I just finished watching The Passion of the Christ. Yes, I know, I’m a little late. But I finally got around to watching it to see what all the excitement was about. Well, it’s an OK movie, but certainly takes quite a few liberties with historical accuracy, it was way too violent, and theologically it just doesn’t mesh with what my faith teaches me actually happened.
Lets address the violence first. Yes, I know some of you are going to be all up in arms about what I’ve just said, but hear me out. There is plenty of historical evidence to back this up. The Romans were great bureaucrats and left surprisingly detailed records of their policies and procedures. We have a number of these that detail the torture methods that were employed in that time, and based on all of them, Mr. Gibson went overboard on the scourging.
Also, there are also a number of cultural issues, such as Christ speaking latin when the language of the Roman Empire in that area would have been greek. Here’s a great paper, written by a couple archaeologists that discuss a number of those issues. It’s titled Two Archaeologists comment on The Passion of the Christ and was published by the Archaeological Institute of America.
Now we get to the crucifixion itself. The shots of the Romans driving the nails through Jesus’s palms were completely wrong. The greek word used can mean either hand or wrist, but there’s a bunch of historical evidence that points to the wrist. Here’s an abstract of a paper written by a few doctors and published by the AMA: On the physical death of Jesus Christ. To sum it up, it was a violent, painful, and slow way to die.