Clearly, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" inspires strong feelings. It is not only a major motion picture but an important spiritual and cultural landmark. It has prompted soul-searching and conversations on the most profound matters.
Some are deeply personal: What kind of Christian am I? Do I truly believe Jesus Christ died for my sins, and if so, what are the implications for my life? What is the real meaning of Jesus' message?
And there are the controversies: Was the movie too violent? Is it anti-Semitic? Does it skip crucial aspects of Jesus' life and message?
We've now created a new book, The Passion Papers, designed to help you think about the movie and the Passion story. It includes some of the most popular essays that we've published on the site, packaged so it might be more useful as a source of intellectual stimulation, inspiration and as a discussion guide.
In one portion of the book, John Dominic Crossan, author of the book, Who Killed Jesus? has a written exchange (we playfully call it our "scholarly smackdown") with conservative scholar Ben Witherington. We have commentaries from Jack Miles, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Christ: a Crisis in the Life of God, and from Pat Robertson, the influential television preacher. Renowned Rabbis David Wolpe and Shmuley Boteach explain why they believe the movie was offensive and poorly made.
Was the book faithful to the Bible? The vast majority of the scenes were either from the Bible or were very plausible embellishments of the Gospels. But contrary to some reports, there are scenes in the film which did not come straight from the Gospels. Where did those scenes come from?
We hope you will use The Passion Papers not only for personal reflection but in Bible study or discussion groups--a powerful catalyst for spiritual introspection. To that end, we have included many thought--provoking discussion questions as well as devotional suggestions.
If you want a book that will only toe the line of one particular view about the movie, this isn't for you. We've tried to provide a wide variety of viewpoints--some comforting, some challenging--to help you think through your own ideas about the movie and the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Click here to learn more about The Passion Papers