Why the BBC thinks Jesus did not die this way
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
There are several problems with the article and I would like to draw attention to some of them here. Wynne-Jones writes:
But now the producers of a BBC drama about Christ's final days have challenged the traditional representation, saying they believe Jesus probably did not die that way.This is not carefully worded. The makers of The Passion are not saying that they "believe Jesus probably did not die" in the way traditionally depicted; they are presenting a drama in which an alternative possibility is presented. After the quotations from me, Wynne-Jones adds:
Instead of portraying Christ with his arms out wide and his legs straight down, The Passion will show him nailed to the cross in a foetal position, with his arms above his head and nails through his arms - the way, the producers claim, he may well have been crucified by the Romans.
Leading theologians accused the BBC of "misleading" the public and said it was ignoring the Biblical account of the crucifixion. But the makers of The Passion insist their ideas are based on new historical evidence.
He added that he thought the Bible did not actually explain in any detail the form of crucifixion employed.I don't think that; I know that. Anyone who looks at the Gospel accounts will see it to be the case. The article goes on to quote my friend Paula Gooder, though putting a somewhat negative slant on her remarks too:
"They have clearly decided to go for this option because it's unusual and will jolt viewers and challenge them about their assumptions," she said.I think that it is easy to over-interpret the reference in John 20 and I don't see it as contradicting the way that Jesus is crucified in The Passion (see above). The article goes on:
"Their portrayal causes a problem as it seems to ignore what the Bible says."
In the Book of John, Jesus says to Thomas: "Put your finger here; see my hands."
The Reverend George Curry, who is the chairman of the Church Society, said: "They are misleading people by distorting the facts.This too is somewhat overstated. It is incorrect to speak of "distorting the facts", not is there anything "utterly predictable" about this. On the contrary, the BBC have gone to great lengths to think seriously about the history in The Passion and it is a shame that this article does attempt to take that seriously.
"That's a serious and dangerous thing to do, but sadly utterly predictable and regrettable. Jesus's nails went through his hands, not his forearms. We should be true to history and the events that occurred."
Update (16:05): Doug Chaplin has some very helpful comments on Metacatholic. I have also been chatting to Paula Gooder this afternoon and, as I suspected, this is a case of selective and misleading quotation. Paula writes:
It is the best portrayal of the crucifixion and resurrection that I have seen for a long time. The drama as a whole including the crucifixion scene draws on some of the best scholarship available. I simply said to the Telegraph that I supposed that some people who didn't like new ideas might find it challenging, they shouldn't but they might!Update (24 August 2014): URL for the Telegraph article updated.