Is Mel Gibson's The Passion "pious pornography" or devotional artistry? The lead-off essays in this collection, by popular Jesus researcher John Dominic Crossan and British New Testament scholar Mark Goodacre, will remind readers that on this question, as with nearly everything connected with Jesus of Nazareth, scholars can be depended upon to disagree. For Crossan, The Passion presents a "vision of a savage God" animated by anti-Semitism (Jesus and his disciples are never shown wearing yarmulkes, whereas the Jewish leaders are). For Goodacre, the film can be seen as "an extraordinarily powerful vision" in which the anti-Semitic tendencies of Gibson's sources have been muted (Gibson presents the sympathetic figure of Simon as a Jew, though some traditional sources have identified him as a pagan). Unfortunately, the remaining essays in this book, by an even-handed assortment of scholars, rarely equal Crossan's and Goodacre's incisive arguments. Nearly all the writers concur on a few points: Gibson adds and subtracts freely from the gospel texts, and depends heavily on the 19th-century mystic Catherine Emmerich. Ultimately, they say, his work must be judged as art, not history. But these nuggets of insight are obscured by pedantic writing and wooden interpretations that rarely do justice to Gibson's own passionate, provocative filmmaking.I haven't seen the full manuscript yet so can't comment on this rather mixed review, though naturally I can't help feeling a little pleased to see "incisive arguments" next to my name!
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Publishers Weekly on Passion Book
Amazon.com have have added a pre-publication review of Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. It's taken from Publishers Weekly: