What Is The PASSION About?:

Correspondence from Shlomoh's Friend, Ruth Powers
February 24, 2004

From: Ruth Powers
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004
Subject: What Is The PASSION About?
OK folks!

I haven't seen  the movie myself, but last night my husband Pat saw it because his job required him to drive a group from a college in Jackson to the movie.  I trust his take on it a hell of a lot more than anyone else's.

His comments, as summarized by me, are as follows (remember, as I have been a teacher of New Testament there has been much scholarly material read and discussed in our house over the years).

Regarding the physical violence of the crucifixion:  it was violent and brutal, but so is every historical record we have of Roman crucifixion. It was not "prettied up" for mass consumption.  If you believe, as many of us in the RCC do, that Jesus did not have a full understanding of his divinity until the Resurrection --- that "kenosis" that Paul speaks of in Phillipians --- then his willingness to undergo this horror with no SURE reward does make the physical suffering significant.  If we do not believe this, then Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, "Father, please let this cup pass from me" are meaningless windowdressing.  The presentation of the pre-crucifixion torture matches the work done on the subject by a number of forensic archeologists.

Pat says that if the line from Matthew about the blood guilt of the Jews was in there, it was not translated and not included in the subtitles, as I asked him specifically to watch for it.

The presentation of the Romans follows the portrait in Luke, which was the most sympathetic of the gospels toward the Romans, since that is who it was being written for.  It is not very accurate to what we know historically of Pontius Pilate, but does fit the Lucan picture.

With regard to the Jewish leadership, his opinion was that the portrayal was not anti-semitic.  It is true that the portrayal of the leadership followed the Matthean approach, in that the underlying motivation for Jesus' crucifixion seemed to be that they felt he threatened the status quo with the Romans.

His main criticism of the movie was technical in nature --- scenes from the ministry were shown in brief flashbacks, which were edited into the story in such a way as to make them difficult for someone not intimately familiar with the gospels to understand.

With all that said, I will probably not go to see the movie myself. Pat's words were that there is absolutely nothing in it that we have not heard and become familiar with through years and years of Holy Week services (going on 48 for me and going on 32 for him). I don't need a movie to show me the story that is already central to my faith.

Ruth Powers is a Roman Catholic from Natchez, Mississippi

Contact her at kingsolnew@yahoo.com

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