Friday, March 05, 2004

More on The Passion

Charles Krauthammer says that Gibson's movie is "a singular act of interreligious aggression. He [Gibson] openly rejects the Vatican II teaching and, using every possible technique of cinematic exaggeration, gives us the pre-Vatican II story of the villainous Jews".

Krauthammer's position is that "Gibson deviates from the Gospels -- glorying in his artistic vision -- time and again. He bends, he stretches, he makes stuff up. And these deviations point overwhelmingly in a single direction -- to the villainy and culpability of the Jews."

Eamonn McCann, writing in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph, doesn't feel Gibson needs to deviate from the Gospels to produce an anti-semitic work. "The New Testament is, among other things, an anti-Semitic tract. It is the source of the anti-Semitism which has characterised Christianity for two millennia."

In The Spectator {I can't figure out how to link to this article}, Bruce Anderson goes some way along McCann's road, although he has high praise for Gibson's movie describing it as "a work of great power; so great a power that it is almost worthy of its subject matter".

Anderson feels that the charge of anti-semitism cannot be laid at Gibson's door.
Nor should he be accused of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism is in the Gospels, especially Matthew. 'Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be upon us and on our children.' If anything, Mr Gibson could be charged with political correctness. Although his Jewish mob shouts the words in Aramaic, they are not translated in the subtitles. In this film, the Roman soldiers beat and abuse Christ all along the route to Golgotha. That is not in the Gospels. One Roman soldier also sneers 'Jew' at Simon of Cyrene: another invention of Mr Gibson's. It is as if he wishes to retreat from the message of the Gospels and spread the blame more evenly between the Jews and Romans.
Or, it could be that Gibson is trying to emphasize the fact that Simon of Cyrene was a Jew, so was Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, etc.

This seems to me to be the crux of the controversey surrounding this movie. Is it about two distinct groupings, US & THEM, and how THEY crucified Jesus? Or is it about US and how WE crucified Jesus because we are all sinners. Again, I'm not a theologian, but my own lay post Vatican II interpretation is that the latter is the correct view. This is what I believe most Christians (Catholic or otherwise) are seeing when they watch The Passion, regardless of what Gibson intended.