Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown
A. O. Scott
. . . . . What makes the movie so grim and ugly is Mr. Gibson's inability to think beyond the conventional logic of movie narrative. In most movies — certainly in most movies directed by or starring Mr. Gibson — violence against the innocent demands righteous vengeance in the third act, an expectation that Mr. Gibson in this case whips up and leaves unsatisfied.Do You Recognize This Jesus?
On its own, apart from whatever beliefs a viewer might bring to it, "The Passion of the Christ" never provides a clear sense of what all of this bloodshed was for, an inconclusiveness that is Mr. Gibson's most serious artistic failure. The Gospels, at least in some interpretations, suggest that the story ends in forgiveness. But such an ending seems beyond Mr. Gibson's imaginative capacities . . . . "
Kenneth L. Woodward
In this "op-ed" piece, Woodward argues that many evangelicals as well as other Christians will be shocked by what they see:
. . . . . Indeed, Mr. Gibson's film leaves out most of the elements of the Jesus story that contemporary Christianity now emphasizes. His Jesus does not demand a "born again" experience, as most evangelists do, in order to gain salvation. He does not heal the sick or exorcise demons, as Pentecostals emphasize. He doesn't promote social causes, as liberal denominations do. He certainly doesn't crusade against gender discrimination, as some feminists believe he did, nor does he teach that we all possess an inner divinity, as today's nouveau Gnostics believe. One cannot imagine this Jesus joining a New Age sunrise Easter service overlooking the Pacific.Then this piece reports on a panel of experts from different religious backgrounds who were invited to watch the film and then discuss it earlier this week:
Like Jeremiah, Jesus is a Jewish prophet rejected by the leaders of his own people, and abandoned by his handpicked disciples. Besides taking an awful beating, he is cruelly tempted to despair by a Satan whom millions of church-going Christians no longer believe in, and dies in obedience to a heavenly Father who, by today's standards, would stand convicted of child abuse. In short, this Jesus carries a cross that not many Christians are ready to share . . . .
'Passion' Disturbs a Panel of Religious Leaders
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
This one is an interesting read and, incidentally, answers my question about Matthew 27.25; David Sandmel in this article confirms that the line is in the film but the subtitle is dropped.
If you still want more, New York Times has also made a special collection of annotated links available:
Spotlight on "The Passion of the Christ"