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Abstract

For teachers and students in a university setting, for religious leaders - and for life-long learners generally - the advent of Gibson's film raises questions like the following. How does this film fit into the history of dramatic presentations, productions like the famous Oberammergau Passion Play or the previous cinematic versions? What has been the social impact of such presentations? How closely does this film reflect the Gospel accounts? How much are those Gospel accounts themselves responsible for their anti-Jewish use? And how accurately do the Gospel accounts reflect what we know of the secular history of early first century Palestine? Well, there are many places to begin this discussion, but it does make sense that any discussion of portrayals of the passion of Jesus should begin with a close look at the first four "scripts" - the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. My charge is to address the stark question, Are the gospel accounts of the passion of the Christ anti-Semitic? My short answer to the question is a measured "Yes and no."

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