The ridiculous anti-Semitism charge

The ridiculous anti-Semitism charge

Apart from the he said/she said back and forth with the Vatican over whether the Pope liked The Passion, we have these continuing charges that the movie is anti-Semitic. And it has nothing to do with extra-biblical material supposedly added by Mel Gibson. No, the problem is with the Gospels themselves.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in an interview that he has all but given up hope Gibson’s final cut of the film will omit problematic material from the synoptic Gospels. Most mainstream Catholic and other scholars now believe some material, particularly quotations and chronologies drawn from the Gospel attributed to Matthew, is not only inaccurate but also a provocation to hatred of Jews.

Catch that? “Problematic material from the synoptic Gospels.” In other words, these critics would have a problem with any movie that was a faithful adaptation of the synoptic Gospels. And notice how “mainstream Catholic” scholars are said to, essentially, reject the divine inspiration of the Scriptures? Neat move to pre-emptively label any scholar who says otherwise as out of the mainstream.

Whether or not you think The Passion is a movie you want to see or not, this discussion should make every Catholic, every Christians for that matter, wary. What we have here is members of another religion telling us that what our faith teaches is unacceptable to them and that we must discard it. That is just wrong and should be opposed.

Foxman says that when he snuck in to a screening of the movie, his worst fears were confirmed that Jews were portrayed as bloodthirsty and responsible for the death of Jesus. But Foxman say what he wanted and expected to see. Yet, faithful, unbigoted Christians saw the same movie and came away without hatred for Jews.

To use Foxman’s logic, we should have expected people to leave a showing of Schindler’s List with hatred for Germans, and to start persecuting Germans today for what their ancestors did. In fact, as opposed to the Jews of Jesus time, we actually have some Germans from the World War II-era still living so they must bear even greater responsibility for the Holocaust, right?

The idea that any Jews would leave Schindler’s List with hatred for all Germans is just as absurd as assuming that any Christians would leave The Passion with hatred for all Jews. You will leave the theater only with what you bring in with you.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
3 comments
  • “Most mainstream Catholic and other scholars now believe some material, particularly quotations and chronologies drawn from the Gospel attributed to Matthew, is not only inaccurate but also a provocation to hatred of Jews.”

    As Dom said, this is NOT an “Mel” issue. It’s an attack on what Christians know to be the Word of God.

    First of all, “most mainstream Catholics,” I daresay, aren’t even familiar with the Gospel according to Matthew, never mind his chronologies.

    Secondly, Matthew’s audience was specifically Jewish…this is why, for example, he took such great pains with his genealogy of Christ. He wrote his Gospel, inspired by the Holy Spirit, for the conversion of Jews, as he himself, a Jew, was converted.

    Dom writes:

    “What we have here is members of another religion telling us that what our faith teaches is unacceptable to them and that we must discard it.”

    Actually it’s much worse than that (and applies, I believe, also to your thread on the Lectionary).

    What we have here are members of our own faith telling us that parts of the Word of God are unacceptable.

    Which is unacceptable.

  • Foxman is just furious that he cannot call up Michael Eizner and have the whole thing canned.

    I almost choked at dinner when CBS reported on the issue and used the descriptive phrase it “the latest Hollywood movie.”

    Authentic Christianity will, of course, offend the sensibilities of Jews, especially the ones who probably don’t go to Temple very much anyways.

    These Jewish leaders want the Cardinal Kaspar treatment, sorry Charlie. 

  • I’ve been saying this for some time—it’s clear from the statements about THE PASSION made by the ADL and other (mostly secularized) Jewish groups and scholars (and even some nominally Christian “scholars”) simply consider Christianity as such to be anti-Semitic.

    I’m all for real dialog with our elder brothers, those who actually practice Judaism. But even acknowledging these other people is pretty pointless.

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