The controversy surrounding The Passion of the Christ

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ender Sai, Feb 25, 2004.

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  1. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
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    The more I think of it, the more I like the idea of The Passion as an anti-death penalty treatise. That is the only legitimate artistic means of reading anti-Semitism out of the film.

    You do realize that you didn't answer his question, don't you? You answered the inverse of his question.

    His question was about your inseparable connection between "ggod" jews and followers of Jesus. Your response involved "bad" jews calling for the death of Jesus.

    Could you try again? Why do you assume that any character in the movie had to oppose Jesus' death because they were a follower? Are you suggesting that all of the opposing members of the Sanhedrin were closet Christians? The New Testament would disagree with you on that (it only names one member of the Sanhedrin who followed Christ, and one or two other likely members who did so). Your assumptions just don't add up.

    Kimball Kinnison
  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    "Jesus' death because they were a follower?"

    Again, that's an incorrect interpretation of my argument. Those who opposed Jesus's death are defined as "good Jews" in the film, and in the New Testament. This does not mean that I'm assuming that eveyone who opposes Jesus's death accepted him as the Messiah.

    Bubba misconstrued my argument, and you picked up the same thread.

    Consequently, it is possible to read anti-Semitism out of the film by interpreting its artistic intent as an anti-death penalty treatise.
  3. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Let's go back to what you have said earlier (and I haven't seen it retracted, if you have I apologize):
    A bad jew, according to the film, is any Jew who didn't recognize the divinity of Christ.
    Were the opposing members of the Sanhedrin portrayed as "good" or "bad" jews? They are the ones who opposed Jesus' death, after all. By your above statement, they would still be portrayed as "bad" jews if they did not accept Christ's divinity.

    However, it doesn't strike me as that way. Instead, the "bad" jews in the film (and in scripture) would be the ones calling for Jesus' death. Others opposed this for many reasons (including legal ones and belief in his divinity).

    In other words, you arguments don't seem to add up, unless you grossly misrepresent the facts and descriptions.

    Kimball Kinnison
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Ok. My mistake, and my apologies to Bubba. I am the one who overstated my own argument. Bubba was entirely correct.

    I should have limited my comment to the film defining good jews as those who, through their actions, supported Jesus (whether as a person or as the son of god).

    That said, I don't think that in any way impacts on the inherent anti-Semitism of the film. And again, if you artificially transfer the locus of the film's artistic intent, and read it as an anti-death penalty film, then I think you remove some of the stain on its integrity, and also justify somewhat the level of violence. Then the movie is suddenly "about" the voyeristic glee of the audience in watching this man's painful death, and about the bloodthirstiness of the characters in the film who advocated, condoned, failed to prevent for political reasons, or directly participated in a man's brutal execution. In my view, this interpretation would completely salvage the movie.

    The experiment I want to see is Mel Gibson using the proceeds of the film to fund a prequel, in which he produces and directs a two-hour movie based on the events surrounding the sermon on the mount. Then we'll see how big an audience that movie attracts. If it makes $325 million in the U.S., then I'll be forced to recant. As you can see, I'm prepared to admit when I'm wrong.

    Face it, The Passion has no message other than the titilation of its violence and the blaming of the Jews for Jesus's death.
  5. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    [face_laugh]

    I'll face that when you face the fact that you're anti-Christian. Everything you've said in this thread has been driven by this compulsive need to discredit the faith of millions of people in this world, and so far, you've made a very weak case. Your points have been refuted over and over again, and what you're left with is an "opinion" fueled by bitter anti-Christianity, and contempt for those who would believe in the Passion of Jesus Christ. I've been re-told this story year after year during the time of Lent, and it has not compelled me to hate Jews, persecute non-Christians, or bred intolerance or hate of any type. I don't consider myself bloodthirsty or any fan of absurd levels of violence that are depicted in most Hollywood fare. Mostly for the reason that it depicts violence and suffering without purpose.

    What you fail to realize, as do many other critics in this country, is that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ has the ultimate purpose for mankind. The lessons are so simple even a child could grasp the significance. Man has turned away from God since the beginning of time, and it is no surprise that sin would blind humanity to the Truth, even if it were standing right in front of them. Thousands of others just as noble have been sent to death for their principles and their beliefs, for speaking out against tyranny, injustice, and evil, and the case was no different with Jesus. The Sanhedrin and the Roman government both had a compelling interest in putting this man to death, although they were blinded by their own fear, ambition, and selfishness to recognize the enormous consequences of their act.

    Ultimately, the love and grace of God abounds even more to heal the wounds of this grave sin. Instead of punishing humanity even more, He has mercifully opened the gate of Heaven to us, in the hope that many will choose to enter.

    I happen to think that's a pretty significant historical event, but you can dismiss it again if you like. You can hold tight to your opinions and your self-righteousness, but stark reality disproves you every day this movie is seen by more and more people, and not one act of violence or hatred is promoted by the witnesses to Mel Gibson's movie.
  6. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    Apology accepted, Jabba, but I'm not sure how your case for anti-Semitism still stands if the movie shows non-Christian Jews doing the right thing.

    If it has no impact, then the anti-Semitism must be something somewhere else, but what? and where?

    Regardless, this film need not be seen as opposed to capital punishment in all forms. It is enough that it shows the injustice of punishing an innocent man. The focus is not just the severity of the punishment but also the genuine innocence of the one punished, and it is the reason that there was only one right side of this event -- that those who advocated or allowed Jesus' death, for whatever reason, were wrong to do so.


    The experiment I want to see is Mel Gibson using the proceeds of the film to fund a prequel, in which he produces and directs a two-hour movie based on the events surrounding the sermon on the mount. Then we'll see how big an audience that movie attracts. If it makes $325 million in the U.S., then I'll be forced to recant. As you can see, I'm prepared to admit when I'm wrong.

    The problem is, the "events surrounding the Sermon on the Mount" is not only less visually interesting (Jesus walked up a hill; Jesus walked down a hill), but less theologically necessary. Christians preach Christ crucified and resurrected. I personally defer to Jesus as Lord because of what He did on Golgotha. What He taught on the sermon mount is how I follow, not why.

    The Gospels are clear: the main reason Jesus came was the cross.

    Is Christianity's emphasis of the crucifixion itself anti-Semitic? How? (And if so, is the Jewish emphasis on Passover hate-mongering towards Egyptians, ancient or modern?)


    Face it, The Passion has no message other than the titilation of its violence and the blaming of the Jews for Jesus's death.

    I disagree, on both counts. From the prayer in the garden to Jesus' conversation with Pilate to many of the flashbacks, the message is clear: Jesus himself laid down His own life of His own accord. Those who killed Him -- yes, some angry Jews but also sadistic Roman soldiers and a morally bankrupt Roman governor -- took from Him only what He chose to set down.

    The movie is absolutely clear on this point.
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I disagree, on both counts... Jesus himself laid down His own life of His own accord. Those who killed Him -- yes, some angry Jews but also sadistic Roman soldiers and a morally bankrupt Roman governor -- took from Him only what He chose to set down.

    Why then is the "morally bankrupt Roman governor" presented in the film with so much more sympathy, more specifically overt empathy, than the rabid Jewish crowds? Obviously this doesn't let the Roman foot soldiers off the hook for the torturing. But perhaps Mel is making a point that, like the German soldiers of World War 2, they are merely carrying out orders and that the Jews are essentially the ones egging them on.

    The spiritual "point of the movie", as you would have it Bubba, is not even contained in the film. That point is only made by the resurrection, the core message of Christianity that is entirely absent, probably because it would have detracted from the bloodfest. And it's because this film is such an incomplete message of Christianity that it ultimately sends such a negative message that is so easily reduced to that of a voyeristic pleasure in watching a man die painfully.
  8. Jedi_Rhysode Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2004
    star 2
    Why then is the "morally bankrupt Roman governor" presented in the film with so much more sympathy, more specifically overt empathy, than the rabid Jewish crowds?

    Unless you weren't paying any attention to the movie, I dont think that you'd be able to ignore that the only really "rabid" Jews in the movie were a few of the Sanhedrin leaders. They were the only ones that seemed to really want Jesus dead, and they were stirring the crowd up to agree with them. I believe it's clear that the Sanhedrin led, to a degree, by fear, and were able to scare the crowd into agreeing with their demands.
  9. The_Fireman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2001
    star 4
    The spiritual "point of the movie", as you would have it Bubba, is not even contained in the film. That point is only made by the resurrection, the core message of Christianity that is entirely absent, probably because it would have detracted from the bloodfest. And it's because this film is such an incomplete message of Christianity that it ultimately sends such a negative message that is so easily reduced to that of a voyeristic pleasure in watching a man die painfully.

    You're wrong. You haven't seen it.

    What I got out of the movie was just was Bubba said: Jesus laid down His own life, so that we might live. If anything, you could say the movie is intolerant of other religions; NOT Jews!

    Jesus made it clear in the film: He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Him, and through Him. His death and seperation from the Father was needed to bring us out of sin. His resurrection justified us.

    And that's the last I will say in this thread to you, Jabba, since you seem to be ignoring me anyway. Until you see the movie your opinion no longer matters to me.
  10. Short Round McFly Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 1999
    star 6
    That point is only made by the resurrection, the core message of Christianity that is entirely absent

    The resurrection IS in the movie.

    Oh, wait, you must've left before the end of the movie ;)
  11. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    The resurrection IS in the movie.

    Well thanks for spoiling it for me :p
  12. A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Riot Deterrent

    Manager
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    Aug 19, 2003
    star 7
    I read the book adaptation before I went to see it in the threatre. I was completely spoiled. 8-}
  13. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    The Resurrection is, indeed, in the movie -- not only overtly in the last, brief scene but also hinted at with Jesus' claim to "tear down the temple" and rebuild it on the third day.

    Theologically, the Resurrection is important, but so is the Crucifixion. The former assures us of eternal life, but the latter is what restores the rift between man and God.


    But let me touch on your other point, Jabba:

    Why then is the "morally bankrupt Roman governor" presented in the film with so much more sympathy, more specifically overt empathy, than the rabid Jewish crowds? Obviously this doesn't let the Roman foot soldiers off the hook for the torturing. But perhaps Mel is making a point that, like the German soldiers of World War 2, they are merely carrying out orders and that the Jews are essentially the ones egging them on.

    Remember, the Nuremberg trials did convict Nazis who were "merely carrying out orders."

    Was Pilate really shown in a good light? Really?

    [There is] an important point that seems to have eluded many of the film critics who have recently reviewed Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ: namely, that Pilate was not a decent fellow but a contemptible villain. These reviewers have seized on the different portrayals of Pilate and the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas as evidence that Gibson's film is anti-Semitic.

    Pilate is portrayed as a sympathetic character, they argue, who wants to spare the innocent Christ but who yields to the demands of Caiaphas and the mob that He should be crucified. Caiaphas, however, harbors no such reluctance. He agitates clearly for Christ's death. And this is undoubtedly what Gibson's film shows ? just as it is also undoubtedly the account in the Gospels.

    But is it anti-Semitic? For what the critics miss is that this account makes Pilate a far worse villain than Caiaphas. After all, Caiaphas believed that Christ had committed the ultimate sin of blasphemy by claiming to be the Son of God. As a leading representative of religious laws that condemned adulterers to death by stoning, he was almost bound to call for His execution. Caiaphas is making a terrible mistake. He may also have corrupt political motives for his actions. But he is plainly sincere in believing that, however conveniently, he has the law of God on his side.

    Pilate is on much weaker ground. He condemns to death a man he believes to be innocent ? and he does so, moreover, in a shifty manner that seeks to fix all guilt for the murder on Caiaphas and the mob and to exculpate himself.

    From the standpoint of the New Testament, according to the traditional teaching of the Christian church, and in Mel Gibson's movie, Pilate is by far the greater villain. And if any charge of bigotry can be sustained against Gibson, it is that of anti-Romanism since in addition to Pilate's murderous cowardice, the Roman soldiers are shown gleefully enjoying their torture of Christ. [link]
    Pilate is a villain, craven, cowardly, and morally bankrupt. Why do so many of us think he's shown in a good light? It's not because of Gibson; it's because of us. We think Pilate is shown in a good light because, as a culture, we walk in his shadows. We are as polluted as he was when it comes to moral relativism. Our national motto should not be "E Pluribus Unum," but rather "Quo Est Veritas?"

    You bring up the Sermon on the Mount, but there Jesus opposed two groups: the religious hypocrites and the Gentile pagans. During the Passion, He was betrayed by two groups: the ossified church leaders and the morally weak government beauracrats. The reason we think the latter was portrayed in a better light is because we're closer to them ourselves.

    We are in many ways the children of Rome, and we are often turned off by the moral certainty of the people of Jerusalem, the confidence of both the Sanhedrin and Jesus Himself.
  14. Short Round McFly Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 1999
    star 6
    From FilmForce.net:

    Mel the Maccabean
    From Christ to Hanukkah?

    March 17, 2004 -
    Could actor-filmmaker Mel Gibson be mulling another Biblical film given the resounding success of The Passion of the Christ?


    Reuters says Gibson revealed on Sean Hannity's ABC Radio program that the story of the Maccabees has "fired my imagination."

    As Reuters reminds us, "The Maccabees led a three-year war, some 200 years before the birth of Jesus, against Antiochus, a king who forced the Jews to worship false gods. The war led to the liberation of Jerusalem and rededication of the Temple that is celebrated in the Hanukkah holiday."

    "The Maccabees family stood up, and they made war, they stuck by their guns, and they came out winning," Gibson told Hannity. "It's like a Western."

    Gibson's The Passion has been widely criticized as being (consciously or not) anti-Semitic. One of his most vocal critics even before the film was released, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abe Foxman, doesn't want Gibson tackling Jewish history. "My answer would be 'thanks but no thanks,"' Foxman said. "The last thing we need in Jewish history is to convert our history into a Western. ... In his hands we may wind up losing."
  15. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    I'd say that the film has been "loudly" criticized as anti-Semetic, but not "widely" criticized.
  16. Mister_Bunny Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 5, 2001
    star 3
    You sure nailed that one, Bubba.

    Really, if someone wants to say the movie is anti-semetic, why aren't those same people saying that the source material is? Or is that what people are subtly saying?
  17. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    A Jewish writer on the arts in the London-based Evening Standard, Norman Lebrecht, recently saw the film.

    His view, that it was not anti-semitic; highly crude and over-emotional yes, a disturbing version of faith yes, but anti-semitic no.

    I take his general point to be that there are far better grounds to criticise the film than the charge of anti-semitism.

    JB
  18. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    I'm a Jew and I did not find it anti-semitic. What I'm somewhat interested in now is that international reaction. Reported from a friend in Germany:
    The Passion opened this Thursday over here. The release date was pulled forward three weeks, probably in an attempt to cash in on the controversy in the US. Still, I do not see this film doing a lot of business in Germany.

    First of all, religious representatives, whether Catholic, Protestant, evangelical (not that we have many of those) or Jewish (only the Muslim community hasn't commented so far), have universally condemned the film after advance screenings as being "disgusting", "a misrepresentation of the life of Jesus", "antisemitic" and what have you. What a blow for Mel Gibson! The very people who should have convinced worshippers to go see the film are now warning against it. A total inversion of what happened in the US.

    Critics haven't been very kind to The Passion either. My favourite comments include, "I don't want to condemn Mel Gibson for his sado-masochistic tendencies, but must he really air them in public?" and "Well, of course church leaders are outraged about this film, because it has very little to do with either the Christian or the Western enlightenment tradition. Instead, The Passion is a fall-back on prehistoric sacrificial cults" (I bet that's news to Mel).
  19. Short Round McFly Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 1999
    star 6
    One thing that wasn't mentioned so far is - Did anyone else notice how the Roman soldier arrogantly called Simon of Cyrene a Jew? Like "Carry the cross, Jew!".

    Or the fact that during 3/4's of Jesus' walk with the cross that people were crying out in sorrow of what was going on? ?[face_plain]
  20. Jedi_Xen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 4
    One thing that wasn't mentioned so far is - Did anyone else notice how the Roman soldier arrogantly called Simon of Cyrene a Jew? Like "Carry the cross, Jew!".

    Or the fact that during 3/4's of Jesus' walk with the cross that people were crying out in sorrow of what was going on?


    I noticed that. Its like only the upper class people were wanting to beat him.

    Did you notice at the beginning some of the Jewish preists were blasting the trial they put him on.

    "Why at this late hour, and where are the other members of the council?"

    Nothing anti-semitic that I seen, all I seen was a mob who happened to be Jewish, but what does that mean in the long run? We saw the mob in Gladiator cheering on the deaths of the warriors in the Coliseum. Do we all hate Romans for that?

    I dont know what the deal is, but I think it followed what we were taught in Sunday School and Bible classes quite well.
  21. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    Christianity inherited its anti-Semitism from the Romans. That much about the movie is realistic. In fact, I think this is the subtle "truth" of the movie. In a way, the film vilifies the Roman soldiers more than it vilifies the Jews. The Roman soldiers in the movie hate all Jews, not just Jesus. And Pontius Pilate shows little respect for the Jewish community he rules. This is actually a symbolic triumph of the film. Because it is the Romans who really launch Christianity as a religion and so those same anti-Semitic Romans are the cultural and to some extent genetic forebears of the anti-Semitic Christians who continue to persecute the Jews for centuries after the fall of Rome.
  22. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Christianity inherited its anti-Semitism from the Romans. That much about the movie is realistic. In fact, I think this is the subtle "truth" of the movie. In a way, the film vilifies the Roman soldiers more than it vilifies the Jews. The Roman soldiers in the movie hate all Jews, not just Jesus. And Pontius Pilate shows little respect for the Jewish community he rules. This is actually a symbolic triumph of the film. Because it is the Romans who really launch Christianity as a religion and so those same anti-Semitic Romans are the cultural and to some extent genetic forebears of the anti-Semitic Christians who continue to persecute the Jews for centuries after the fall of Rome.

    Will you please stop saying that Christianity is anti-Semitic? It is highly insulting to all Christians, and considering how many times your arguments have been refuted already, is starting to look like baiting.

    You wouldn't want that, would you?

    As with other religions and their beliefs, the policy has long been that continuing to claim that they believe something after they deny that they do is baiting. (This was the policy in the Mormonism, Catholicism, and Islam threads as well.) As absolutely no Christians have supported your claims that Christianity is anti-Semitic, and every one to address those claims has denied it, please respect their beliefs.


    Kimball Kinnison
  23. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    I respect everyone's beliefs, Kimball, however you apparently didn't read my post. It specifically addresses Christian persecution of Jews throughout history. I define that as anti-Semitism, and I'd like to know how that plain, obvious historical fact has ever been refuted by anyone in this forum. But I believe the anti-Semitism of The Passion subtly reflects back onto Christianity itself, in its depiction of Roman anti-Semitism. The Roman soldier in the film who uses the word "Jew" as an insult is a predecessor of the western European anti-Semitic tradition. I have to say I like that aspect of the film. It's brutally honest about the roots of Christian persecution of Jews.
  24. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
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    I respect everyone's beliefs, Kimball, however you apparently didn't read my post. It specifically addresses Christian persecution of Jews throughout history. I define that as anti-Semitism, and I'd like to know how that plain, obvious historical fact has ever been refuted by anyone in this forum. But I believe the anti-Semitism of The Passion subtly reflects back onto Christianity itself, in its depiction of Roman anti-Semitism. The Roman soldier in the film who uses the word "Jew" as an insult is a predecessor of the western European anti-Semitic tradition.

    I don't care how you define it, your way of expressing it is inappropriate and baiting. Please stop.

    Kimball Kinnison
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
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    I don't see how directly discussing the subject matter of this thread can possibly be deemed baiting:

    ...We Senators will talk about the film intellectually...

    I saw the film today, and was very deeply impressed by it. As a former Catholic, I noticed only minor Catholic imagery in the film; i.e. making Mary the second-most important character after Christ, but it's very minor. However, the film is creating controversy world wide.

    Firstly, the accusation of anti-Jewish sentiment. I thought this was unfounded, and like the outcries over Episode II being anti-Hispanic (I mean, it's racism to suggest that anyone of olive complexion is racist, but the people who claim that weren't only offending Maoris, they were offending intelligent people worldwide) - when it's clear that the offended parties haven't seen the film.

    Did anyone who actually saw the film find it anti-Semtitic or just powerful, intense and culturally relevant filmmaking?


    Aside from the loaded question that opens the thread, I've stayed on topic. But I understand Kimball that anyone who actually believes the film is deeply anti-Semitic, or not "powerful, intense and culturally relevant filmmaking," is no longer welcome to post here. Excellent.
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