15 February 2004

Is reading the Bible silently or aloud considered anti-semitic? Is one reads one of the four Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus, is that anti-semitic? If someone says, ”I’ve made a movie about the last twelve hours in the life of Christ, and it is faithful to the accounts in the Bible,” is that anti-semitic?

Knowing the link rot is a distinct possibility, I want to quote from this article concerning Diane Sawyer’s interview with Mel Gibson. The interview is scheduled to be aired on Monday, February 16, 2004 on ABC. Here are the sentences I don’t fully understand:

The R-rated movie, set for release Feb. 25, details the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus. Gibson maintains it’s a faithful biblical narrative, but some worry that its depiction of the role of some Jews in the death of Christ may lead to an increase in anti-Semitism.

Among them is Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, who has seen the film twice.

Gibson told Sawyer the film was not anti-Semitic and was instead about ”faith, hope, love and forgiveness.”

”To be anti-Semitic is a sin,” the actor-director said. ”It’s been condemned by one Papal Council after another. To be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I’m not.”

The ”Primetime” program also includes an interview of Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Foxman told Sawyer he does not believe Gibson or the film are anti-Semitic but added that the movie ”has the potential to fuel anti-Semitism, to reinforce it.”

History happened. We have multiple, reliable accounts of that history. Clearly, there were many people present that day. There was the Sanhedrin. It existed and met and made decisions. The Pharisees were there. There were Sadducees present. Pilate’s role is pretty clear. Caiaphas’s role is pretty clear as well.

The point is that citizens, Roman and Jewish, were part of the crowd. Clearly, there was interaction between elements of Jewish life, faith and culture of the day and the government which was Roman.

I guess I’m confused as to how anyone other than those who are hypersensitive to a study of history can find fault with the telling or retelling of the events at this period of time. All of the whining about how someone – likely ill-informed – might interpret that history serves as a distraction from the far more powerful message of faith, hope, love and forgiveness. It is certainly more powerful than placing blame could ever be.

The only way to form your own opinion is to read the passages that tell the story:

  • Matthew 26-28
  • Mark 14-16
  • Luke 22-24
  • John 17-21
Then, begin to understand the alignment or the synoptic nature of the accounts.

These are far more learned ways to form an opinion, understand the point and be able to discuss the issues. Otherwise, critics are doing nothing more than shouting, ”Wrong answer!” without ever knowing what the original question really was.

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