The Moviegoer's Ignorance Regarding THE PASSION:

Correspondence Between Shlomoh And Deke Barker
February 20, 2004

Date: Friday, February 20, 2004
--- Deke Barker wrote:


I can certainly see the Romans taking away the absolute (de jure) right to execute people, if only officially. I agree, however that Roman practice was to accommodate the locals as much as possible, which they certainly did during much of their direct rule over Palestine. Accordingly, one might reasonably assume that the Romans would rubber-stamp most decisions by the Sanhedrin, even ones of capital punishment.

What strikes me as strange is Pilate's involvement as opposed to that of some other Roman official. Perhaps it was no more than because he was there during Passover. OTOH, maybe Jesus did have a large popular following even in Jerusalem, or perhaps he had supporters in the Sanhedrin -- or at least people who didn't think his actions merited execution -- especially among the Pharisees.

In addition to the absence of historical records, *ALL* early Xian and Jewish recollections and analyses of the event were tainted by bias (and fear).

IMO, the big problem for people who want to explain what happened is trying to get across the fact that, whoever was responsible, they represented *ONLY* the ruling oligarchy, whether Roman or Jewish or both, and not necessarily a majority of that oligarchy. Rulers tend to be very suspicious and jealous of those who might question their rule. Look at the situation in Iran, where otherwise innocent journalists and students are imprisoned merely for suggesting that the Guardian Council isn't representing the best interests of the Iranian people or even of Islam. Why should we assume that the Jewish and Roman leaders were any different? And why should we assume that Jews in general supported or approved such behavior?

Now, I'm writing in shorthand because you are rather familiar with the subject. But try writing to the general public, especially a public that has never given the issue much thought and knows little or nothing about 1st century Palestine, 2nd Temple Judaism, or Imperial Roman practices in the territories.

Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004
--- Shlomoh wrote:


You mention a very important thing. The mass of people, even very religious people, will be viewing a film, the subject matter of which, is beyond their analytic abilities. Gibsoon, in fact, RELIES on that. He wants the film to be experiened EMOTIONALLY, which is what the Passion Plays were all about, and a favorite of HItler and the Nazis. In fact, Hitler is quoted as saying that the dramatization of the Passion is a very important aid in pointing out the diabolical nature of the evil Jew.

Rabbi Mintz did not even touch on this and the whole Jewish negative response does not talk about it - and the reason is that many of these Jews are as intellectually out of touch with the subject matter as are most Christians. You know that I always bitch about Americans being Biblically ignorant.

So movie goers are going to be plunged into a spectacle which will overwhelm them and about which they will be incapable in any kind of a less than mind numbing way.

Now there are questions you ask and I can only give you my opinion based on info I have gathered over the decades. These are also opinions but they make sense to me from what I know of Jewish history - and knowledge of Jewish history is important to the movie goers but since they will only experience the movie one dimensionally, they will be influenced subliminally - which will probably make the Gibsons happy.

About J's followers in Jerusalem. Jesus had very few fans in Jerusalem. His whole follower base was in Galilee, mainly in and around Capernum. Few Jews in Jerusalem knew him and what they knew about him was that he and his followers caused problems for them, like upsetting the Temple area. Did Jesus have friends in the Sanhedrin? I doubt it. There would be no rationale for that.

Pilate's involvement. If it's an historical fact that he was in Jerusalem then, he would BE involved. What people call Holy Week is a week of INSURRECTION! This insurrection has not been recorded or documented enough. But the gospels supply hints. There was an insurrection in the City. The "cleansing of the Temple" was part of that insurrection. Jesus' group, probably along with some Zealots, attempted a takeover of the Temple. The story we have of the overturning of the tables is watered down. The evangelist says that Jesus would not allow anyone to pass thru the Temple carrying vessels. The word "vessels" KEYLIM is probably a short form for the expression KEYLIM-MILCHAMAH, "weapons".

Bar-Abbas led a different contingent of insurrectionists. His group acted out more violently as the evangelist says he "committed murder"; in Bar-Abbas' own view, it was not murder at all; it was killing Romans or Jewish sympathizers. Two men are crucified along with Jesus. They are not "thieves". No thief was given capital punishment. They were LESTOI, "freedom fighters". The NT word for thief is KLEPTOS, applied to Iscariot.

Pilate is the proper person to preside over the judgement of the insurrectionists. They all run and hide. This includes Jesus. His location is betrayed as is the location of Bar-Abbas. They are brought to trial along with the other two LESTOI who probably were also leaders of the rebellion. Pilate is a mean and vicious governor; so much so that he later had to be recalled for a genocide against the Samaritans. He mingled the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices. He is not a good guy. He was not interested in what the people thought about who was on trial. He didn't wash his hands. He pronounced judgement and sentenced men to death. Bar-Abbas escaped this death maybe because HE had friends in the Jewish government. He was, after all, a freedom fighter, a Jewish equivalent of Arafat, may his name be cursed.

All this will be missed by the TYPICAL person who goes to see the movie. They will be INSPIRED! And their judeophobia will increase. The most religious and inspired will be affected the worst! And bad blood will be generated between Jews and Christians. It's already begun. Each group is already making utterances less than complimentary about the other. You don't hear it here on this list.

Deke Barker is a member of the church of The Disciples Of Christ.


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