The new testament: A nasty little document
‘The Passion of the Christ’, Mel Gibson’s depiction of the last twelve hours of Jesus has finally hit theatres after months of what seem to be nothing more than bigoted attacks. Detractors have called the movie anti-Semitic and have attempted to smear Mr. Gibson and even his religion in a tasteless campaign of hate.
The movie has a narrow, but extremely intense focus, capturing the pain and suffering of Jesus during torture and crucifixion. It was clearly the intent of Gibson to convey the depth of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
It is true that the film shows the Jewish high priest as the driving force behind Christ’s crucifixion, but other members of the Pharisees defended Jesus. The Romans are also portrayed in a similar light, some sympathizing with Christ and others lusting for his blood. The movie highlights the worst of Jews, and the best of Jews, the worst of humanity, and the best of humanity. Christ is shown praying for the soul of the high priest as he watches Christ’s crucifixion, hardly encouraging blame or violence.
The film has been criticized for its excessive violence. It is violent, but through violence, the most anti-violent message possible is delivered. It is not the typical Hollywood violence that devalues and disregards human life. It instead wakes up the human spirit to the reality of pain and suffering. Jews as well as Christians will experience the pain and violation being inflicted upon Christ. The film shows the inhuman nature of violence. It is simply unimaginable that anyone could be prompted to act violently as a result of this film.
After viewing the film it seems that outside of Paranoia, there are two main reasons why some radical Jews have tried to condemn it as being anti-Semitic.
1) They hate Christians and the idea of Jesus being portrayed as the Messiah. Gibson’s portrayal of Christ is not simply as a philosophical leader. The title itself ‘The Passion of the Christ’ probably irks some beyond belief. In an article called the Most contentious story ever told Naomi Seidman, the director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, is quoted as saying, “This movie is a representation of the New Testament, which is a nasty little document, it’s hard for Jews to read.” Clearly, some people hate Jesus Christ. Quite frankly, this is the attitude that the high priest had in the film and is extremely hypocritical since Seidman is complaining of anti-Semitism while acting anti-Christian.
2) A desire to stay in business. In that same article, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, after sneaking into a screening of the film is quoted as saying the film was “unambiguous” and a “poisonous accusation that the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus.” Jews represent less than three percent of the American population and to their credit are overrepresented in most professional fields in America. Clearly anti-Semitism is not running rampant in the United States. Like many in the field of politics, it would seem that the ADL needs a reason to exist and therefore is forced to go to the extreme of creating fear that the possibility of anti-Semitism may arise as a result of a movie.
A snapshot of the biblical history of Christ, Gibson’s film is certainly an artistic interpretation of the New Testament, it is however an accurate one as well. Those that attack the film as being anti-Semitic are essentially accusing Christianity of being anti-Semitic, and in fact are being anti-Christian.
This is the type of behavior that will fuel anti-Semitism, not Gibson’s movie. Hopefully the message of ‘The Passion of the Christ’ is stronger than the message of its attackers.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”