'The Passion': What's Not in the Bible?

Because scripture is silent on certain details, Mel Gibson drew from extrabiblical sources to craft his 'Passion.'

The complete version of this article is available in Beliefnet's The Passion Papers.

"I wanted to be true to the Gospels," Gibson has said of his goals in creating "The Passion of the Christ." In an introduction to a book about his movie, he wrote, "Holy Scripture and accepted visions of the Passion were the only possible texts I could draw from to fashion a dramatic film."


But because scripture is silent on certain details of the Passion, several scenes in the movie aren't found in the Bible. Many of Gibson's additions are quite plausible embellishments of brief biblical mentions. Some came from other religious sources, like the visions of the mystic nuns

Sister Anne Emmerich


Mary of Agreda

. And a few scenes, apparently, are inventions--often artistically daring ones.

It's hard to divine a pattern from the portions that were added. Some seem to highlight the Jewishness of Jesus and his family. For example, at one point when Jesus is first being beaten, Mary awakens, as if from a nightmare. Sensing Jesus' pain, she says, in Hebrew, "Why is this night unlike any other night?" This is a famous part of the Jewish liturgy for Passover, the season during which Jesus was crucified. Other added scenes seem to make Caiaphas more villainous and Pontius Pilate more sympathetic. Still others just seem to make for a more dramatic narrative.

Below are both Bible citations and nonbiblical sources for selected movie scenes.

Jesus prays in Gethsemane
Bible references:

Mt 26:36-46; Mk 14:32-42; Lk 22:39-46

In the movie but not the Bible:
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