Re: [Synoptic-L] RE: The Passion - harmonistic?
- On 9 Feb 2004 at 8:50, Wieland Willker wrote:
> Ok, thanks for the enlightenment. I am only wondering why this botchWhile not knowing whether it is a "botch" or not -- I haven't seen it
> then gets so much attention in scholarly circles.
yet -- I think that there are several reasons:
(1) Some scholars are interested in the way in which the Gospels are
adapted in film and fiction, partly because of the renewed interest
in Wirkungsgeschichte and partly because the creative process of
adaptation might shed light on the interpretative process. For
investigations of Jesus (and other) films along such lines, I would
recommend the books by Larry Kreitzer on the OT, the NT and Paul in
fiction and film; I would also recommend these two articles by
Telford, W. R., "The New Testament in Fiction and Film: A Biblical
Scholar's Perspective" in J. G. Davies, G. Harvey and W. Watson
(eds.), Words Remembered, Texts Renewed. Essays in Honour of J. F. A.
Sawyer, pp. 360-94. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.
Telford, W. R., "Jesus Christ Movie-Star: The Depiction of Jesus in
the Cinema" in C. Marsh and G. Ortiz (eds.), Movies and Meaning.
Explorations in Theology and Film, pp. 115-39. Oxford: Blackwell,
(2) Interest in this particular Jesus film is accentuated among some
scholars because of their involvement with the question of the
depiction of Jews in the Passion Narrative. Paula Fredriksen in
particular is worth mentioning here since she was on the so-called
"ad hoc committee" that strongly criticized an early script of the
film for its alleged anti-Semitism. So too is Amy-Jill Levine who
was on the committee that composed that report. Both Levine and
Fredriksen have been involved with discussion about the film as a
result of that early and robust encounter with the script. And
whatever one thinks about the way that that debate has developed,
there is no question that the issue of the depiction of Jews in the
Passion Narrative has been a hot topic in Gospel studies over the
last generation. What this film has done is to push that debate back
into centre stage.
I would add, in relation to this point, that much of the controversy
over the film could have been avoided if only Gibson had done what
Garth Dabrinsky did on the recent Gospel of John (Visual Bible) film
and employ a panel of expert consultants. Gibson claims that he has
consulted hundreds of Biblical scholars, but what the film lacks is a
panel of accountable, named historical consultants from a variety of
scholarly and religious perspectives. The Gospel of John has managed
to adapt that Gospel word-for-word without a whiff of controversy and
I think that this is in no small part due to the likes of Peter
Richardson, Adele Reinhartz, Alan Segal and co.
(3) I suspect the film also excites attention among scholars because
of its use of Latin and Aramaic. Of course Gibson had to use a
scholar to do the translation (William Fulco of Loyola Marymount
(4) If Biblical scholars had nothing to say about major cultural
events like this, then that might be further evidence of a retreat
into the ivory tower. Interest is generated much of the time simply
because the media asks them for their opinion, and they rightly
That's the way I'd see it, anyway.
Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
Graduate Institute for Theology and Religion
Dept of Theology
University of Birmingham
Elmfield House, Selly Oak tel.: +44 121 414 7512
Birmingham B29 6LQ UK fax.: +44 121 415 8376
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