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The Passion of the Christ Controversy

The purpose of this paper is to take an in-depth look at Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of Christ," about the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. The paper focuses on the debate that has accompanied the movie. This debate involves whether Gibson's movie was a work of art that made the spiritual message of the crucifixion of Christ come alive for viewers or whether it was an overly violent movie that promoted anti-Semitism. The debate is examined from several angles. These include examining reviews of the movie as well as discussing it in relation to religious studies, history, philosophy, art, and violence in film.

Movie critics Roger Ebert (2004:1), Daniel Edelstein (2004:1), and Lutheran Minister Robert Benne (2004:1-2) all reviewed Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ." Edelstein's review portrayed Mel Gibson as a man obsessed with the cinemagraphic portrayal of violence throughout his long career.

Given this obsession, it was no surprise to Edelstein that Gibson spent time "wallowing is his [Jesus'] torture and death." Edelstein (2004:1) briefly acknowledges the centrality of Jesus' death on the cross to Christianity but feels that to focus on the last 12 hours of Jesus' life is to necessarily focus on the part of the Gospel that most reflects historical and current 'tension' between Christians and Jews and is, therefore, sure to cause a stirring of anti-Semitic urges and impulses.

On the other hand, while Roger Ebert (2004:1) and Robert Benne (2004: 1-2) are not without concerns about inspiring anti-Semitic urges in viewers or the movie's violence, they both feel that for the first times in their lives, they understand the idea of Christ as 'pascal lamb' in a far more profound way than they ever did before.

Indeed, if there is anything that distinguishes both sides of the debate about "The Passion" it is what this film did to their understanding of Christ as Redeemer from Sin, especially at the emotional l...

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The Passion of the Christ Controversy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:02, December 06, 2021, from