While Mel Gibsons controversial film The Passion of the Christ is still drawing criticisms from many Christians, a new book written by leading Biblical historians and critics is waiting to be published in August to reveal a deep level of analysis on the film.
The main criticism of the new book titled Jesus and Mel Gibsons The Passion of the Christ: The Movie, the Gospels and the Claims of History comes from considering the movie as more based on a novel from the visionary meditations of an early nineteenth-century nun than on the gospels. The book insists that only around 5% of the film is based on the gospel accounts of Jesus death.
The 208-page book, from the contributions of nine different scholars, gives thoughtful, factual assessments of the historical and scriptural accuracy of the film. The book also includes the contribution made by non-gospel sources, particularly the nineteenth century Catholic nun and visionary Anne Catherine Emmerich.
In his essay "Hymn to A Savage God" John Dominic Crossan comments; "In this film, about 5% comes from the Gospels, that is, the general outline and sequence of events; about 80% comes from Emmerich, that is, the details and characters that carry the best and the worst of the non-Gospel additions and expansions; and about 15% from Gibson, that is, everything that escalates the violence above that already prevalent in Emmerich.
When the film was launched it received backing and acclaim from large numbers of Christians who saw it as an opportunity to use it for evangelism. This was despite allegations of anti-Semitism, charges of hypocrisy and warnings that the film was incomplete in its theology.
John Dominic Crossan continues; "It is surely fascinating to consider that a magnificent publicity campaign has persuaded thousands of conservative, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians to support enthusiastically an early twenty-first century film based only indirectly on the Gospels but directly on an historical novel from the visionary meditations of an early nineteenth-century Roman Catholic nun."
He also noted how the film impacted Christian sub-culture in the US as it increased the demand of Christian-themed products.
"Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ" is edited by Kathleen E. Corley, Oshkosh Northwestern Distinguished Professor and Professor of New Testament at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Robert L. Webb, an independent scholar living near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, along with nine other contributors around the world. American scholars who contributed to this book include:
* Dr. Glenna S. Jackson, Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio;
* Dr. Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University, Chicago, Illinois;
* Dr. Mark Allan Powell, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio;
* Alan F. Segal, Professor of Religion and Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York; and
* Dr. W. Barnes Tatum, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Greensboro College, North Carolina.