Lent / Easter

Dialogika Resources

Movie: The Passion of the Christ

The movie, The Passion of the Christ, directed and produced by Mel Gibson, was released on Ash Wednesday 2004 amid a swirl of well-publicized and promoted controversy. Many institutional and individual members of the CCJR were concerned about the film's portrayal of Jewish characters and the theological implications of its stress on extreme suffering. Below are selected statements and essays that involved CCJR members.


    1. CCJR's "Statement on the Controversies Surrounding Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (January 3, 2004)
      Twenty-five centers or institutes in North America devoted to deepening Christian and Jewish understanding issued this call for widespread educational initiatives.

    2. Ad Hoc Scholars Committee Analysis of the Shooting Script of The Passion (May 2, 2003).
      In May 2003, a group of four Catholic and three Jewish scholars ­convened by specialists at the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Anti-Defamation League submitted to Mel Gibson a confidential analysis of a shooting script of a film then called The Passion. Their work had been agreed to by Mr. Gibson, though he did not directly provide the script. The group decided to make its report available to the public after the film's opening, Except for some added or dropped scenes, the final version of the film is, for the most part, close or even identical to the script that the group read.

    3. Dramatizing the Death of Jesus: Issues that Have Surfaced in Media Reports about the Upcoming Film, The Passion
      A supplementary statement to the previous item by the four Catholic professors who were part of the Ad Hoc Scholars Group. It contains cautions about using extra-biblical materials, such as the writings of Anna Catherine Emmerich whose writings clearly shaped the composition of the screenplay. It offers three explicit questions to ask in regard to any script's use of New Testament narratives. [June 17, 2003]

    4. Creighton University's Journal of Religion and Society's Special Issue on The Passion of the Christ
      A collection of articles on various aspects of dramatizing the death of Jesus and of the Gibson film in particular. Authors include Dennis Hamm, Gordon R. Mork, John T. Pawlikowski, Adele Reinhartz, and Mark Silk..

    5. Faith, Facts, and Film-Making: Jesus' Passion and Its Portrayal
      This "Study Guide for Viewers and Reviewers" was composed by the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations and coordinated by Peter Pettit.

    6. Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations: "Concerns and Recommendations in Anticipation of the Forthcoming Film"
      A statement that urges members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to become more knowledgeable about the complexities of the Gospel passion narratives. [January 2004]

    7. The Passion of the Christ: A Challenge to Catholic Teaching
      An analysis by Philip A. Cunningham of the film's use of biblical and extra-biblical sources in relation to Catholic teaching documents on biblical interpretation and Jewish-Christian relations.

    8. Gibson's Polarizing "Passion"
      A review from a Jewish perspective by David Elcott that particularly regrets the black-and-white, evil vs. good universe projected by the film.

    9. The Passion of the Christ: A Catholic Response
      A review by Lawrence E. Frizzell of the movie's general impressions, its characterizations of key personalities, and its anti-Jewish motifs.