My entry below about Mel Gibson’s forthcoming film Passion generated some very thoughtful comments that I had overlooked until now. Rather than responding way down there, I thought it best to bring this topic to the top, as it is bound to generate more interest. The focus of the comments — a mini-debate really, between Brent and Taylor — is the historical record of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Brent defends Gibson to the extent that his film is based on an accurate portrayal of the information in the Gospels. He writes, “We clearly believe, indeed the Book of Mormon teaches, that the Jewish leadership at the time of Christ was responsible for Christ’s illegal conviction and crucifixion.” Taylor disputes the historical record. He contends, “The blame of the Jews by both NT and BoM writers is rooted in both political and theological arguments, not historical ones.”
I will not attempt to mediate the dispute about the historical facts, though my general inclination is to assume that we know less than we think we know. My point in posting was a different one. Even if the facts show unequivocally that “the Jewish leadership at the time of Christ was responsible for Christ’s illegal conviction and crucifixion,” the making of a film that emphasizes this fact may be “immoral” (borrowing from Amitai Etzioni) in that it stirs up contention between Christians and Jews. Or more specifically, it stirs up feelings of anger in Christians toward Jews. And given the sordid history of interactions between so-called Christians and Jews, I have sympathy for the concerns of the Jewish community.
I wonder if the reaction of Jews to this film (and others) is similar to the reaction that Mormons have when we feel that a film or book is not portraying our faith fairly. See my post here for that sort of reaction. Admittedly, we can distinguish Passion from Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but I think the negative reaction stems from a similar sense of feeling wronged. We may not be able to point to any “fact” in the portrayal that is historically inaccurate; nevertheless, the facts may be presented in a manner that leaves the viewer with an impression that we think is incomplete and unnecessarily hurtful.