New Testament scholar compares the ‘Jesus of Hollywood’ to the historical one
By Kendall Madden
There's nothing new in the piece, especially if you have read others of Fredriksen's pieces on The Passion, e.g. The Gospel According to Gibson: Mad Mel, New Republic Online, July 25, 2003, and History, Hollywood, and the Bible: Some Thoughts on Gibson’s Passion, SBL Forum, and Pain Principle, in New Republic Online, February 27, 2004. There's one element I'd like to comment on again, though:
"Gibson may genuinely believe that what he has presented in his film is the same as history, but the claim itself is demonstrably false," she said. "Gibson, in his script, picked and chose from among all four Gospels—an element here, an instance there—creating from his montage a fifth 'gospel' that has never existed."There are two questionable elements (to me) in this line of criticism. The first is the idea that Gibson has claimed historical accuracy for the film. As I have commented before (e.g. in my article in the Corley and Webb (ed.) book), it is possible that this is the case, but if so, I've not been able to find a single documented example. (See further my post Historical Accuracy of the Passion of the Christ). The second is the surprising way in which Fredriksen, along with other NT scholars have criticized the film's harmonizing approach, something that is entirely to be expected in the Jesus film tradition. Again, for more detail, see my article previously mentioned, or an old blog post, The harmonizing tradition in Jesus films.