Catholic Reaction to the Top 10 List

phatmass phorum -> Some Arguments In Concerns Of The Passion

No, the Pope hasn't been at my little blog. Someone posted the list at a Catholic message board, asking for refutations. I'm quite pleased with the results.

The original poster had this to say about Mary and her children: "Number 9 is obvious, so just skip it." Obvious, indeed. Sometimes the word "brother" means someone who isn't your physical brother. This is true. However, sometimes the word "brother" does means "your physical brother". In fact, I'd say, most times, the word "brother" means "your physical brother". It's what the word was invented to describe. It would take some serious context to make someone think that the word "brother" didn't mean "your physical brother". This context is not present in the verses about the brothers of Jesus It is only imported by a need to honor a doctrine not present in the scriptures, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. If you didn't have that doctrine, you wouldn't need to manipulate the simple meaning of the word "brother".

You would think that no one in the first century ever used the word "brother" to describe their brother!

The second poster says: "what's the difference? mel said himself that it's his view of the gospel. i wouldn't sweat it." Mel has said a lot more than that about this movie. His intent was to reproduce what cameras would have filmed had they been able to film the events of that day. He's going for history. Had he not stated these desires, I would agree with you and find no fault in the film. It's the claims for history that set my teeth on edge.

The third poster agrees with my number 10 - the nails went in the wrist.

The fourth poster says: "For number two, they actually work on the assumption that the Gospel accounts were (purposely?) falsified." And this is a problem because...? The actual assumption is that the writers were human, and the possibility of being wrong in their account exists. Based on their limited information about that night, they came up with a story and made it better over time. That's pretty much a scholarly consensus.

The fifth poster is disdainful about the nails in the wrist. Doctors refute my point, he says. South American crucifixees get nailed in the hand, and they don't fall off. "Does it matter? No." Wow. That's a dedicated level of head-burying." It could be my way, and anyway, it doesn't matter!"

And I note that this poster is refuting the third poster above, not my actual post. Focus, focus!

The sixth poster notes that the Dolorous Passion by Emmerich has the palms being nailed. Well, she was there, she must know. . This poster enlightens us with the tale of Jesus, size medium, being fitted onto the extra large size cross. Too bad this poster couldn't have informed Mr. Gibson of this completely unsupported item: he was looking for ways to brutalize the Savior.

The seventh poster: Again with the nails in the palms. This was number 10 for a reason, folks. To recap: crucifixions could last for several days. It's not just about the hanging there. The nails went into the wrists, because over time the hands could pull free, due to the constant stress of having to pull yourself up to get a decent breath.

The eighth poster skipped on down, thank goodness, and addressed the Koine Greek item. Unfortunately, this person doesn't take the time to read what I say. I never say that Aramaic or Latin wasn't used - in fact, I clearly say that they were used in certain situations. I'll even say here that most situations approached in the death of Jesus would have been either Aramaic or Latin! But Greek was the English of the day. Gibson excised the language from the film, even to the point of altering the scriptural detail of Greek being a third part of the incription over Christ's head! Greek was there - it would have been there. Gibson's omission is another strike against the historical character of his work.

Oh, I just saw - seven, eight, and nine? Same poster. Anyway, now he's skipping down to my #4: the point about blasphemy.

When Jesus was before the high priest three things happened that indicate the nature of the blasphemy:
1. Two men came forward (to give false witness, remember by Jewish standard 2 witnesses are enough to condemn a man) and said that Jesus had said "I am able to destroy the temple..." He was understood to be claiming a power higher than the temple, He put Himself above institutional Judaism in other words and a claim of dominion over God's temple is basically a claim of having authority equal to God.
According to Mark, the two witnesses, who agreed on the statement quoted, did not agree among themselves on the particulars. Their testimony was impeached, IOW. Nobody knew what Jesus meant by that statement, and he evidently wasn't talking. Why should he? He'd seen a parade of witnesses that fell one by one to questioning. All they had on him was some allegory, which wasn't a hanging offense (although perhaps it should be).
2. The high priest asked Him what He had to say in His defense. He does not deny the claim but remains silent which means the priests probably percieved that He was endorsing this statement. Then the high priest adjures Him to tell them if He is the Christ, the Son of God. Obviously they weren't asking Him if He was a child of God like we all are. It was in the context of His claim to an authority even greater than the institutional Israel.
This made me do a little digging. It turns out that in this context, Caiaphas isn't asking him if he's a child of God like we all are. I was wrong. He's asking him if he claims another title that belonged to the kings descended from David.
2 Samuel 7:14 - I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. (Nathan speaking for God about Solomon).

Footnote: In Israel and contemporary societies, the relation between father and son was used to express the special relationship between the dynastic deity and the king, who was regarded as the adoptive son of the national god; for David as the son of the Lord, see also Pss. 2.7; 89:26-27.

Ps. 2:7 - I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have begotten you."

Ps. 89:26-27 - He shall cry to me, "You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!" I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

All quotations from the Harper Collins Study Bible, NRSV.
So as you can see, the title "Son of God" isn't blasphemy, it's a title belonging to the descendant of David who is King in Israel. It's a title that belongs to the Messiah. It's not blasphemy. Thank you for making me relook my point - it's stronger than ever.

The third item: Jesus is quoting a well-known messianic passage from Daniel. It wasn't blasphemy to claim to be the son of man, not even this Son of Man. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

The tenth poster points out gently that Emmerich's writings aren't dogma.

The eleventh poster? Same guy as the fifth poster. He'd like to say that any joker can publish a blog. He goes on to anticipate lots of anti-Catholic statements when he goes to the show. Nice retreat to the ad hominem, ironmonk.

The twelvth poster steps up to defend Blessed Emmerich. "Nothing of what she says contradicts Scripture." That may well be - I haven't looked into it. She appears to be the Max Lucado of her day, and there's nothing wrong with that. She does appear to be quite anti-Semitic, though, with her story of how the cross that crucified Jesus was made in the temple by Jews. Perhaps she was just a product of her time, and the good can be gleaned from her writings while leaving back the bad. But no one should think they're looking at authoritative history when reading her devotions.

Let me restate again: If Mel was only filming a devotional exercise, I wouldn't care what he put into his film. If it was simply a case of how he sees it, fine! Put your vision on the screen. But Mr. Gibson has promoted this movie to be a historical account of those last twelve hours, and this claim is demonstrably false. The Passion of the Christ will be a masterpiece of cinema, and incredibly powerful as a spiritual exercise. But it is not history.