The Spectator

Feedback | 30 August 2003

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Comment on The Gospel according to Braveheart by Deal W. Hudson (23/08/2003)

My thanks to Mr. Hudson for a sober and fair review of this forthcoming film. It seems as if certain people at the Anti-Defamation League and in "progressive" Christian circles are so keen to avoid suggestions of "collective guilt" for Christ's suffering and death that they posit in its stead an equally untenable perpetual and universal innocence for every Jewish person who has ever lived. The Gospels record that certain Jewish leaders incited a mob, and that the procurator acceded to the mob's wishes. It is reasonable to conclude, if you grant that the story is true, that those individual Jews among the leaders and the mob are morally responsible for what they did, though the Gospel of Matthew ominously records the response of "all the people": "His blood be on us and on our children." (Mt. 27:25) As Mr. Hudson correctly notes, though, even this ought not to translate into some excuse for hatred. However, the fact that the ADL and Christian ecumenists are unwilling to face such aspects of the Gospel squarely and fairly undermines their credibility and their appeals for tolerance.

The ADL apparently resents the idea that even some individual Jews in history might have acted unjustly. This is strange, considering the frequency of such occurrences of unjust acts in the Old Testament that serve to testify to the waywardness of man and the continuing faithfulness of God towards His creatures in spite of our errors. That faithfulness is demonstrated obviously most completely in the Incarnation and the Redemption wrought by Christ. It is a shame that such a great and meaningful truth should be obscured by the pettiness of interest groups.

It tells us a good deal about the nature of modern culture that it is Mr. Gibson who must pursue reconciliation and make amends for some supposed wrong, while those who launch such baseless attacks are automatically granted some kind of moral superiority in certain circles of the religious, media and academic worlds.

Daniel Larison

Thank you for this thoughtful and balanced appraisal of Gibson's work of art. This is a film, it seems, which will rightly trouble Hollywood by portraying something real. Let them tremble; it may do us all some good.

John Hodgins

I agree with the columnist that the antipathy really seems directed at Mel Gibson's ideas and at him as an individual. The Gospels do clearly state that some Jewish authorities and quite a few individual Jews then living were responsible for the crucifixion (see Matthew 27,25). That from this should follow an indictment of the entire Jewish people at the time of Jesus, or that his death should be blamed on the current Jewish population, is preposterous (although such a point has been argued). Clearly making a movie about Christ that attempts to be faithful to our main source about him (the Gospels) is highly contentious. Some people seem to prefer porcine movies based on titillation, such as Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ. We are, after all, used to seeing religious figures of a Western background (but not the dalai lama, for example) portrayed as pure humbug.

The attempt by secularist forces to silence Gibson is outrageous: surely pluralism means being allowed to argue unpopular points? Jewish organisations should not lend themselves for this purpose. Anti-Semitism is resurgent in Europe not in the shrinking Christian environment, but rather in the expanding Muslim quarters. Just because a bunch of hotheads would like to indulge in a pogrom is no reason not to allow the peaceful majority to enjoy what seems to be a good picture.

Antonio J. N?