So, once my students have done a comparative study of the accounts of Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection in the four Gospels, we then watch several clips of movies to see what directors do about the problems. How does a director handle the fact that each Gospel tells its own story, that the stories are different in many ways, and that in some instances there are discrepancies between the accounts (as laid out in yesterday’s post)?

The short answer is that sometimes directors follow one account instead of the others; and sometimes they create their *own* account out of the four by smashing them together (overlooking their differences) as if they are all saying the same thing.

For this exercise I do *not* have my students watch Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, for two reasons: (1) I am showing them only clips of Jesus movies – those portions that present the Passion narratives – whereas Gibson’s movie is *entirely* about the passion; and I have only an hour to show what I do show, not several hours and (2) well, I don’t much like the film (I’ll explain why in tomorrow’s post).

The film clips on the passion that I show are

  • The 1925 silent Ben Hur
  • The 1959 Ben Hur (Charleston Heston)
  • The 1965 Greatest Story Ever Told
  • The 1977 Zephirelli made-for-TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth.


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