The Gospel According to Mel

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photoAfter a string of early successes and an Oscar for directing, Hollywood superstar Mel Gibson fell into despair in his mid-thirties. He pulled himself out through the faith of his youth, a deeply traditionalist Catholicism that rejects even popes.

Gibson came out of his experience with the decision to make what he calls "a historically accurate" representation of the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. The studios weren't so interested in the film, which Gibson insisted on making in Latin and Aramaic. Gibson, then, produced "The Passion" with $25 million of his own money and no clear prospects for a distributor. He said that the screenplay was written "by the Gospels" and directed "by the Holy Ghost."

The movie has raised more earthly concerns. Months in advance of its release, a group of clergy and scholars claimed that the movie's script is not only historically inaccurate, but at odds with Roman Catholic doctrine. At best, they worry that the film could damage Christian-Jewish relations. At worst, some charge, it could revive the violent anti-Semitism that swirled around Passion Plays of medieval Europe.

Click the "Listen" link to hear how Mel Gibson's new film "The Passion" is shining a spotlight on conflicting interpretations of the Gospels, and on a split between Roman and traditionalist Catholics.


Peter J Boyer, staff writer for The New Yorker, author of "The Jesus War: Mel Gibson's Obsession" in the September 15 issue

Paula Fredriksen, Professor of Ancient Christian History at Boston University, author of "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," and "Mad Mel," which appeared in the July 28 issue of The New Republic

Michael Medved, film critic and nationally-syndicated radio show host

Barbara Nicolosi, Director of Act One: Writing for Hollywood, an interdenominational screenwriting training program that stresses artistry and ethics.

This program aired on December 26, 2003.


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