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Mel Gibson’s Bible

Religion, Popular Culture, and "The Passion of the Christ"

The Passion of the Christ was an extraordinary media event. But the film has also, and more importantly, been a religious phenomenon. Mel Gibson’s professed intent was to create not just a cinematic experience but a spiritual one. And he has succeeded for many moviegoers, most notably evangelical Christians, of whom millions have embraced the film as a presentation of Holy Scripture, a twenty-first century incarnation of the Word.

In this volume, biblical scholars Timothy K. Beal and Tod Linafelt—along with an esteemed group of contributors—offer a provocative range of views on The Passion of the Christ. Their book is organized in three parts. The first analyzes the film in terms of its religious foundations, including the Gospels and nonbiblical religious texts: What are the film’s literary sources and how does it use them? In what ways does the medium of film require a radically different way of representing gospel narrative? The second group of essays focuses on the ethical and theological implications of the film’s presentation of the Christian gospel: What do we make of its representations of female sexuality? What are the implications of focusing on the Passion in terms of atonement rather than social justice? Finally, the third section explores the film as a pop cultural phenomenon: How has the film worked to create a sense of insider status for some and alienated so many others? What can we learn about the religious dimensions of contemporary mass culture from the film’s reception?

Whether one is inspired or appalled by The Passion of the Christ, there can be no question that it is a defining moment in the cultural afterlife of the Bible. This volume tries to make sense of that moment and will prove to be a touchstone for adherents and detractors of the film alike.

208 pages | 5 halftones, 4 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Afterlives of the Bible

Culture Studies

Film Studies

Media Studies

Religion: Christianity

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part One: The Passion as Interpretation
1. The Art of The Passion
Jack Miles
2. The Good News of Mel Gibson’s Passion
George M. Smiga
3. Tragically Heroic Men and the Women Who Love Them
Tod Linafelt
4. Contexts: Theology, Devotion, and Culture
Vincent J. Miller
5. Mel Gibson’s Lethal Passion
Bruce Chilton
6. Jewish Crowd and Roman Governor
John Dominic Crossan
7. Gibson’s Mary Magdalene
Jane Schaberg
8. Mel Gibson, Bride of Christ
Mark D. Jordan and Kent L. Brintnall
Part Two: Ethical and Theological Responses
9. No Pain, No Gain?
Paula Fredriksen
10. Christ’s Passion: Homoeroticism and the Origins of Christianity
Susannah Heschel
11. Mel Gibson’s Passion
Richard L. Rubenstein
12. The Passion for Social Justice and The Passion of the Christ
Margaret R. Miles
13. The Passions of the Reviewers; Or, Why Liberals Are Right for the Wrong Reasons and Conservatives Are Wrong for the Right Ones
Mark Douglas
14. The Offense of Flesh
Mark C. Taylor
Part Three: Passion, Media, Audience
15. The Passion and the Death of God
Thomas J. J. Altizer
16. Kill Jesus
Amy Hollywood
17. Jesus’s Extreme Makeover
William G. Little
18. Lights! Camera! Action!
José Márquez
19. Seeing Is Not Believing
Jody Enders
20. The Passion in Black and White
Robert M. Franklin
21. They Know Not What They Watch
Timothy K. Beal

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