if Mel can be called anti-semitic then the ADL should be
          > called
          > anti-Christian. Is the ADL anti-Christian? Are all of those people who
          > are
          > denigrating Mel's movie (which most of them have not even seen)
          > anti-Christian? If their own logic is followed and criticism =
          > anti-whateverism, then yes, they most definitely are. However, I reject
          > their logic as illogical. The ADL and the opponents of the Passion of
          > the
          > Christ are no more anti-Christian than Mel is anti-Semitic.
          >
          > Jim
          >

          Perhaps in another world, one without the legacy of the holocaust, and
          the history of Christian interpretation that led up to it based upon
          the very events in question - perhaps in such a world we could simply
          affirm that "criticizing the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day for
          killing him does not make one an anti-semite" without further ado - but
          in this world we do need to tread a great deal more carefully. I have
          been on non-scholarly list serves where I saw the "Jewish rejection of
          Christ" being used as a rationalization for anti-Semitism - in other
          words the passion has and continues to have negative possibilities as
          they are read. They might also have positive possibilities, but it
          behooves us, I believe, to acknowledge its dangerous components for our
          society honestly.

          I don't believe that Mel is an Anti-Semite, but that doesn't mean that
          a historically naive telling of the passion narrative (one that doesn't
          recognize the powerful history of interpretation that led, at least in
          part, to the gas chambers of WW2) might not have Anti-Semitic
          implications in the world today.

          Steve Black
          Vancouver School of Theology
          Vancouver, BC
          Canada
        • Jim West
          ... Yet.... ... Once someone asked Rabbi Akiba, if God is angry at those who worship the sun, why did he make it? Akiba answered, God does not punish the good
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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            At 10:52 AM 2/4/04 -0500, you wrote:
            >Jim,
            >
            >The problem of course is that ADL opinions and positions have not
            >resulted in any persecution or killings of Christians, let alone
            >centuries of it.

            Yet....

            > In other words, given the damage that has resulted from Christian
            >anger at Jews over this, what is even the point of doing a movie
            >treatment of something so hurtful?

            Once someone asked Rabbi Akiba, if God is angry at those who worship the
            sun, why did he make it? Akiba answered, God does not punish the good
            because of the foolishness of the few.

            Same thing applies here, I think. It is at heart unjust to accuse a person
            of "potential" anti-semitism merely because anti-semitism has occured in the
            past. What the ADL decries in Gibson (fostering hatred?) is what they
            themselves are doing, is it not? Hence the problem lies in the double
            standard being displayed by the ADL. If you make a movie that tells things
            as they were you are bad- but if you accuse someone of the harmful potential
            of something then you are good? It makes no sense.

            Best

            Jim
            +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
            Dr Jim West
            Pastor, Petros Baptist Church
            http://biblical-studies.org -- Biblical Studies Resources
            http://biblical-studies.blogspot.com --- Biblical Theology Weblog

            "Porro, quid deus sit, tam ex nobis ipsis ignoramus, quam ignorat scarebeus,
            quid sit homo" Zwingli (ZW III,643).
          • Zeba Crook
            ... Oh please!! That s as specious as the argument that making the dissemintation of hate literature illegal is a curbing of freedom of speech. It is, but we
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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              Jim West wrote:

              >At 10:52 AM 2/4/04 -0500, Zeb wrote:
              >
              >
              >>In other words, given the damage that has resulted from Christian
              >>anger at Jews over this, what is even the point of doing a movie
              >>treatment of something so hurtful?
              >>
              >>
              >Same thing applies here, I think. It is at heart unjust to accuse a person
              >of "potential" anti-semitism merely because anti-semitism has occured in the
              >past. What the ADL decries in Gibson (fostering hatred?) is what they
              >themselves are doing, is it not?
              >
              Oh please!! That's as specious as the argument that making the
              dissemintation of hate literature illegal is a curbing of freedom of
              speech. It is, but we agree as a culture (at least we do so in Canada)
              that freedom of speech has limits; when freedom of speech has hateful
              ends, one cannot claim innocently, "But I don't actually think those
              things, I'm just speaking freely." When our actions might result in
              harm, it is incumbent upon us to ask whether those actions are really in
              the best interest of someone other than us. It's about a sense of
              corporate responsibility. How easy it is for those whose have held the
              position of power (in this case Christians as they have held it for the
              last 2000 years over Jews) to say, "Hey, it's just a movie, don't take
              it so personally." It's an argument that fails to take notice of the
              world past the end of one's nose.

              Zeb
              --

              Zeba A. Crook

              Assistant Professor, Religion and Classics

              Carleton University

              1125 Colonel By Drive

              Ottawa, Ontario

              Canada K1S 5B6



              613-520-2600, ext. 2276

              http://www.carleton.ca/~zcrook/



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Steve Black
              ... But is it really as it was ? The Romans, after all, might have been far more active players in the execution of Jesus than the gospels suggest! The
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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                On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:59 AM, Jim West wrote:

                > If you make a movie that tells things
                > as they were you are bad-

                But is it really "as it was"? The Romans, after all, might have been
                far more active players in the execution of Jesus than the gospels
                suggest! The passion narratives are all the products of ideologically
                committed Christians who wanted to undermine their ideological
                opponents and the stories they tell reflect this battle - including the
                passion. So really what we have in the passion narratives is not "what
                was" as much as a representation of what was believed to have been -
                put in such a way as to maximize the ideological punch - hardly the
                stuff of accurate history. This ideology entered into the western mind
                historically with disastrous effects. This doesn't mean that either Mel
                or Mk, Mt, Lk or Jn where anti-Semitic - but it does mean that we must
                exercise caution.

                Steve Black
                Vancouver School of Theology
                Vancouver, BC
                Canada
              • Bob Schacht
                ... This is really at the crux. I don t know how West can claim that the movie tells things as they were when the movie is based so many clearly
                Message 7 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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                  At 08:29 AM 2/4/2004 -0800, Steve Black wrote:

                  >On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:59 AM, Jim West wrote:
                  >
                  > > If you make a movie that tells things as they were you are bad-
                  >
                  >But is it really "as it was"?

                  This is really at the crux. I don't know how West can claim that the movie
                  "tells things as they were" when the movie is based so many clearly
                  non-historical elements. To name a few,
                  * Having government officials, etc. speak in Latin rather than Greek;
                  * The influence of a medieval passion play on certain portions of the
                  script;
                  * Gibson's artistic license (which he freely admits in places)
                  Those are just for starters that I can think of off the top of my head
                  without looking up the details. Black added:

                  > The Romans, after all, might have been far more active players in the
                  > execution of Jesus than the gospels suggest!

                  And even the Gospels suggest active Roman involvement. Crucifixion was,
                  after all, a form of execution reserved for Roman civil authority. If the
                  passion had been solely or primarily a Jewish act, then Jesus would have
                  been stoned.

                  So the basic problem with the movie is that, apparently, Gibson is NOT
                  telling "things as they were."

                  Bob

                  Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                  Northern Arizona University
                  Flagstaff, AZ

                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Loren Rosson
                  Folks -- Let me preface this by saying that I ve been rather put off by Jim West s cavalier attitude toward (and sloppy assessments of) the Passion film in
                  Message 8 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
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                    Folks --

                    Let me preface this by saying that I've been rather
                    put off by Jim West's cavalier attitude toward (and
                    sloppy assessments of) the Passion film in general.
                    However, regarding Zeb's remarks:

                    [Zeb]
                    >>The problem of course is that ADL opinions and
                    positions have not resulted in any persecution or
                    killings of Christians, let alone centuries of it.
                    Until the Holocaust, and in some circles still I'm
                    sure, hatred and killing of Jews (anti-Semitism) was
                    "justified" because they were the killers of the
                    Christian messiah. It seems perfectly justifiable that
                    a Christian made widely disseminated and popular movie
                    that portrays the role of the Jews in the death of
                    Jesus, regardless of how accurate the movie might be,
                    might make Jews nervous -- is this just going to
                    reopen old wounds that in many cases have not actually
                    healed over. In other words, given the damage that has
                    resulted from Christian anger at Jews over this, what
                    is even the point of doing a movie treatment of
                    something so hurtful?<<

                    For the same reason many of our best films are made
                    about hurtful things. None of your above remarks about
                    the history of anti-Semitism -- as accurate as they
                    are -- have any bearing on the integrity of The
                    Passion **as a film**. Gibson may be ignorant about a
                    few things (and no one I'd care to break bread with),
                    but he's a good filmmaker. I'm looking forward to his
                    movie. There really hasn't yet been a good film on
                    Jesus' passion (save perhaps The Life of Brian :) ),
                    certainly not one realistic and dramatic enough to
                    meet the increasing demands of today's audiences. You
                    may as well ask what's the point of David Lynch
                    showing brutal sado-masochism and rape in Blue Velvet.


                    I'm going into The Passion much as I went into Oliver
                    Stone's Nixon. Little to offer in historical value
                    (and how much of the historical Macbeth do we get in
                    Shakespeare?), but powerful drama nonetheless. By all
                    indications, it will be a splendid achievement.

                    Loren Rosson III
                    Nashua NH
                    rossoiii@...


                    __________________________________
                    Do you Yahoo!?
                    Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free web site building tool. Try it!
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                  • Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab)
                    Hi Steve, Since this is now off-topic, here are the comments I mentioned yesterday that I was going to post just before the plug was pulled. Great to see you
                    Message 9 of 10 , Feb 6, 2004
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                      Hi Steve,

                      Since this is now off-topic, here are the comments I mentioned yesterday
                      that I was going to post just before the plug was pulled. Great to see you
                      the other day (trust Greek is going well).

                      I do indeed agree that in a post-holocaust world, one needs to be careful
                      about the use of language. Since we agree on this, I hope I don¹t need to
                      elaborate. But does this trump all other considerations? I¹m not sure it
                      does. In terms of what actually happened to Jesus, is anyone really
                      suggesting that Israel¹s leadership of the day were merely innocent pawns
                      wanting only the best for this rabbi but who were cruelly outwitted and
                      manipulated by the nasty Romans? Every nation on earth has blood on its
                      hands at some point. Is it such a surprise that Israel has some as well?
                      (Ask any number of people, let alone Palestinians, what they think about the
                      present situation in the Middle East). As I was thinking about this, I had
                      what might seem an outrageous thought: to use Zeb¹s analogy of the family,
                      if there is tension, in my experience the best way to begin to resolve it is
                      to confess my part in the fracas and apologize. When just about every other
                      modern nation is apologizing for the sins of its fathers, perhaps a word
                      from Israel¹s leadership might not hurt (maybe they¹ve already done so and I
                      missed it): ³Yes, the part of our past leaders in the execution of Jesus was
                      unjust. We are sorry.² What¹s to lose? And consider what might be gained.

                      But there¹s more isn¹t there? Why is it honorable to criticize Israel¹s
                      present policies but frightfully anti-semitic to recall a bad policy
                      decision in the past? In terms of relative importance, which is more likely
                      to fuel present anti-semitism: increasing criticism of and hostility toward
                      modern Israel or the telling of what, to be honest, is an increasingly
                      irrelevant religious story, at least in the minds of most Western people?
                      Odd, is it not, that some of the more vocal critics of this movie happen to
                      be very critical of the modern state of Israel¹s policies in the Middle East
                      which I know for a fact would be seen by many Jewish people, not all of
                      course, as a form of anti-semitism and which criticism has in fact already
                      fuelled acts of violence in North America. Why is the Holocaust not invoked
                      to trump this kind of criticism but suffices in the case of Mel¹s movie? One
                      man's anti-semitism is another's justice I suppose. Yes there is, sadly,
                      rising anti-semitism in Europe, but I doubt very much that it has anything
                      to do with the Christian story which has long been abandoned by most
                      Europeans. Can any one smell oil here? (At the risk of chasing rabbits,
                      there is indeed a history of anti-semitism in Europe, but now given recent
                      scholarship which pretty much reverses the traditional view of the
                      Inquisition, Christianity, and witch-burnings (which actually took off in
                      the age of Reason, not medieval Europe, was actively championed even fuelled
                      by irreligious intellectuals, tended to be concentrated in the border towns
                      where tensions were high and central control had broken down‹Spain and Italy
                      had by far the lowest rates of executions‹and was first condemned, not by
                      free-thinking proponents of unfettered reason, but by Jesuits who operated
                      in the Inquisition who actually intervened to prevent such executions), one
                      can¹t help but wonder if Christianity¹s purported role in European
                      anti-semitism has likewise been distorted ...it¹s just a thought, and I
                      neither intend to absolve perverse Christians nor make a judgment save only
                      that since we have clearly not been well-served by at least a century of
                      blatantly anti-Catholic and anti-Christian scholarship in other areas, there
                      might likewise be a problem here.)

                      But back to the present: what of the people for whom the Jesus story still
                      matters? It is interesting is it not that the Christians who are most
                      enthused about Mel¹s film, and those who are most likely to constitute its
                      largest audience, also happen to be the staunchest supporters of the modern
                      state of Israel¹s right to exist, and of Jewish participation in life in
                      North America in general? Am I being asked seriously to accept the
                      suggestion that it is precisely these people who are likely to be swayed
                      into an outburst of frenzied anti-semitism? And this when those who have
                      seen the film almost to a person declare they see their sin as the primary
                      cause of Jesus¹ sufferings, and in no way Œblame¹ Jews? What does one say
                      then to individuals who simply dismiss this thorough-going evidence, and opt
                      instead for some ³potential,² and frankly rather improbable even
                      preposterous, outcome? Do such persons really have windows into other
                      peoples¹ souls? Isn¹t that what the proverbial inquisitors believed they
                      possessed? Does there need to be some kind of reality check? Are we seeing
                      yet another case of academicitis where the ³theory² simply Œtrumps¹ the
                      data? The only review by a self-confessed atheist I¹ve seen, as I stated
                      earlier, strongly asserted that this is not a religious film but one of the
                      most powerful experiences he¹d ever had. Didn¹t provoke him to anti-semitism
                      either. I understand Jewish sensitivity on this issue but sensitivity is not
                      always the most reliable guide to reality. I very much doubt that Mel¹s film
                      is really the problem here.

                      Odd too is the fact, as a Jewish conservative rabbi recently observed (i.e.
                      these are his remarks, not mine), that a Jewish curator can put on a show in
                      which a Madonna is spattered with feces, and then screen a film which treats
                      Mother Teresa with considerable contempt, and be defended by several
                      well-known Jewish social critics as artistic freedom but somehow Mel¹s film
                      is charged with anti-semitism.

                      I don¹t mean this to shut down the discussion, do feel free to continue, but
                      I find myself increasingly resonating with the words of a non-Christian film
                      critic who was rapidly tiring of what he regarded as the frantic and
                      hopelessly overwrought carry-on over this film: ³For God¹s sake, shut up and
                      watch the movie.² Not exactly my choice of language but for God¹s sake
                      indeed.

                      Take care... we haven¹t yet had that coffee (on me).

                      Rikk



                      On 4/2/04 8:29 AM, "Steve Black" <sdblack@...> wrote:

                      >
                      > On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, at 07:59 AM, Jim West wrote:
                      >
                      >> > If you make a movie that tells things
                      >> > as they were you are bad-
                      >
                      > But is it really "as it was"? The Romans, after all, might have been
                      > far more active players in the execution of Jesus than the gospels
                      > suggest! The passion narratives are all the products of ideologically
                      > committed Christians who wanted to undermine their ideological
                      > opponents and the stories they tell reflect this battle - including the
                      > passion. So really what we have in the passion narratives is not "what
                      > was" as much as a representation of what was believed to have been -
                      > put in such a way as to maximize the ideological punch - hardly the
                      > stuff of accurate history. This ideology entered into the western mind
                      > historically with disastrous effects. This doesn't mean that either Mel
                      > or Mk, Mt, Lk or Jn where anti-Semitic - but it does mean that we must
                      > exercise caution.
                      >
                      > Steve Black
                      > Vancouver School of Theology
                      > Vancouver, BC
                      > Canada
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > The XTalk Home Page is http://ntgateway.com/xtalk/
                      >
                      > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
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                    • Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab)
                      SORRY! In the middle of cutting and pasting some other stuff I neglected to alter the address line. This was meant to be a private word to Steve... please
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 6, 2004
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                        SORRY! In the middle of cutting and pasting some other stuff I neglected to
                        alter the address line. This was meant to be a private word to Steve...
                        please delete..

                        Rikk




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