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.