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. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
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    Jabba, you say the "whole point" of the New Testament is, among other things, "The Jews did not 'get' what God was all about."

    THE OLD TESTAMENT SAYS THE SAME THING.

    How many times did God have to remind the Jews of the Old Testament that they strayed? Why do you think God allowed the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness? And Babylonian captivity?

    Moses, David, Solomon: the greatest heroes of the Old Testament all strayed.

    Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekial: God's prophets continually reminded Israel that the entire nation had strayed.

    If you want to condemn groups of so-called Christians for their anti-Semitism -- all contrary to the New Testament, I might add -- be my guest.

    But is it really, truly shocking that some of the Jews might actually have missed God's will in Jesus' time, given their nearly unbroken history of missing God's will again and again -- as it's recorded in their own holy texts?

    I don't think so.
  2. WormieSaber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 5
    Christians did not seek to bury this aspect of the religion until the Holocaust revealed itself as the ultimate manifestation of Christian anti-Semitism.

    I don't blame the christian religion for manifesting the holocaust. The basis for the holocaust goes far beyond religion. It is misunderstood why the jews suffered as they did during the holocaust. But is it not true that Jesus suffered too? (if you believe that, that is)? We see movies glorifying the suffering of the holocaust, rightly so (and people should learn from it) but when there is a movie that depicts a realistic picture of Christ's own suffering it's called anti-semantic. And so christians shouldn't talk about Chist's suffering because it's considered anti-semantic, but we see many movies about the holocaust.
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    There are some important differences. Schindler's List for example, is a highly fictionalized version of what is nevertheless a well-documented true story. As a German I might complain that the film is anti-Germanic, whereas other people will say, sure, but the main character, the hero of the story, is a German. But that's irrelevant because the story is basically true and everyone knows it, and no one has a right to complain about a true story, which by definition is not defamatory.

    The Passion, on the other hand, is a dramatic rendering of a biblical tale, the factual historicity of which is completely unknown and at this point unknowable. As a Jew I might complain that the film is anti-Jewish, whereas other people respond, sure, but the main character, the hero of the story, is a Jew. If you're Christian, you feel it's a true story, just like Schindler's List, and no one should be allowed to complain about the telling of a true story, because truth is an absolute defense to defamation. But if you're Jewish, you don't necessarily believe it's a true story, and so you may feel that it's needlessly defamatory.

    But the point is that the film shows no sensitivity to this critical problem or perception, or to the quandary that, without evidence of a story's truth, it is defenseless against accusations of defamation.
  4. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    jabba,

    whether you believe that it is true or unconfirmed or not does not change the fact that billions of other people do believe the historical proof for Christianity.

    Your position is akin to someone who doesn't believe that the Holocaust happened calling Schindler's List anti-Germanic.

    Kimball Kinnison
  5. Master_Fwiffo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2001
    star 3
    Odly enough, isnt that the same thing Jabba was accusing Gibson of earliar in this thread? Hmm?
  6. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    whether you believe that it is true or unconfirmed or not does not change the fact that billions of other people do believe the historical proof for Christianity.

    I'm gonna jump in here for a moment. But isn't the only historical proof the bible and some other second-hand accounts? If that's the case then I'd say there's not much of a historical basis for this belief. ;)

    Billions of people can believe something that is not entirely true. Just as millions of Germans believed or at least passively acknowledged that jews were evil, money-grubbing scourges of the planet that deserved to die. Same concept only magnify it.
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I'm gonna jump in here for a moment. But isn't the only historical proof the bible and some other second-hand accounts? If that's the case then I'd say there's not much of a historical basis for this belief.

    But if that evidence has been accepted as just as reliable as most other historical evidences, then would that not be a sufficient historical basis?

    Kimball Kinnison
  8. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    Yes, but you see there's actual physical evidence that these people existed. We have paintings, sure, if you actually think Jesus was white. Or how about his "shroud"?

    I don't see historians quoting the bible as if it's historical fact.More like "These people existed, sure, but did they really see these things?" ;) I'm a skeptic about this whole story, wasn't it written years after Jesus' death? Spooney Bard tripe I say!



    BTW, large numbers does not equate a fact. I'm sure there's a large portion of people that believe Elvis is still alive. That doesn't make it a fact, does it? :p
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I think I could get "billions" of historians on record to testify that the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus is not of the same quality or magnitude as the historical evidence for the holocaust, but why are we discussing this?

    I'm willing to go on record saying that

    1) the story of Jesus' crucifiction is not defamatory against Jews, if true. If true it's just history. But its historicity is a hotly contested point, even among Christians, many of whom believe that the "truth" of the New Testament is of an allegorical nature.

    2) yet even "truth" does not clear the film of charges of insensitivity.
  10. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    There are no Christians who believe the story of Jesus is just allegorical.

    There are "Christians" who believe that (i.e. "I was raised Catholic") but they just won't admit to being agnostics or atheists at heart.



  11. WormieSaber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 5
    But if that evidence has been accepted as just as reliable as most other historical evidences, then would that not be a sufficient historical basis?

    That is a great point. The Bible has harsh judges, whereas other aspects of history do not require such harsh judges.

    Actually, the Bible has a great reputation in the field of archeology.
  12. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    But if that evidence has been accepted as just as reliable as most other historical evidences, then would that not be a sufficient historical basis?

    The point is, it has not been accepted, except of course by biblical scholars, as "just as reliable"

    There are two issues. 1) the usefuleness of the gospels themselves as historical evidence (the separation of the dates of the earliest texts of the gospels from the events in question, the earliest dates of independent references to the existence of the gospels, the likelihood that the text of Mark was used as a source for the text of all the other gospels) and 2) the usefulness of the closest non biblical references to Jesus and Christianity: Tacitus (we don't know Tacitus's source), Josephus (likely Christian interpolation), Pliny (makes reference only to "Christ", not "Jesus" and makes no reference to the historical events).

    But because of the gap between the events and the earliest possible dates of all references, non biblical historical reference are much more important to the history of the development of Christianity as a religion (the effort to track down the history of early church figures and the development of the Christian literary canon) than to the historicity of Jesus.

    But tying this all back to The Passion, the effort of the film to portray itself as a docudrama as opposed to a "passion play", as well as the narrative liberties the movie took with the text of the gospels, add to the suspicion about the film's underlying motives. An example of interpretive liberties would be the unjustifiable overemphasis of the scourging, the concerted effort to foreground the manipulativeness of the Jewish leaders (where in the gospels does it mandate the notion that Jesus was first ordered beaten and then set free by Pilate, only after which the Jewish leaders went back to once again demand an execution?). It's an interpretive gesture that I think grates on some people who see the movie. I understand the narrative drive to explain Pilate's motives for ordering Christ to be beaten to the point of death prior to his crucifiction, but it is certainly not a narrative position required by biblical text. It also serves to make the Jews look even worse.



  13. Warriorpoet Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 2001
    star 2
    F_I_D

    I'm sure there's a large portion of people that believe Elvis is still alive. That doesn't make it a fact, does it?



    :mad: Elvis is not DEAD! he just went home. [face_laugh]
    MIB 1, :cool: I love that line.


    Speaking from a purely seculer point of veiw, the contraversy is the only thing this thing had going. Boring!

    This reminds me of Indian Spear Fishing up here in Wisconsin. About fifteen+ tears ago the natives would go out spear pickup truck loads of fish, and the whites would be there on the landing protesting. There would be a war of words, few fist fights and hurt feelings. It went on like that for a couple of years.

    Then one year the protestors didn't show up, the news people had nothing to shoot. Once the contravercy went away most of the Natives lost interest in spearing.


    If you take away the contravercy from this film it really doesn't stand well on it's own. On the plus side, I complained about how bad this movie was so much, that I got free passes to Scooby-Doo, that was a good movie.

    I give Passions a thumbs down. Save your money, go buy Jesues Christ Superstar at Wal-mart, you'll get more entertainment for your buck.
  14. Obi Anne FF admin Celebrations, Europe

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    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 1998
    star 7
    It premieres here tomorrow and most of the focus of the reviews seem to be that it is simply just blood and gore film dressed up as a religious film. A lot of people also mention that it looses quite a lot as a story about Christianity if it isn't clear on the resurrection and salvation that came after the suffering.

    The thing about anti-semitism seems more to be of the kind that "yeah, they've complained about it in the US we have to mention it in someway when talking about the film".
  15. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    WarriorPoet:

    Attack of the Clones
    Fellowship of the Ring
    Harry Potter I & II
    Pirates of the Caribbean

    What do these films have in common? They have all made LESS money in the U.S. than The Passion of the Christ [source].

    You want to chalk up nearly a third of a billion dollars to "controversy"? When controversy wasn't enough for films like the Last Temptation of Christ and Dogma?

    You're deluding yourself. For better or for worse -- and I think it's for the better -- this film has resonated with a very large part of the American people. It has become a cultural event.


    Jabba:

    First, the most one can suggest is that Mark impacted the gospels of Matthew and Luke. John stands as a unique complement to the other three "synoptic gospels."

    I wonder, have you ever argued that the gospels aren't trustworthy because of minor disparities and seeming contradictions?

    Just wondering...


    Second, and I may have missed your answer to this question, have you actually seen the movie yet?


    Finally...

    An example of interpretive liberties would be the unjustifiable overemphasis of the scourging, the concerted effort to foreground the manipulativeness of the Jewish leaders (where in the gospels does it mandate the notion that Jesus was first ordered beaten and then set free by Pilate, only after which the Jewish leaders went back to once again demand an execution?).

    "Unjustifiable"? Do you mean, you don't think it's justifiable or you don't think it can be justifiable? Do you have archaelogical evidence to support the idea that scourgings were, really, no big thing?

    But to answer your question, look at John 19. Pilate had Jesus scourged (19:1), paraded him before the people (5), and the Jewish leaders still demanded Jesus' execution (6).

    Anything else?
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Are you saying there are inconsistencies between the gospels? I don't remember ever arguing that in any of our other threads, only that they copied from each other or from the text of an unknown author.

    So, with four different accounts of Jesus's trial and execution, Mel basically mixed and matched where he wanted to. Consequently, we can't in the interest of full disclosure say "Mel Gibson's version of the passion is true to the Gospels." We have to say "Mel's Passion mixes and matches the four gospels, according to his own personal tastes."

    These interpretive choices allowed him to emphasize the violence of the scourging, as well as emphasize the manipulative efforts of the Jewish leaders. We can say this was not necessary for an "accurate" interpretation of the gospels, because Mel could have taken the route of any one of the other gospels.

    So, if a case of anti-semitism against the film is valid, it may not simply be for reasons of inherent anti-Semitism in the gospels, but also because of Mel's interpretive choices, or maybe exclusively because of Mel's interpretive choices.

    In terms of the four different versions of the story. Remember, I've agreed that the absolute historicity of Mel Gibson's version would clear it of charges of anti-Semitism, because truth is an absolute defense against charges of defamation. But since Bubba you've acknowledged that there are several versions of the story, and Mel cherry-picked among them, the only way Mel's version could be considered historically acurate is if he simply lucked onto the correct interpretation (if in the event that some mixture of the versions is correct).

    My conclusion is that Mel can't rely on his film being a neutral reproduction of the gospels as a defense to anti-Semitic intent. I would say his interpretation was a very activist one, for example his dramatic embellishment of the three-part scourging, first with sticks, then with spiked chains, then flipping Jesus over to make sure he was done on both sides, then his creative mixing of Luke and John to draw attention away from Pilate's "hand washing" guilt toward the manipulative Jewish leaders.
  17. The_Abstract Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2002
    star 4
    Mel didn't really mix and match what he wanted to. You would find much of what he chose in The Passion plays of Catholic parishes around the world. His only Biblical error, as far as I could tell, was the backstory of Mary Magdalene. But it does serve a purpose to make a strong theoligical point in the movie.

    The treatment of the Jews remains far within the realm of the USCCB guidelines, and Mel offers gracious examples of balance in his film through the characters of Simon of Cyrene, a tormented Judas, and a rebuked (not condemned) Caiaphas.

    You're still chasing ghosts. There has been no collective or widespread anti-Semitic response to this film, so, according to your beliefs, Mel Gibson has made the most unsuccessful anti-Semitic film in history.

    I would suggest seeing this film sometime in the next week, spending next weekend at church in the contemplation of the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and see if that all squares up in your head. If not, well, there's always hope for the future.
  18. NotoriousDB Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2003
    There are some things that have been said about this movie with anti-semitism the major culprit. Honestly, I am the son of a baptist preacher and heard this story on more than one occasion (actually 50 times at least. The thing I loved the most was when Jesus was carrying the cross. When Jesus was walking through the streets with the cross, the presence of the devil in the crowd would have definately been felt. The part in the movie where the Devil is holding the child, if you notice, the child has the mark of the beast on his shoulder. This could symbolize two things. One could be showing Jesus that the devil is holding its child and protecting it as if to say, "I am taking care of my child, why isn't your father." Secondly, this could represent the antichrist. Just thought I would point that out. GOOD THREAD!!!!
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Mel didn't really mix and match what he wanted to. You would find much of what he chose in The Passion plays of Catholic parishes around the world.

    Your first sentence doesn't follow at all from the second. Just because other people might make similar interpretive choices doesn't mean that Mel's version of Jesus's death wasn't blended fron the four stories exactly the way he wanted it to be.

    I would suggest seeing this film sometime in the next week, spending next weekend at church in the contemplation of the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and see if that all squares up in your head. If not, well, there's always hope for the future.

    No thanks. It was gruesome enough the first time around. My one prayer for those who go see this movie is that they will overlook the latent anti-Semitism and embrace the film as a heart-wrenching treatise about the evils of torture and the death penalty.
  20. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    You're still chasing ghosts. There has been no collective or widespread anti-Semitic response to this film, so, according to your beliefs, Mel Gibson has made the most unsuccessful anti-Semitic film in history.

    That's because there's nothing that can be done to prove that it wasn't anti-Semitic.

    If there were a rise of anti-Semitism, it's just proof that it was anti-Semitic, and the naysayers were right.

    If there isn't a rise in anti-Semitism (or even a drop in it), it's not because the movie wasn't anti-Semitic, but because the protesters were so vocal.

    You see, in their minds, there's no space to admit that they could possibly be wrong. There's no room for the possibility that the film isn't anti-Semitic, or that Gibson had no intent to make it seem anti-Semitic. He has already been tried and convicted of the charge of bigotry and anti-Semitism, and there is no appeal.

    Kimball Kinnison
  21. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    "Where there's smoke, there's fire. The lack of smoke proves that the fire is well hidden."
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I know what the southern Baptist church was like when I was young. If attitudes have changed recently it's more because of the post 9/11 anti-Islamic backlash than anything else. Much of the Christian right sees Israel as our ally in a holy war against Islam. Almost all the websites about the error of "replacement theology" have sprung up post 9/11. It's so much fun to see so many posters insist, apparently with a straight face, that "not only is this how it is, but it's the way it always HAS been with the church." Even C.S. Lewis, one of the most thoroughly debunked Christian thinkers of the 20th century, would have been ashamed of you for living in such extreme intellectual denial.
  23. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    "Even C.S. Lewis, one of the most thoroughly debunked Christian thinkers of the 20th century, would have been ashamed of you for living in such extreme intellectual denial."

    Is it un-Christian of me to take such pleasure in irony such as this? In the irony that Jabba would, in one glorious sentence, condemn Lewis as "thoroughly debunked" and condemn us for being in intellectual denial?

    Jabba, I should probably go ahead and ask for details backing up your assertion that Lewis is "one of the most thoroughly debunked Christian thinkers of the 20th century." (Debunked on what issues? By whom? Where? Infidels.com?)

    But I've come to expect no such details on any of your assertions -- not on the anti-Semitism of Gibson's film, and not on the anti-Semitism of the New Testament.

    The most I've seen concerning your accusations about the New Testament is this little bit of illogic:

    - Historical claims about Jews doing bad things aren't anti-Semitic if they're true.

    - The historical claims of the NT can't be verified.

    - Therefore, the NT must be anti-Semitic.
    Did I misstate your argument? As I present it here, it's illogical; the furthest you could reach with the first two claims is that the NT might be anti-Semitic, not that it must be.

    Regardless, your argument about the anti-Semitism of the NT is hardly thorough.

    I've asked -- repeatedly -- if the Jewish scriptures themselves are anti-Semitic since they portray the Jews in a very negative light. You've yet to answer my questions.

    (I wonder: do you think the Jews worshipping a golden calf at the foot of Sinai is more verifiable than the crucifixion of Jesus? If it isn't, then -- by your standards -- it must be anti-Semitic! Or, if not, why not?)

    Anyway, you've been quite evasive about Gibson's film, the NT, and the OT. I don't expect you to be forthcoming about Lewis.


    Regardless, the irony is delicious.
  24. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I never once argued in any of my posts that the ahistoricity of the gospels is proof that Mel Gibson's film is anti-Semitic. You only make yourself look foolish by pulling down your own straw man.

    What I argued that Mel Gibson's film can't be defended from charges of anti-Semitism on grounds of the historicity of the biblical account, nor can it be defended from charges of anit-Semitism on the grounds that is a neutral reproduction of the gospel account.

    I argued that Gibson cherry picked from the four gospels to enhance the film's (and the gospel's) anti-Jewish message.

    About C.S. Lewis, much greater minds than his (Descartes, Pascal) couldn't make a logical case for Christianity. Small wonder that he failed too.
  25. SLR Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 20, 2002
    star 5
    Keep up the good fight Jabba!!! I agree wholeheartedly w/ you, but I lack the knowledge in this area to argue as well as you are doing.
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