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Re: [XTalk] passions about the passion

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  • 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 1 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

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    • 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 2 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@...


        __________________________________
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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 3 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
          >
          >
          >
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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 4 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




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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