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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Mel Gibson's Bible: Religion, Popular Culture, and The Passion of the Christ
Beal, Timothy K. and Tod Linafelt, editors

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005 pp. xii + 208. $42.00

Series Information
Afterlives of the Bible


Description: In this volume, biblical scholars Timothy K. Beal and Tod Linafelt—along with an esteemed group of contributors—offer a provocative range of views on The Passion of the Christ. Their book is organized in three parts. The first analyzes the film in terms of its religious foundations, including the Gospels and nonbiblical religious texts: What are the film's literary sources and how does it use them? In what ways does the medium of film require a radically different way of representing gospel narrative? The second group of essays focuses on the ethical and theological implications of the film's presentation of the Christian gospel: What do we make of its representations of female sexuality? What are the implications of focusing on the Passion in terms of atonement rather than social justice? Finally, the third section explores the film as a pop cultural phenomenon: How has the film worked to create a sense of insider status for some and alienated so many others? What can we learn about the religious dimensions of contemporary mass culture from the film's reception? Whether one is inspired or appalled by The Passion of the Christ, there can be no question that it is a defining moment in the cultural afterlife of the Bible. This volume tries to make sense of that moment and will prove to be a touchstone for adherents and detractors of the film alike.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Synoptic Gospels, Johannine Literature, John, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Other Methods, History of Interpretation

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Review by William Telford
Published 7/5/2008
Citation: William Telford, review of Timothy K. Beal and Tod Linafelt, eds., Mel Gibson's Bible: Religion, Popular Culture, and The Passion of the Christ, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2008).


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