Monday, April 21, 2008

The Passion: More Q&A

It has been a few weeks since The Passion aired on BBC1 and I have not blogged on it for a while. It may be over, for now, in the UK, but there are important things to look forward to. The first will be the DVD release at some point in the coming months. The next will be the American broadcast next year on HBO. No doubt there will be other broadcasts too throughout the world at different stages, and I will keep my eyes open for what is going on. I may also, from time to time, offer further reflections on The Passion as time goes on. My recent return to England was quite refreshing in the number of people who talked to me about their experiences of watching The Passion -- there was so much positive feedback. I don't have a lot more to talk about at the moment, but I want to draw attention to one more addition to the BBC's Passion website, more "Q & A" with Nigel Stafford-Clark (producer) and Frank Deasy (writer):

The Passion: Questions and Answers II

These questions and answers relate primarily to episodes 3 and 4, on the crucifixion and resurrection (warning: contain spoilers!).


Geoff Hudson said...

A question that isn't answered is this: Why would Pilate want to abolish the Jewish laws? (Ant. 18.3.1) I thought Romans had no interest in matters of Jewish law, as for example in the trial of Paul before Gallio (Acts 18:14, 15).

Gallio is quoted as saying,
"If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanour or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law, settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things."

May be someone knows the answer or where I can find the answer.

Geoff Hudson said...

A question asked of Frank Deasy was:

Just out of interest why didn't Jesus go to see Herod?

His answer was:

"Time constraints, in terms of the scenes themselves and the space to fill in yet another historical/ political backdrop."

So how important to the story was this particular aspect of the political backdrop? My question would be: Which Herod was the enquirer referring to? Somehow this Herod and Pilate seem to be inextricably linked. Has an important step in the history been missed?

Geoff Hudson said...

So what did the Flavian editor of the writings attributed to Josephus have in his source document when he wrote: 'But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws?' (Ant.18.3.1). I assume no-one really believes that a Roman procurator (a prefect), no matter how bad, would be so stupid as to adopt a policy in complete opposition to his leaders.

A word that comes immediately to mind in connection with the law is 'prophets'. So I ask did the source refer to someone who wished to abolish the prophets and not the Jewish laws? But what interest would a Roman have had in abolishing the prophets? None, if the prophets were anything like peaceful Essenes. But did someone else have an interest in abolishing the prophets, a new ruler may be, such as Agrippa I? Had Pilate in fact finished his tour of duty and gone home? At the time of the prophet, was there a new Jewish king in power over Judea? Was this the real Herod of the Gospels, and was it his aim to get rid of the prophets? A king would have had the power of clemency.

And the king would have removed his army from Herodium or Masada to Jerusalem to take their winter quarters there.

James Snapp, Jr. said...

Mark G.,

I haven't seen The Passion, but I took a look at the link (to the interview w/Nigel Stafford-Clark and Frank Deasy), and a few red flags are waving already:

>> "Our decision was to focus on the reality of Jesus' suffering, his extraordinary ability to think of others even then, the moment when he almost loses faith and the moment of transcendence when he reaffirms it." <<

This seems like another way of saying that they decided to abandon/ignore parts of the record that got in the way of the portrait of Jesus that they wanted to paint.

>> Q: What was the point in having those other two actors purporting to be Jesus?
A: . . . "Given that they had been with Jesus 24/7 for three years this would suggest that it was not physically the same person."

But for the same reason, they would not identify a total stranger as Jesus.

>> "The two disciples experience Jesus' physical presence for a brief moment" <<

I'm curious: how is this visualized in the film? Does it closely follow Luke's account?

>> "We . . . decided that the best way to present the Resurrection was just as the Gospels describe it. If you refer to John 20 v14-18 and Luke 24 v13-31, you'll see that we're faithfully reflecting on the screen what is described in their accounts." <<

John and Luke state that Jesus had a different face in verse . . .?

>> . . . Life of Brian "was the only other version of this story that had made an attempt to put it into a historical and social context, as we were doing." <<

A while ago there was this little project that Mel Gibson was directing; maybe they've heard of it . . .

>> Q: "Why (were) Jesus' last words, as recorded in John 19:30, omitted?"
A: "The phrase "It is finished" comes from John which was written nearly 100 years after the events it describes." <<

The traditional dating (mid- to late 90's) implies a 70-year gap. Stretching this to "nearly 100 years" is, well, stretching.

>> "I don't agree that I have omitted the line but reshaped it." <<

He's wrong, isn't he. He omitted "It is finished" and replaced it with something he made up.

>> "When I replay the scene I feel a powerful connection with the character of Jesus and most of all his journey - and in the end that's what I choose to trust." <<

Without "It is finished," can there be any doubt that Nigel is basing his depiction of Jesus' last words from the cross on his own ability to present Jesus' last words more accurately than John did?

>> "By the time we arrive at Gethsemane the basic conventions or "rules" by which we are telling the story have been established - essentially naturalistic storytelling . . ." <<

Was there a depiction of Jesus sweating in prayer, with an angel strengthening Him? No? Soldiers falling to the ground? It sounds like some things were ignored in the name of naturalistic storytelling. Maybe that's not the best possible technique for a film about the Son of God.

>> "For Mary I saw the moment when she cries out "No" to Jesus' cry of abandonment as the climax of her journey from resisting God's will for her son to strengthening him to carry it out."

Uh, yeah, just like the Gospels say. If a detail that's presented only in John is warped/removed sheerly because it is only in John, why has special effort been made to include details recorded in *no* Gospel? Where's that majority-report principle now?

>> . . . "A second intention was to dramatise the possibility of redemption and forgiveness for Judas." <<

Which logically contradicts the sentiment of Mt. 26:24, Mk. 14:21, Lk. 22:22, and Jn. 17:12.

Btw, was Luke 22:34a used in The Passion?

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

Geoff Hudson said...

Interestingly, Mat.27:3 tells us that "they handed him over to Pilate, the governor". But the parallel passage, Mk.(15:1) simply has: they "turned him over to Pilate". The assumption in Mark is that everyone knew who the person was to whom the prophet was handed over. So was the prophet handed over to Pilate at all? Was it someone else who everyone did know and would need no qualification? Thus Matthew knew Mark's source that did refer to a different well-known authority. So Matthew added "the governor" to Mark's substitution of Pilate for the other well-known person.

On page 66 of his book James The Brother of Jesus, Eisenman implies that "Pontius Pilate perhaps came to Palestine a decade earlier than is normally reckoned."