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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

This review of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ reveals its anti-Semitic tendencies. Bestic reveals what, he claims, is rampant anti-Semitism through the characters of Pilate, Caiaphas, and Satan. Pilate is revealed to be both obviously anti-Semitic (lamenting over the presence of the Jewish people in his district and insulting the intelligence of that population), and also a convert to the case of Christ whom he attempts to treat fairly.

His conversion legitimizes his anti-Semitism in the film"he takes the side of God against those who are trying to persecute Him. Pilate's distaste for the Jewish people is also legitimated in the film by painting Caiaphas, the high priest, as purely evil. Caiaphas is portrayed as having no sympathy or feeling of humanity toward a suffering individual.

This film does not show him as struggling to preserve his faith, a position at which the biblical accounts hint. Caiaphas is seen as so loathsome that his being is merged with the depiction of Satan over the course of the film, most notably as he watches the beating of Jesus. Jewish children also appear demonic as they plague the guilty conscience of Judas. Bestic argues that the overwhelming anti-Semitism of the film is unavoidable and is the leading legacy of the project.

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