Is the passion movie obscene?
nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 1 12:19:18 PST 2004
Paul: I don't think the film explicitly labels Jesus
as "a Jew" but from the context it seems clear that he
and his followers are certainly Jews. Indeed, his
crime is claiming to be the Messiah and the "king of
the Jews", and this is made explicit in several
I can understand how this film could be misused by an
evil person to inflame hatred against Jews as "Christ
killers." I could imagine a neo-Nazi showing this film
to an ignorant and bigoted audience in order to
inflame their hatred of Jewish people. Lots of movies
could be misused this way (a film about the Holocaust
could be misused to inflame anti-German hatred).
But Gibson's purpose was not to point the finger at
Jews (or Romans) as Christ killers. His purpose was to
show that the wages of sin is death and the gift of
God is eternal life. His purpose was to show that
Jesus paid the price (a horrible, painful death) as a
free gift to sinners who accept his death as full
payment for their sins. Thus, everyone who sins is
responsible for Christ's death. Indeed, to point the
finger at himself, Gibson appeared in this film as the
hand of a Roman soldier holding a nail that was driven
into Jesus on the cross. In effect, by this cameo
role, Gibson was saying "I, Mel Gibson, put Jesus on
This is the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. I
know that those who don't believe what I believe may
not see the film as I see it. But no possible
definition of obscenity or pornography or incitement
can touch this film. It could be misused by an evil
person, but its meaning and its purpose is profoundly
religious and compassionate.
--- Paul Finkelman <paul-finkelman at utulsa.edu> wrote:
> Your wrote:
> "And of course the most noble people in the
> film--Jesus, his mother, his
> disciples and followers--are all Jews."
> Just as a matter of curiousity, does the film make
> clear that
> Jesus, his mother, his disciples and followers--are
> all Jews. If you
> did not know this (and believe it or not, many
> Christians do not know
> it) would the film teach that to you? I have not
> seen the film, but one
> person who did told me that there was only one
> slight reference to Jesus
> as being Jewish (someone called him Rabbi). I
> wonder what your take is
> on this.
> Paul Finkelman
> Rick Duncan wrote:
> > I am coming in late to this discussion, but I have
> > seen The Passion of the Christ twice (once with my
> > wife, and then with my 14-year old son) and I
> > you it is neither obscene nor wantonly violent.
> > It is a beautiful portrayal of the price Jesus
> paid to
> > redeem the sins of humanity. The violence is
> > portrayed (it is not nearly as violent as war
> > in movies like Braveheart and LOTR--no axes
> > into skulls, no limbs being severed, no bombs
> > exploding on soldiers or civilians). Indeed, the
> > violence is mostly a brutal scourging and beatings
> > a few scenes involving nails being driven into
> > hands and feet. The beatings and crucifixion are
> > brutal and these scenes are long, but Gibson's
> > reverence for the suffering of his Savior is what
> > film portrays.
> > It is not anti-Semitic--if anyone is portrayed as
> > cruel and brutish it is the Roman soldiers and not
> > Jewish priests. And of course the most noble
> people in
> > the film--Jesus, his mother, his disciples and
> > followers--are all Jews.
> > Basically, the movie beautifully portrays why
> > Christians believe that Jesus is the only way to
> > eternal salvation. If there were any other way--by
> > good works, or church membership, or by feeling
> > about one's sins--then the Father would never have
> > sent His beloved Son to suffer the pain and agony
> > Jesus suffered for us and which was lovingly
> > in this film.
> > I recommend this movie with all my heart to anyone
> > wishes to understand the Good News about God's
> > for His children.
> > Rick Duncan
> > =====
> > Rick Duncan
> > Welpton Professor of Law
> > University of Nebraska College of Law
> > Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
> > "When the Round Table is broken every man must
> follow Galahad or Mordred; middle things are gone."
> > "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed,
> briefed, debriefed, or numbered." --The Prisoner
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> Paul Finkelman
> Chapman Distinguished Professor
> University of Tulsa College of Law
> 3120 East 4th Place
> Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104-2499
> 918-631-3706 (office)
> 918-631-2194 (fax)
> paul-finkelman at utulsa.edu
Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle things are gone." C.S.Lewis
"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered." --The Prisoner
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