The Passion

I’ve just watched most of the last episode of The Passion (BBC1 7:30pm, Sunday 23rd March). I say ‘most of’ as I switched channels about five minutes before the end.  This was the result of my previous attempts to watch a couple of earlier episodes too. I’m not quite sure why; it wasn’t simply due to the glaring inaccuracies. And for some reason, when I watch any films or plays about the life of Christ, I usually feel the same. Something deep down inside me starts to squirm.  Why should I find such plays/films actually undermining the reality which I know by faith? Why should it be that that which I feel quite comfortable with in my mind suddenly looks extremely implausible when an attempt is made to concretise it.

Perhaps it’s all to do with how our minds work.  We have our own picture, partially based on the biblical text but embroidered by our own imaginations as to what Jesus, Peter, Pilate etc, looked like and maybe even what their voices sounded like. The ‘film’ which runs in our own mind is perfect because – as a child born of the Spirit – we’re seeing God’s Truth.  And this Truth is not locked up in a particular time 2000 years ago, nor in a film or play, which, the minute it is shown, itself becomes history. This Truth – The Christ who existed from the beginning and transcends time – is a reality now, and one which accompanies us throughout every experience, even though we may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death. This Truth – The Eternal Word – is a lightning conductor between time and eternity; a ‘direct line’ into the Absolute – The Father Almighty, Creator of all that is.  Set beside this Truth which dwells within us through grace, by faith, perhaps any attempt by humans to artificially represent it to us is always going to be doomed to failure from the outset.

  1. Going slightly off topic here, but I was glad to see this “Passion” being produced for the BBC this year. So frequently on this blog we bemoan the seemingly unstoppable advance of aggressive secularisation and yet the BBC has obviously invested a significant amount of time and programming space to this production – which has to be a welcome step.

    I thought there were some really great features of the program, particularly the depiction of the temple and the portrayal of the tension between the religious and political motivations for having Christ crucified. There were some things I didn’t like and there were some things that caused me to scratch my head and wonder why they had so obviously portrayed something that was inconsistent both historically and with the gospel narratives, but at the end of the day the fact it was being produced and was attempting to be faithful – rather than the sceptical rubbish that was on Channel 4 (the truth about the Twelve disciples being one).

    As for the issue you raise. I too found the depictions a little difficult to stomach: I always find whenever you have a man playing the role of Christ something is lost. The particular casting of Pilate with a Northern Irish accent was intriguing. I found your philosophical conclusion very helpful – as I do with all matters relating to Historical Jesus Research – as post-resurrection, post-Pentecost, spirit filled believers we are concerned not merely with the historical person of Jesus but with the Jesus who lives and reigns today and forever. (Please don’t interpret that as knocking historical Jesus research, I’m just stating that sometimes, these matters of faith are deeply personal and can’t be subject to any evaluation by academic means.)

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