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Re: [XTalk] passions about the passion

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  • 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 1 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
      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 2 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
        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 3 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
          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 4 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
            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 5 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
              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 6 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
                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 7 of 10 , Feb 4, 2004
                  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 8 of 10 , Feb 6, 2004
                    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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                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • 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 9 of 10 , Feb 6, 2004
                      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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