Via Media

Before you start reading my thoughts, you should probably go read what Charlotte Allen has to say in the LA Times.

Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” may well be the best movie about Jesus Christ ever made. Yet, though he claimed to be striving for historical fidelity — to the point of re-creating ancient Jerusalem in the southern Italian town of Matera and insisting that all dialogue be in Aramaic or Latin — the film contains so many minor but distressing historical and linguistic inaccuracies that the overall effect is one of cognitive dissonance for anyone who has deeply studied the Roman and Near Eastern world of the 1st century. That includes me, although I am a medievalist by academic training.

I loved “The Passion,” but I wanted to love it even more….

These are all niggling mistakes, to be sure, but they come up constantly in “The Passion.” Furthermore, there are academics who combine sophisticated New Testament scholarship and genuine Christian faith and could have helped Gibson make a more persuasive film. To name a few: Luke Timothy Johnson, a Catholic; N.T. Wright, an Anglican; Ben Witherington, an evangelical Protestant. But their voices have been drowned out, leaving Gibson to follow his own misapprehensions about Jesus’ world, by the John Dominic Crossans who have managed to persuade us that faith and scholarship don’t go together.

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