Ched Myers on Mel Gibson’s Passion

/ 9 June 2004

I’ve pointed off to so many reviews of Mel Gibson’s film that even I’m getting tired of reading about it. But this morning I ran across a review that was published a couple of months ago by Ched Myers, a NT scholar. It’s a compelling review that seeks to “offer an alternative reading of the gospel narrative of the arrest, trial and death of Jesus that takes seriously the legacy of anti-Semitic hermeneutics, but which also preserves the integrity and reliability of the scriptural texts.” It’s lengthy, but well worth reading. Here’s a “teaser”:

I will show below that a careful literary analysis of Mark reveals it as a powerful parody of the political-legal process that condemned the prophet Jesus. This “fiction,” understood within the historical and social context in which it was produced, reflects an even-handed critique of the Judean and Roman authorities, indeed portrays their collusion. Moreover, it articulates a sophisticated political theology which understands that resistance to injustice will inevitably bring confrontation with “the Powers.” But it also believes that nonviolent witness will ultimately prevail over opportunistic politics and brute force.

If you, or the communities you work with, have a fairly strong view of biblical authority, but also want to take seriously the ways in which biblical texts have been used to perpetuate anti-semitism, you owe it to yourself to read and ponder this review.

PS: Finding a link for Ched Myers led me to Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, "a circle of mutual aid for non-traditional gospel ministry." They're worth a look, too!