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Color photo of actor playing the role of Jesus></h3>
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"The movie is biblical, powerful and potentially life-changing." Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. 5


"There is no salvation for those outside the Church." The response by Mel Gibson when asked if someone who is not  Roman Catholic, can be saved. 6


[This movie] "is going to bring the Church away from me-ology back to theology." Adrian Rogers. 5


""The film portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish 'mob' as forcing the decision to torture and execute Jesus, thus assuming responsibility for the crucifixion."

"The film relies on sinister medieval stereotypes, portraying Jews as blood-thirsty, sadistic and money-hungry enemies of God who lack compassion and humanity."

"The film relies on historical errors, chief among them its depiction of the Jewish high priest controlling Pontius Pilate."

"The film uses an anti-Jewish account of a 19th century mystical anti-Semitic nun, distorts New Testament interpretation by selectively citing passages to weave a narrative that oversimplifies history, and is hostile to Jews and Judaism."

"The film portrays Jews who adhere to their Jewish faith as enemies of God and the locus of evil." The Anti-Defamation League. 7,8

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"The Passion" chronicles the last twelve hours in the life of Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ), including his betrayal by Judas, his trial, and his execution by the Roman Army circa 29 to 36 CE. (The exact year is unknown and a matter of active theological debate.) The screen play was based on a blending of the accounts from the four canonical Gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, with extra-biblical sources. It was released to thousands of movie theatres across North America on Ash Wednesday, 2004-FEB-25. This is the first day of Lent, which extends each year until Easter Sunday. In 2004, Easter falls on the same day in both the Western Christian denominations and Eastern Orthodox churches: APR-11.

Mel Gibson co-wrote, directed, and co-produced the "The Passion." Author Benedict Fitzgerald was also involved in the writing of the screenplay. Gibson also financed the $25 million movie through his company, Icon Productions. "Hollywood's major studios all passed on offers to distribute the film; New Market [Films] agreed to [d]istribute it for a fee, as it did the sleeper hit 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'." 1

The movie gross on its first day of showing was very close to the cost of the movie itself. It subsequently grossed US $111,500,000 during its first five days of viewing in the United States. The Passion of The Christ was less popular, on a per-capita basis, in Canada, where it grossed only US $ 6 million. (The population of Canada is one tenth that of the U.S. so some observers were expecting on the order of $11 million gross). It was the most popular movie in North America during the weekend following its introduction.

The movie has probably created more controversy than any other movie in recent years:


Some commentators have charged that the movie is anti-semitic, because it blames "the Jews" for the death of Yeshua. Many are concerned that the movie may inspire a wave of violence against Jews and criminal acts against Jewish property.


Many conservative Protestants are excited about the potential of the movie as a powerful evangelical tool to "save" those who have not yet been "born again."


Other conservative Protestants oppose the movie because its director is a Catholic; they are concerned that Gibson is using the movie as a propaganda vehicle to spread Catholic teachings.

Over time, we expect that the movie will have a major affect on Christians' beliefs. Their grasp of the details of his arrest, trial, flogging, crucifixion and death will probably be based more on the movie than on the Gospels themselves. The visions of two Catholic nuns: St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)  and St. Mary of Agreda (1602-1665), whose visions formed such a major part of the movie, will have a profound affect on Christians' understanding of the events leading up to Jesus' execution.

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The passion - lite version:

According to Bruce Davey., Mel Gibson's partner at Icon Productions, "There has been quite a demand by the religious community to bring [the film] back for Easter. And there has been a lot of discussion about the violence. Mel wanted to try and accommodate those people by making a version that is softer and gentler." A slightly less violent version of the movie is being produced with five to six minutes deleted from the most violent scenes -- particularly that of the scourging. This edition will not have an age restriction in many jurisdictions. It is expected to run in from 500 to 750 theatres.  4

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Topics covered in this section:


About Mel Gibson, the movie's co-author, producer and director


About the movie itself: actors, source material, languages used, financial success, etc.


Are the Gospels, the movie and the historical record in conflict?


Is the movie anti-semitic?


Should children and teens see the movie?


Comments on the movie by:

Conservative Christians




Secular media reviewers


Ordinary movie goers


The main author of this web site

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Books related to "The Passion of The Christ," and the movie sound track:

bullet The following book provided much of the material shown in the movie:
Anne Emmerich, "The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ," Tan Books, (Reprinted 1994). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
bullet The "exclusive and official companion volume to Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion:"
Published by Tyndale House, (2004). Gibson provides the forward. Ken Duncan provides the photographs. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
bullet The soundtrack of "The Passion:"
Produced by Sony (2004). Hear sample tracks or order a CD safely from online store

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Related essays in this web site:

bullet Deicide: the murder of God: About Jesus' execution
bullet An overview of 2,000 years of Jewish persecution

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Order the movie:

movie icon Read hundreds of reviews or order this movie on DVD safely from Or order it on VHS

horizontal rule found the following books that deal with the passion of Christ and/or the movie:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Mel Gibson's PASSION Opens in 2,000+ Theaters,", 2004-JAN-15, at:
  2. The official web site of The Passion of the Christ is at:
  3. Beliefnet created a section on their website to discuss this movie. See:
  4. "Gibson relaunches "Passion of Christ" with a new cut," AFP, 2005-FEB-10, at:
  5. "Gibson's Words Fuel Controversy," Agape Press, 2004-FEB-20.
  6. Peter Boyer, "The Jesus War," the New Yorker, 2003-SEP-15.
  7. "ADL Concerned Mel Gibson's 'Passion' Could Fuel Anti-Semitism if Released in Present Form," Anti-Defamation League, 2003-AUG-11, at:
  8. "Why is Passion of The Christ considered anti-semitic?," Quora, 2016-APR, at:"

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Copyright © 2004 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-FEB-24
Latest update: 2016-SEP-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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