Mel Gibson, Jim Caviezel in “Satanic Attack”?

So much has been written about Mel Gibson’s movie version of Anne Catherine Emmerich’s The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that I didn’t think I would have much to add, except my hope that its Aramaic dialogue might at least make people curious about Syriac, a dialect of Jesus’s language still spoken by Assyrian Christians from parts of Turkey and Iraq (although now in decline).

However, an email has reached me urging me to “pray” for the film. The email goes on a bit, but to summarise, it claims to report a message from a friend of Jim Caviezel, the actor who plays Jesus in the movie. This person knew Caviezel at Washington University, and apparently Caviezel has told his friend that

There are strong non-Christian movements which have arisen in recent days who are extremely hostile towards the Gospel.There are lies being circulated among the media pertaining to the film. And there are even special interest groups among “Christian” leaders who are trying to remove certain aspects of the movie to better align themselves politically which would remove significant truth from the movie.

Caviezel and Gibson have faced death threats, and this is all, of course, a plot from Satan.

As ever, one looks for confirmation for these dramatic statements from some creditable source. A couple of sites devoted to “prayer requests” carries the same email, one attributing it to Rod Handley. This seems to fit: Handley was working at Washington University at the time Caviezel was there, but it’s odd that this name is not included on the email forwarded to me or on the only other on-line source. The email also claims that when asked by his friend what he had learnt by playing Jesus, Caviezel had replied “Two words: Unquenchable Fire”: an enigmatic quote which appears to have been lifted from an interview he gave to CBN.

So, what is this “significant truth” that will be taken out of the film? If it’s so important, why doesn’t the email writer tell us what it is? And who are the mysterious “strong non-Christian movements”? Could be something completely innocent. Or it could be an anti-Semitic reference to deicide and Jews.

The email contains a couple of other odd claims. One is that the film is “not allowed” in France. I can find no reference to this at all anywhere else – indeed it seems that the film is opening there in April. I assume the current anti-French climate, along with reports about how France views religion has led to the belief that Robespierre has risen from the grave.

The other odd statement is that Aramaic, being widely spoken among Muslims, will show them “The Gospel”. This is not quite right, although Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew do have a number of words that are mutually comprehensible.

UPDATE (29 Feb): The claim about The Passion in France appears to have something to it after all, according to the latest Sunday Telegraph:

French cinema chains are refusing to distribute or screen Mel Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ because of fears that it will spark a new outbreak of anti-Semitism. France is the only European country where there is still no distribution deal for the film.

UPDATE (3 March): Reuters reports that The Passion will be distributed in France by a Tunisian Muslim:

Tarak Ben Ammar, a major film broker with business ties to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Bersluconi, told interviewers the film stressed forgiveness and blamed the Romans rather than the Jews for Christ’s death…Ben Ammar, who produced Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” and Roberto Rossellini’s “The Messiah” in the 1970s, has also been involved in the production of such popular films as the “Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” series.

3 Responses

  1. As I understand it, the controversial part which was thought might be removed is the line from the book of Matthew about the blood of Jesus being forever on the hands of the Jews and their descendants. It is doubtful that Gibson removed it. I am aware of no other scenes marked for potential deletion.

  2. I’ve just heard through other sources (not necessarily credible ones) that possibly the entire crowd-cheering-for-crucifixion scene was chopped.

  3. This article from “The Guardian” confirms it:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1157366,00.html

    “Mel Gibson has reneged on a promise to remove the infamous scriptural blood libel, in which the Jews allegedly accepted responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus, from his film The Passion of the Christ, according to one of the world’s foremost scholars, who saw a preview showing yesterday.

    Jewish groups pleaded with the director to remove the line from Matthew 27 in which the Jews were said to have cried: “His blood be on us and on our children” – words used across the ages to justify anti-semitic persecution by Christians.”

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