Thursday, June 09, 2005

David Shepherd's Passion Writers' Interview

On Deinde Danny Zacharias points to the following article on the latest SBL Forum:

From Gospel to Gibson: An Interview with the Writers

Danny adds that he awaits my comments. I don't have anything fresh to add on this except that it is good that the MP3 of this session has been made available. I was at the session from which the recording was made and made comments here:

SBL Passion of the Christ interview -- Fulco and Fitzgerald

But an addendum. I recently ran across another account of the event that contrasts a bit with mine, and which is sharply critical of mine. It's by Shawn Landres on Religion and Society

"Scholarly" Conversation on the Passion
By contrast, here's what Mark calls "tough" interviewing: "David Shepherd did put the difficult questions, though, and in particular pressed Fulco on the issue of Greek." Mark "wondered whether Alice Bach was a little starstruck; she did not ask any difficult questions ...and she was a little touchy-feely with Fitzgerald as if very pleased to be sitting up there with him." Considering that Alice Bach was the only woman on the panel and the only one of the three interviewers to raise the issues of antisemitism and violence--no doubt she was pushing the boundaries of some list of pre-determined interview topics--this is a deeply unfair, not to mention incredibly disrespectful, description.
The opening of this quoted passage is misleading: I do not talk about "'tough' interviewing" so the quotation marks around the word 'tough' are incorrect. The point of what I was saying in context was my surprise that Alice Bach and Clayton Jefford did not really push Fulco and Fitzgerald on what I would regard as the difficult questions. It's something that really surprised me, since Shepherd, as the chair (as it were) I would have expected less to bring up those issues than the specially invited academics. I am sorry that Shawn feels that my description was "deeply unfair, not to mention incredibly disrespectful". It was not intended that way; I was attempting to describe, admittedly somewhat journalistically, what I observed at the session, with no disrespect to any of the participants intended. I suppose what made such an impact on me was the relaxed, too-friendly nature of this session after the vituperative session that immediately preceded it in the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media, with Paula Fredriksen, Adele Reinhartz, William Campbell and others all weighing in. To have witnessed those two sessions back to back, neither of which allowed audience participation, left me reflecting on the remarkable difference between the two. I was the more frustrated with the first, much less well attended session because it was one of the standard SBL sections at which audience participation should have been obligatory, rather than a "special event" like the second of the two. But I do agree with Shawn that this, too, should have allowed audience participation.

Update (6 July, 17.08): Peter Chattaway has some useful comments in FilmChat, Passion writers speak.

1 comment:

Shawn Landres said...

Mark, you're right that I shouldn't have put "tough" in quotation marks - it incorrectly implies that those were your words. I am glad that we agree about the problematic lack of audience involvement.