Monday, March 17, 2008

BBC Passion Part II

I watched the BBC "Passion" episode two and thought it was pretty good but ended all too quickly. I'm particularly enjoying the characterisations of Caiaphas and Pilate as guys in a tight spot and trying to do the best they can. I found it interesting that the rationale for Caiaphas' move against Jesus is largely based on John 11 "it is better that one man die for the nation" etc. The dove seller who informed on Jesus looked a lot like James Crossley of Sheffield Uni too (I didn't now James could act). It is good also how the temple is being made central to the divisive issue between Jesus and the High Priest. I was a bit disappointed that there was no apocalyptic discourse apart from Mk. 13.1-2 and I wish they'd make some reference to the Son of Man at least in the passion predictions (unless the "I" subsumes them). I have to say that this Jesus seems to have a clearly Johannine understanding of his own death rather than a Synoptic one, i.e. he dies for the sins of the world and not for the renewal of Israel. I'm also still struggling with this Jesus versus the sacrificial system and it reminds me of a quote from Markus Bockmuehl: "‘What is clear is that conservatives are often just as keen on this theme of Jesus’s superiority or separation from contemporary religious Judaism as ostensibly more liberal interpreters" (Bockmuehl, Seeing the Word, 204). Otherwise I'm immensely enjoying the show and look forward to the final dramatic installment on Friday night (I'll have a bottle of red wine and a loaf of fresh bread to enjoy with it).


ReformedChristian said...

There is actually another two shows.One on Friday and one on Sunday.
God Bless

James Crossley said...

'The dove seller who informed on Jesus looked a lot like James Crossley.'

How do you think I worked out what really happended in Mark 11...?

Flint Cowboy said...


Not related to your post, but I'm on sabbatical and am getting ready to come to Buckie, Scotland, for about a month. I would enjoy having a cup of tea with you (or whatever it is red-headed Scot-Aussies drink)some time, and maybe visiting your library. I am Mark from Theological German (I think blogger may list me as flint cowboy).

Do they celebrate St. Patrick's day in Scotland?


Michael F. Bird said...

Yes, please feel free to drop in. Email me via the link on "Michael Bird" on the sidebar.

David Cartledge said...

Thank you for you very helpful comments on “The Passion”. Over all I have found the series both enjoyable and edifying. The contrast between Jesus and the powerful is highlighted very well. As I looked at Jesus and listened to him I saw three major contrasts:

1. Lowliness
Jesus shows the way of lowliness in contrast to the pride of religious and political leaders. He is continually teaching people to choose the life of childlike lowliness and weakness.

2. Serving
As I viewed the life of the two power-men yI saw them continually being served.
All the time they are surrounded by people that did their bidding. In contrast, we see Jesus continually serving. He is always expressing himself in self-giving and self-humbling for the sake of others.

3. Surrender of Self-will

The two power-men are always moving in the direction of self-will to achieve their own ends. In contrast, Jesus is always moving in the direction of his Father’s will.
He is continually attentive to his Father in trustful obedience and obedient trust. As he sets his face towards the cross, everyone tries to turn him away.
He is alone in his direction. But he knows his father and moves in his direction.

As I have looked at Jesus in this series, it has enlarged my vision of him.
The Jesus we see in the film is very human, but shining through is the Big Christ.
He is not big in the way that the world counts bigness, but is Big in God’s way.

I have also felt something of what he calls me to as his follower. He heard Jesus calling me into a cross-shaped life. Faithful obedience to the Father; self-giving and self-humbling in serving others; power through weakness and glory following suffering. This is the Jesus’ Way, the cross-shaped way that I sensed myself called into.

So for me, the series has been mixed, but I am glad I saw it.

Leon said...

The idea that Jesus was persecuted by his own religious leaders is a bit of theology that has never left historical Jesus studies. The bulk of the evidence in the NT does not support it. To put it another way, there are plenty of contradictions to this which everyone conveniently erases.

At Acts 13:28, Paul states there was no Jewish death penalty against Jesus. Also, there is none in the so-called trial scenes in John and Luke. In fact, Luke and John cannot be said to depict a trial of Jesus because they are missing too much (no parade of witnesses, no final verdict). The "trial" scene in the Marcan/Matthean narrative does not resemble a Jewish trial at all. It is either a lynching or an informal meeting. John and Luke would support an informal meeting. The only purpose of an informal meeting would have been to try to save Jesus from a Roman execution.

Josephus does not support Christian theology on this either. Jewish leaders in his writings never cooperate with Romans in the arrest and prosecution of Jewish troublemakers (from a Roman point of view) accused of a captial crime. Josephus makes it rather clear that this was a line over which Jewish leaders would never step. He even gives one example of Jewish authorities refusing to cooperate with a Roman procurator who demanded that some Jews be turned over to him.

I mention all this not to convince anyone I am right (this is just the most cursory presentation of a few bits of evidence), but to point out that the evidentiary record in the NT is more interesting than anyone realizes. Good scholarship is not about the endless repetition of theology. It's about getting excited about the evidence. "Jewish leaders putting Jesus on trial" is not a fact. It's a theory. "Jewish leaders trying to help Jesus" is also just a theory but it's a much better theory because it does a better job at explaining all the evidence (including the evidence concerning Judas).

Leon Zitzer