"Christ-killer"--the long shadow of a blood libel.
--Robert Wistrich (1999)
In the wake of Vatican II, people of decency everywhere began to hope for an end to the surreal era when Jewish children in school or at play were targeted with the incredible taunt of" Christ-killer." These hopes have been diminished by Mel Gibson's soon-to-be released The Passion of Jesus the Christ, using graphic violence to portray Jews of Jesus's day as responsible for the crucifixion. (1)
From the traditional Christian perspective, the story of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection is about the triumph of love. Unfortunately, that's only part of the story. A generation of efforts to promote interreligious understanding has so far failed to defuse the power, manifested over the course of many hundreds of years, of dramatizations of the Passion to incite and-Jewish hatred and violence. (2)
Jules Isaac, a French historian whose family died in the Holocaust, advised Augustin Cardinal Bea of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the years leading up to the Second Vatican Council's adoption of Nostra Aetate (1965) declaring that, henceforth, "the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if that followed from Holy Scriptures." (3) In his 1964 book, The Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism, Isaac had argued that the deicide accusation--demonizing all Jews for all time as guilty of killing Jesus- was the lethal core of antisemitic ideology and the continuous thread running through two millennia of vilification, persecutions, forced conversions, ghettoization, expulsions, and pogroms. (4)
As the 21st century begins, there are troubling signs that the deicide accusation and blood libel stubbornly persist in popular culture and political discourse, and have even made new global inroads. In the 1960s, at the height of Christian and Jewish cooperation in the moral crusade for civil rights, the sociologists Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark "were entirely unprepared to find the religious roots of antisemitism so widespread in modern society." (5) Not much had changed by 2002 when a Gallup poll concluded that "the Christ-killer charge remains pervasive" on the basis of finding that 37 percent of American young adults still hold Jews responsible for Jesus's death. (6)
In Europe and the Middle East, a British cartoonist wins an award for picturing Israeli Prime Minister Sharon devouring a crucified Palestinian infant, while images of Jews (and sometimes the U.S. government) crucifying Palestinians (and Iraqis) have become media commonplaces throughout the Muslim world. (7) A website of the government of Qatar complains that Jews have "gotten the Vatican to drop the Catholic belief that the Jews were the Christ's killers!" Under pressure from Arab Christians, the Anglican Church is increasingly influenced by "replacement theology" claiming that Jews have been superseded in God's favor because of the mistreatment of Palestinians, while fashionable "liberation theologians" are breathing "new life into old defamations" of Judaism and Jews. In Montpelier, a French priest distributes at a Christmas midnight mass a hymn reading: "He was born in Bethlehem, Palestine. He was born in Bethlehem, poor and innocent. Sharon shot him down." A Palestinian website announces: "Jews Used Romans To Kill Jesus=Jews Use The US To Kill Arafat!" (8)
Looking to the future, it may be a cliche, but still has the ring of truth, that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. This is true of the history of the libel that Jews are "a deicide people."
The Gospels--"Let His Blood Be On Us"
Utilized to make a public statement, the terrible fate of crucifixion was a Roman punishment for political criminals, employed in both individual and mass executions. In 4 BCE, the probable year of Jesus's birth, the Roman governor of Syria, Quintilus Varus, ordered 2,000 Jewish protesters against foreign nile crucified. In 66 CE, the Roman governor of Judea, Gessius Florus, outdid him by crucifying 3,600 Jews--men, women, and children of all social ranks--as enemies of Rome. Then during the final siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the victorious Roman general (and later emperor) Titus ordered the crucifixion of up to 500 Jewish prisoners a day on the city's walls. About halfway between the era of mass executions when Jesus was born and the era of mass executions a generation after he died, Procurator Pontius Pilate ordered the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth under a wooden sign reading "King of the Jews." (9)
The accounts of the four Gospels conflict about whether Jesus was tried before the Sanhedrin and, if so, what the charges and verdict may have been. Yet we do know that if the Sanhedrin did indeed try Jesus for a capital crime, the various proceedings described in the Gospels violated virtually all the jurisprudential rules--e.g., no trials to be held at night or on the eve or day of a festival like Passover, unanimous agreement by witnesses, protection against self-incrimination, no charge of blasphemy except for pronouncing the divine name, stoning rather crucifixion as a punishment in the event of a conviction-later codified in Jewish law. (10)
If the Sanhedrin tried and found Jesus guilty, why didn't it execute him? The Gospel of John's answer is that, under the Romans, the Jewish courts were denied capital jurisdiction. (Jn. 18:31) Historians still hotly debate this issue. However, the strong probability is that, if a Jewish court had sentenced Jesus to death, the punishment would have been execution by stoning--not crucifixion. (11)
Most likely, the High Priest Caiaphas feared that Jesus, who entered the city in a triumphal procession (Jn. 12:1, 12-16) and caused some sort of disturbance at the Temple (Jn. 2:12-25), would ignite rioting during the volatile Passover holiday that would bring down Rome's wrath on Jerusalem. Jesus was turned over to the Roman Governor who reached his own judgment that this alleged would-be messiah should be publicly executed, but was not so dangerous to make it necessary to round up and kill his followers, which is what the Romans subsequently did in suppressing the popular protest movements led by Theudas and the Jewish rabble-rouser known as "the Egyptian." (12)
Caiaphas was a Roman appointee whose vestments were even kept in the custody of Pontius Pilate. (13) In the Gospels, some Pharisees are shown disagreeing with Jesus (Jn. 9:13-34), while others warn him of impending dangers (Luke 13:31), but none figure prominently in the Passion narratives. The crowd pictured as shouting, "Crucify him! ... Let his blood be on us and our children" (Math 27:23-25), is counterbalanced by crowds hailing him as messiah (Mark 11:18; Matt. 21:1-11) and mourning his execution. (Luke 23:28) Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, pious, prominent Jews, saw to Jesus's burial. (Matt. 27:57-60; Jn. 19:39-42) (14)
Most readers of the Gospels come away with an impression of Pontius Pilate as a well-meaning but weak ruler who declares Jesus innocent but--succumbing to pressure from the Temple authorities and the Jerusalem crowd--orders his execution. Pilate's washing of his hands to disclaim responsibility for Jesus's death is a Jewish, not a Roman, gesture, making Pilate almost look like a pious Chasid. According to Paul Winter, "the stem Pilate grows more mellow from Gospel to Gospel." Ultimately, Pilate was canonized as a saint by the Ethiopian Christian Church! (15)
In contrast, the philosopher Philo described Pilate's character and conduct in terms of "corruption, violence, depredations, ill treatment, offenses, numerous illegal executions, and incessant, unbearable cruelty." A careful reading of the Gospels brings Pilate's image more in line with the negative picture in other sources. For example, the Gospel of Luke suggests Pilate's rash and violent nature in describing how he sent his troops to mow down some Galileans "whose blood mingled with their sacrifices." (Luke 13:1) (16)
Probably committed to writing 40 to 70 years after the crucifixion, the Gospels not only tended to exculpate and appease the Roman persecutors of nascent Christianity of guilt for Jesus's death, but to inculpate and vilify the Jews whose synagogues frustrated Christian hopes for mass Jewish conversion. The result was the demonization of Jews as being of "your father, the devil" (Jn. 8:44) and the attribution to them of the self-curse: "Let his blood be upon us and our children." (Matt. 27:25) Gibson circulated two "rough cuts of his film, one of which included this verse, spoken by the High Priest Caiaphas rather than an anti-Jesus crowd. (17)
Jesus's crucifixion was an incident in the century-long campaign--Jack Miles, author of Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (2001), calls it "the Roman Shoah"--to terrorize Jewish Palestine into submission to Imperial Rome. is The Gospel writers as well as the Apostle Paul almost certainly did not foresee or fully intend the consequences, yet they minimized Roman guilt and created a myth of perpetual Jewish blood guilt for the crucifixion that echoed down the centuries. (19)
The Church Fathers and Anti-Judaism
The term "deicide" (theoktonian in Greek) was coined by St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century. (20) Two hundred years earlier, it had already produced its poet laureate, St. Melito of Sardis, whose Homilies on the Passion, Peri Pasha, read:
He who hung the earth is hanging; he who fixed the heaven has been fixed; he who fastened the universe has been fastened to a tree; the Sovereign has been insulted; the God has been murdered; the King of Israel has been put to death by an Israelite right hand. (21)
Personal rapport with individual Jews was no match for theological contempt in the minds of the Church Fathers. St. Jerome (third century) is said to have studied Hebrew under a prominent rabbi, yet declared: "If it is requisite to despise individuals, and the nation, so do I abhor the Jews with an inexpressible hate." (22)
The crescendo of patristic anti-Judaism came in the fourth century. The Roman Empire converted to Christianity under Constantine, who called the Council of Nicea (convened in 325) that for the first time formally affirmed the divinity of Jesus. Their alleged responsibility for killing Christ made Jews, as Rosemary Ruether put it, "guilty of cosmic regicide" against God and the Emperor, "the vicar of Christ" on earth. (23)
St. Isadore cited Jeremiah 13:23--"Can the Ethiopian change his color or the leopard his spots?"--not to disparage Africans, but to argue that the evil nature of the Jew cannot be changed. St. John Chrysostom (canonized in 1909; his name translates from the Greek as "St. John the Golden-Mouthed") wrote of the Jews that, because of their "odious assassination of Christ ... no expiation possible, no indulgence, no pardon, and for which they will always be a people without a nation, enduring a servitude without end.... God hates them, and so also should good Christians." (24)
According to St. Augustine, the Jews were filled with bitterness and gall like that they gave Jesus on the cross. He agreed that their guilt was an inherited trait because of "Christ, whom you, in your ancestors, led to death." (25)
The Hebrew Bible and pre-Christian Jewish history were appropriated by the Church Fathers on the grounds that the Jews had forfeited God's election of Israel by killing their own prophets. The Fathers incorporated libels against Jews as debauched, depraved, and violent haters of mankind from pagan philosophers such as Apion who told a tale about the Jewish priests annually kidnapping (and fattening up) a gentile to make a human sacrifice in the Temple. (26) Here is part of Chrysostom's defense of the burning down of synagogues:
You did slay Christ, you did lift violent hands against the Master, you did spill his precious blood.... In the old days your reckless deeds were aimed against his servants, against Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.... But now you have put all the sins of your fathers into the shade.... The Jews sacrifice their children to Satan.... they are worse than wild beasts. The synagogue is a brothel, a den of scoundrels, the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults, a criminal assembly of Jews, a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, a gulf and abyss of perdition.... I hate the Jews because they violate the Law..... It is the duty of all Christians to hate the Jews. (27)
The "Adversus Judeos" tradition of hateful anti-Jewish polemics was qualified by Augustine's "witness theory." "Like Cain," the Jews also "bore a sign." They should not be killed because they had a role to play as a testimony to Christian prophetic truth: "Let them live among us, but let them suffer and be continually humiliated." (28)
Crusades, Crosses, and Passion Plays
Theologically, there was more continuity than change in Christian attitudes toward Jews between late classical and medieval times. Pope Innocent III issued a declaration in the thirteenth century that could have been written by St. Augustine 900 years before. Yet from the eleventh on, Europe was being transformed and energized. "[T]o kill Christ-killers," as one historian put it, "became an act of faith. The Crusaders, cross in one hand and sword in the other, excelled at this kind of worship." (29) Affixing crosses to their outer garments, Crusaders in 1096 and 1146 started with the internal enemy or infidel by terrorizing Jewish communities in France and Germany before they ever reached the Muslim East. There, during the First Crusade, they burned down Jerusalem's leading synagogue in which many of the city's Jewish inhabitants had sought refuge. Crusader chief Godfrey de Bouillon promised "to leave no single member of the Jewish race alive." To the Jews of Europe and the Middle East, the Crusaders were "misguided wanderers," armed with swords that were inverted crosses meting out death. (30)
At home, Christian Europe evolved a new religious sensibility. Previously, both written and visual representations of Jesus were in the tradition of "Chrisms Victor" picturing him as a calm, commanding figure who could almost be said to have orchestrated his own crucifixion. The innovative, emotional preaching of the Dominican and Franciscan friars dramatized harrowing details of the crucifixion to popularize a different, more human Christ who suffered greatly on the cross. (31)
The "cult of the cross" became part of a new, meditative spirituality. Looking inward, mystics focused on human sinfulness--not the Jews--as the cause of the crucifixion. (32) But the illiterate masses were affected less by this interiorized spirituality than by the new emotional preaching style of the mendicant orders that went hand-in-hand with anti-Jewish invective. According to one twelfth-century friar, the Jews "curse Christ continually, at least three times each day, at which three times they malign and blaspheme him; they also curse the Virgin Mary every day." (33)
The emotionality of the medieval cult of the cross was coterminous with an unprecedented emphasis on the blood of Christ. Medieval art pictured Jesus as bleeding profusely, while popular belief was that the angels during the crucifixion hovered around the cross to collect Jesus's sacrificial blood as it trickled down. Unfortunately, a nexus developed between the blood cult and ritual murder and host desecration accusations against Jews that spread across Europe beginning in the 12th century. (34)
The ritual murder accusation remained a fruity until 1144, when in England the body of twelve-year-old William of Norwich was found on Easter Saturday. A few years later, a Jewish convert named Theobold offered the information that "the Jews of Norwich bought a Christian child before Easter and tortured him with all the tortures our Lord was tortured, and on Long Friday hanged him on a rood in hatred of our Lord." Theobold also claimed that a sort of international rabbinic conclave gathered in Spain each year to pick a ritual victim to use in revenging themselves on Jesus whose death had made Jews slaves in exile. Ritual crucifixion of a Christian, according to Theobold, was also expected to hasten the coming of the Jewish messiah. From these wild charges, originated both the paradigm of the worldwide Jewish conspiracy and also the archetype of Jewish ritual murder as a re-enactment of Jesus's death. (35)
Christian mobs typically retaliated for alleged ritual murders with anti-Jewish pogroms, usually on Good Friday. Jews convicted of ritual murder were sometimes hanged upside down between two dogs in a cruel parody of the crucifixion. (36)
The increasing incidence of child abuse and abandonment during a period of social change fueled the rising incidence of ritual murder accusations. In 1492, Jews were executed for crucifying an infant in LaGuardia, Spain, just four months before Columbus's first voyage marked a new age. The charges and trial, masterminded by the Inquisitor Torquemada, reportedly helped convince Queen Isabella to sign the order expelling Jews from Spain. Yet even without Jews, Spain remained the center of Catholic theological Judeophobia. (37)
In Shakespeare's England, roughly a century later, Jews had been banned from the country for 300 years, yet belief that Jews abducted, circumcised, and cannibalized young victims remained as vivid as ever. (38)
The blood libel accusation was kept alive all over Europe by the medieval and early modern Passion Play. Ordinary people who could not read the Church Fathers were transfixed by dramas. As was the case later in Oberammergau in Bavaria, where the villagers put on a seven-hour marathon production every ten years, these plays were truly community affairs. In one popular play, Anima Christi, sinners are saved by the precious "Blood of Christ." There was a ban on the portrayal of sadistic violence in other dramatizations, but in passion plays, torture and even rape were often part of the plot. The characterization of Jews could not be more inflammatory. In the Alsfelder Passionspiel, Caiaphas orders Jesus to: "Take off your clothes.... Lie down on the cross; and stretch out your feet and arms." An executioner then orders three heavy nails, a hammer, and tongs. While Jesus is impaled, the Jews rejoice and mock him. (39)
If crude medieval productions could affect popular imagination to the extent of igniting pogroms and expulsions of Jews, we in the postmodern, post-Holocaust era ought to be even more concerned about the prejudicial, potentially violent impact of state-of-the-art Hollywood productions dramatizing the same, age-old pernicious themes of anti-Jewish hatred.
From Medieval to Modern
The gradual transition to modernity did nothing to shake the hold of the medieval "Christ-killer" image in the Christian world. The Renaissance and Reformation opened up deep fault lines in Europe, yet anti-Judaism and antisemitism cut across the Catholic-Protestant divide. It was during this period that such terms as Peuple deicide, Gottesmord, and "Christ killer" rooted themselves in European national cultures. (40)
Martin Luther initially expressed hopes for Jewish conversion in a pamphlet, That Christ Was Born a Jew, yet became bitterly disappointed, and in, The Jews and Their Lies, urged the burning of synagogues. (41) In England and America a few centuries later, even the Quaker William Penn shared "Christ-killer" stereotypes. (42)
In the young United States, the "Christ-killer" dogma was taught in Sunday-School primers such as Elizabeth Peabody's Sabbath Lessons (1813) reviling "the conspiracy of Jewish rulers against Jesus Christ," while a manual for Sunday-School teachers admonished them to "remark on the willfulness and fickleness of the Jews." Later, liberal Protestant ministers purveyed similar notions in more sophisticated fashion. Only agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll viewed the deicide accusation as a major cause of antisemitism. (43)
As late as the 1950s, American Catholic high-school textbooks offered dais gloss on Jesus's scourging by the Romans: "Since Pilate could not find wrong with Christ, he decided to disfigure his beautiful body so that even the bloodthirsty Jews would back down and say that Christ had enough." (44)
As Europeans colonized the new world, they brought with them the "Christ-killer" libel, even imparting it to African Americans. Slave masters catechized their slaves like this:
Q. The Wicked Jews grew angry with our Savior and what did they do to him.
A. They crucified him. (45)
Slaves sang spirituals with such verses as:
Virgin Mary had one son. The cruel Jews had him hung. (46)
Regarding growing up in the South around World War I, the novelist Richard Wright recollected:
All of us black people who lived in the neighborhood hated Jews, not because they exploited us, but because we had been taught at home and in Sunday school that Jews were "Christ-killers." (47)
As recently as the 1990s, during a period of intense Black-Jewish tensions, New York's leading African-American newspaper ran a front-page story featuring accusations that the Chasidic community tried to lure a black transient into a synagogue basement in order to kill him, ritual-murder fashion. (48)
As Abraham G. Duker showed, ritual-murder scares were pervasive across the United States during the first third of the 20th century. Duker's interest dated from his second day as a Jewish immigrant to the United States in 1922 when he was cautioned about a recent ritual-murder accusation in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. (49)
Pittsfield had seen a Polish immigrant community accusing Jewish immigrants of planning a ritual murder. Both accusers and accused, not coincidentally, hailed from Eastern Europe where ritual-murder accusations, rife in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, culminated in 1911 in the Beilis affair in Kiev, Russia. Czar Alexander HI had set the tone for the official response by the authorities to this wave of hysteria by declaring in 1882: "We must never forget that the Jews crucified Christ and shed his precious blood." (50)
Thus in both Europe and the United States, the medieval and early modern accusations of deicide survived into the formative years of the 20th century. The incorporation of age-old hatreds into modernity coincided with the introduction of the new mass medium of motion pictures. After World War I, D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille offered Hollywood versions of the New Testament redolent with "Christ-killer" stereotypes. Though toned down somewhat in response to Jewish protests, DeMille's 1927 Biblical epic, The King of Kings, did fuel antisemitism. Multiply to the nth factor, this note, passed between two fourth-grade girls, that found its way into the files of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise: "Martha, I found out who killed our God. The Jews did it. I went to see King of Kings. It showed how the Jews killed him." (51)
The Nazis Embrace the Deicide Accusation
Hider privately called Christianity the product of "sick brains," but his animus was directed against "Rabbi Paul," and he purged from the movement Nazis impolitic enough to call Jesus "a Jewish coward." His objective was a "Germanic Christianity"--not Aryan atheism. (52)
Whatever Hider's true religious convictions, the Nazi regime used the deicide accusation to great political effect, disarming potential opponents until it was too late for them to protest effectively. An impressive representation of the Nazi elite attended the 300th anniversary of the Oberammergau Passion Play in 1934. "It is vital that the Passion Play be continued at Oberammergau," the Fuhrer declared during the war, "for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed." (33)
Steven T. Katz has quite rightly point out that: "The Jews survived 1,600 years of Christianity. They almost didn't survive four years of World War II. Something different must have happened." Yet except for the tiny Jehovah's Witnesses, the German churches acquiesced in what did happen during World War II. (54)
In 1938--the year "The White Christ" painted by Marc Chagall showed a crucified Jesus wearing a tallit hovering over a destroyed shtetl--Nazi-orchestrated mobs burned hundreds of Torah scrolls during Kristallnacht, while German churches invited in Nazis to decorate their Sunday services with swastikas. (55)
In Slovakia, a representative of the Catholic Church refused to intervene on behalf of Jewish children slated for deportation because: "There is no innocent blood of Jewish children in the world. All Jewish blood is guilty. You have to die. This is the punishment that has been awaiting you because of that sin [of deicide] ." A few years later at the Dachau death camp, Jewish inmates were subjected to Aufbinden (crucifixion) by Nazis interested in replicating how Jesus died. Often, the last thing Jews heard on the way to the gas chambers was the taunt: "Christ-Killer!" (56)
During World War II, Himmler proposed "pure antisemitic clandestine broadcasts" to Britain and the U.S., reporting that "in locale X a child is missing and is probably another case of Jewish ritual murder." Only the end of the war prevented the carrying out of an order by Hider to make a film dramatizing the 1840 Damascus ritual murder libel that played an important part in aggravating Arab antisemitism. (57)
Then, in the dock in 1945 as a war criminal, was the notorious Nazi Jew-baiter, Julius Streicher. Streicher, in his defense of the Shoah in front of the Nuremberg Tribunal, invoked, in addition to Martin Luther, the Gospel of John--"your father is the devil." In 1958, in Ulm, Germany, a Protestant pastor who had been attached to an SS Einsatzkommando unit defended his wartime crimes by referring his judges to the Gospel of Matthew (27:25): "[L]et his blood be on us and our children." Were Nazis like Adolf Eichmann, who washed their hands of responsibility for the Holocaust, invoking a tradition as old as Pontius Pilate? Indeed, a Catholic newspaper in Italy at the time of the Eichmann trial condemned the Israelis for trying him because the Jews "must be considered as deicides even today." (58)
The Holocaust ended with World War II, but not the murder of Jews for allegations of ritual murder. In 1946, on the basis of a false accusation that a Polish boy had been killed for his blood, 70 Jews were murdered in the town of Kielce. (59)
An Old Libel enters a New Century
After World War II and the Holocaust, the movie studios continued to make Biblical epics, including big pictures about the origins of Christianity, such as Samuel Brouston's King of Kings (1961) and George Stevens's The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Yet whatever their artistic merits, these films took real pains not to portray the Romans as innocent dupes and Jesus's fellow Jews as murderers primarily and collectively responsible for his death. (60)
Not so Mel Gibson, who disdained any critical feedback or input from interfaith scholars and community leaders concerned about reports that the script and rough cut of his film violate all the advisory guidelines for avoiding inciting antisemitism. (61)
Gibson is an accomplished filmmaker, whose strong suit is "action" films in the violent tradition of Sam Peckinpah and Quentin Tarantino. His Academy Award-winning Braveheart combined magnificent battle sequences with a comic book-like depiction of "good guy" Scots versus "bad guy" English. (62) What sort of Passion can we expect from Mel Gibson? Unless he opens himself to criticism and self-criticism before it is too late, the probable result will be unprecedentedly graphic depictions of Jesus's physical punishment combined with black vs. white portrayals of "well meaning" Romans versus perfidious Jews. To increase the film's violence quotient, Gibson is using an extrascriptural source, the 19th-century nun, Ann Catharine Emmerich, whose mystical visions of the crucifixion border on "violent pornography." (63)
Gibson has a perfect right to make his film, his way. But he will also have to take responsibility for the ugly consequences that may flow from a 21st-century cinematic crucifixion that taps into two thousand years of "Christ-killer" passions undeservedly targeting Jesus's own people, the Jews.
(1.) Daniel Treiman, "Report on Mel Gibson Movie Splits Jewish, Catholic Groups," Forward (New York), July 4, 2003, p. 1; Paula Fredriksen, "The Gospel According to Mel," The New Republic (July 28, 2003) <http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=80VDpXe%2BtUVYgZguKgNQvB%3D%3D>; Eric J. Greenberg, "Gibson's Passion Termed Anti-Semitic," The Jewish Week, June 10, 2003, p. 1; Greenberg, "Jesus's Death Now Debated by Jews," The Los Angeles Jewish Journal. October 10, 2001, p. 1; Marsha Kranes, "Mel's 'Passion' Put to the Test: Five Diverse Viewers React to Post Preview," The New York Post, November 17, 2003, p. 22; Frank Rich, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold," The New York Times, September 21, 2003; Julia Duin, "Mel Looks Right for Movie on Jesus," The Washington Times, July 7, 2003; Peter J. Boyer, "The Jesus War: Mel Gibson and 'The Passion'," The New Yorker, September 15, 2003 < http://www.wcnet.org/~bgcc/gibson.htm>; Nacha Cattan, "Gibson Film Exposes Rift in Vatican Hierarchy," Forward (New York), December 26, 2003 <http://www.forward.com/issues/2003/03.12.26/newsl.html>.
(2.) Kelly Boggs, "First-Person: Mel Gibson's 'Passion'," BP (Baptist Press), Jan 17, 2003 <http://www.baptistpress.org/bpcolumn.asp?ID=859>; Antonio Gaspari, "The Cardinal and the Passion: Gibson's Controversial Movie Gets a Roman Endorsement," National Review On Line, September 18, 2003 <http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/commentgaspari091803.asp>; Carl Limbacher, "Billy Graham Praises Mel Gibson's 'Passion of Christ'," NewsMax.com, November 26, 2003 <http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2003/11/26/121628.shtml>; Peggy Noonan, "'It Is As It Was'," The Wall steer Journal, December 17, 2003 <http://online.wsj.com/columnists/pnoonan?id=110004442>.
(3.) Michael A. Hayes, "From Nostra Aetate to 'We Remember': A Reflection on the Shoah," in Christian-Jewish Relations through the Centuries, ed. by Stanley E. Porter and Brook W. R. Pearson (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), pp. 426-45; Church Documents: Nostra Aerate < http://www.newadvent.org/docs/ec21na.htm>.
(4.) Augustin Bea, The Way to Unity after the Council, trans, by Gerard Noel (London: G. Chapman, 1967); Jules Isaac, The Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism, trans, by Helen Weaver (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964), pp. 109-23.
(5.) Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark, Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 62 (quote); Glock and Stark, The Tenacity of Prejudice: Anti-Semitism in Contemporary America (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), p. 110.
(6.) Jim Remsen, "Survey Gauges Anti-Semitism," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 17, 2003, p. A4.
(7.) "Independent Cartoonist Wins Award," Independent (London), November 27, 2003, p. 2; Melanie Phillips, "Christians Who Hate Jews," The spectator (London), February 15, 2002 <http://pws.prserv.net/mpjr/mp/sp160202.htm>; Karl Ericson, "Follow-up to Creating Paranoia" http://www.primechoice.com/philosophy/shelp/muscreateparanoia.htm.
(8.) Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI), "The Arab Answer to Schindler's List'," Special Dispatch No. 190 (March 1, 2001) <http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP19001>; Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman, "The Fight Against Holocaust Denial," Midstream (April, 2001), pp. 2-4; Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer, Antisemitism: Myth and Hate from Antiquity to the Present (New York: Palgrave, 2002), p. 11; Jon D. Levenson, The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism: Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies (Louisville, Kentucky:John Knox Press, 1993), p. 41 (quote); Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), "Arafat's Official Media Revive Deicide Charge--Accuse Jews of Killing Jesus," press release, August 9, 2000; <http://www.zoa.org/pressrel/20000809b.htm>; "Jews Used Romans To Kill Jesus=Jews Use The US To Kill Ararat!"
(9.) Josephus, Antiquities, 17.295; Josephus, Jewish War, 5:447-51; John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus (New York: Harper Collins, 1991), p, 369; Richard A. Horsley with John S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements in the Times of Jesus (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1985, p. 31. Crucifixion was introduced into Judaea by the Persians, crucifixion was employed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes against the Maccabees, by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus against the Pharisees, and by Judge Simeon ben Shatach against 80 witches at Askelon. Despite or because of these instances, crucifixion went very much against the Jewish grain to the extent that it is uncertain that it was employed by Jewish courts during Roman times. See Martin Hengel, Crucifixion in the Ancient Word (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), pp. 22-23; Haim Hermann Cohn, "Crucifixion," Encyclopedia Judaica (1996), Vol. 5, pp. 1134-35; Flusser, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1988), pp. 575-609; E. P. Sanders, Judaism: Preface and Belief 63 BCE-66 CE (London: SCM Press, 1992), p. 382; Aryeh Kasher, Jews and Hellenistic Cities in Eretz-Israel (Tubingen, Germany: Mohr, 1990), pp. 318-41; Brown, Death of the Messiah, Vol. 2, p. 1400; Jacob Z. Lauterbach, Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1933-1935), Vol. 2, p. 247.
(10.) E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), p. 407; Richard A. Freund, "The Myth of Jesus in Rabbinic Literature," in The Seductiveness of Jewish Myth: Challenge or Response?, ed. by Daniel Breslauer (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), pp. 191-216; Raymond E. Brown, Death of the Messiah (New York: Doubleday, 1993), Vol. 1, pp. 358-359; Brown, "The Babylonian Talmud on the Execution of Jesus," New Testament Studies, Vol. 43 (1997), pp. 158-159; Paul Winter, On the Trial of Jesus (Berlin: Walter Gruyter, 1961), pp. 68-70; David R. Catchpole, "The Problem of the Historicity of the Sanhedrin Trial," in The Trial of Jesus, ed. by Ernest R. Bammel (London: SCM Press, 1970), pp. 5859. The divergence between the Gospel accounts of Jesus's trial(s) and Jewish legal procures later recorded in the Mishnah are beyond dispute, but whether Jewish courts actually followed these procedures during the earlier period is a contentious issue and open question.
(11.) Winter, On the Trial of Jesus, pp. 75-90; cf. David R. Catchpole, The Trials of Jesus: A Study in the Gospels and Jewish Historiography flora 1770 to the Present Day (Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1971), pp. 236-260. The Apostle Stephen and James, the brother of Jesus, were both stoned after controversial Jewish trials. See Acts 7:55-56; Josephus, Antiquities, 20:200-01; Catchpole, Trials of Jesus, pp. 241-254.
(12.) Josephus, Antiquities, 20:97-99, 169-71; Horsley with Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs, pp. 162-72.
(13.) Eugene J. Fisher, Faith Without Prejudice: Rebuilding Christian Attitudes Toward Judaism (Crossroad, NY: American Interfaith Council, 1993), pp. 75, 76.
(14.) Never mocking Jesus, the Jewish crowds are portrayed as more sympathetic to him in Luke than in Mark. See David Flusser with R. Steven Notley, Jesus (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1997), pp. 223-225.
(15.) Winter, On the Trial of Jesus, p. 60; Helen K. Bond, Pontius Pilate in History and Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 174-175.
(16.) Philo, Legatio ad Gaium, 302; Bond, Pontius Pilate, p. 36. Raymond E. Brown can say for him is that he was "not without very serious faults." See Brown, Death of the Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 701.
(17.) Samuel Sandmel, Anti-Semitism in the New Testament? (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978); David Rensberger, "Anti-Judaism in the Gospel of John," in Anti-Judaism and the Gospels, ed. by William R. Farmer (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press, 1999), p. 148; Adele Reinhartz, "The Gospel of John: How the 'Jews' Became Part of the Plot," in Jesus, Judaism, and Christian Anti-Judaism: Reading the New Testament After the Holocaust, ed. by Paula Fredriksen and Adele Reinhartz (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), pp. 99-116; Hans Kosmala, "His Blood Be on Us and Our Children," Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute (ASTI), Vol. 7 (1970), pp. 94-126; Scott McKnight, "A Loyal Critic: Matthew's Polemic with Judaism," in Anti-Semitism and Early Christianity: Issues of Polemic and Faith, ed. by Craig A. Evans and Donald A. Hagner (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), pp. 72-73. Though it won't be certain until the film is released, Gibson--motivated primarily by negative reaction from "focus groups"--has apparently decided to drop the notorious Jewish "self-curse" (Matt. 27:25). See Sharon Waxman, "Gibson to Delete a Scene in 'Passion,' The New York Time, February 4, 2004.
(18.) Louis H. Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interaction From Alexander to Justinian (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 382, 580; Yehoshafat Harkaby, The Bar Kochba Syndrome, trans, by Max D. Ticktin (New York: Rossel Books, 1983), pp. 45-53.
(19.) Jack Miles, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (New York: Vintage Books, 2001), pp. 109-118.
(20.) Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Anti-Semitism (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), p. 51; St. John Chrysostom, Homilies Against the Jews, 1, 7:6; Robert L. Wilken, John Chrysostum and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late Fourth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).
(21.) Stephen J. Wilson, "Melito and Israel," in Anti-Judaism in Early Christianity, Vol. 2: Separation and Polemic, ed. by Wilson (Ontario, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1986), pp. 91-93 (quote). See also Eric Werner, "Melito of Sardis: The First Poet of Deicide," Hebrew Union College Annual, Vol. 37 (1966), pp. 191210; Judith M. Lieu, Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1996), pp. 231, 281-282; Robert W. Wilken, "Melito, the Jewish Community at Sardis, and the Sacrifice of Isaac," Theological Studies, Vol. 37 (1976), pp. 53-69; K. W. Noakes, "Melito of Sardis and the Jews," Studies Patristica, Vol. 13 (1975), pp. 244-249.
(22.) Albert Gilbert, The Vatican Council and the Jews (Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1968), p. 14.
(23.) Jeremy Cohen, "The Jews as Killers of Christ in the Latin Tradition," Traditio, Vol. 39 (1983), pp. 1-27; Jacob Neusner, Judaism and Christianity in the Age of Constantine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 1-11: Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, p. 129 (quote).
(24.) Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews, p. 51; St. John Chrysostom, Homilies Against the Jews, 1, 7:6.
(25.) St. Augustine, Adversus Judeos, 7:10; Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, p. 130; Gilbert, Vatican Council and the Jews, p. 59.
(26.) Peter Schafer, Judeophobia: Attitudes Toward the Jews in the Ancient World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), pp. 62-63, 161; John Gager, The Origins of Anti-Semitism" Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 45-46; Marcel Simon, "Christian Anti-Semitism," in Essential Papers on Judaism and Christianity in Conflict from Late Antiquity to the Reformation, ed. by Jeremy Cohen (New York: New York University Press, 1991), pp. 138-139.
(27.) Chrysostom, Homilies Against the Jews, 1:7, 4:2, 5:6, 6:2, 6:4, 6:6-7; Flannery, Anguish of the Jews, pp. 47-48.
(28.) James Carroll, Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001), pp. 216-19, 365. Christian-Jewish relations during the first millennium of the Common Era could not have been worse, and were often better, than one might conclude from reading Church Fathers like Augustine. For example, Christian emperors, such as Honorius, Theodosius I, and Theodosius II, continued to recognize the status of Judaism under Roman law as a religio licita or "legal religion." See Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World, p. 102.
(29.) Pinchas E. Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1967), pp. 22-23 (quote); R. I. Moore, The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250 (Cambridge: B. Blackwen, 1987), pp. 84-85.
(30.) Simon R. Schwarzfuchs, "Crusades," Encyclopedia Judaica (1996), Vol. 5, pp. 1135-36; William Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate (New York: Jason Aronson, 1993), p. 229; Robert S. Wistrich, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (London: Thames Methuen, 1991), p. 24; Robert Chazan, In the Year 1096: The Jews and the First Crusade (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996)
(31.) Wolfgang S. Seiferth, Synagogue and Church in the Middle Ages: Two Symbols in Art and Literature (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1970), pp. 1-12; Heinz Schreckenberg, The Jews in Christian Art: An Illustrated History (New York : Continuum, 1996), pp. 155-89; Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism, p. 25; Gustav Aulen, Christus Victor, trans. by A. G. Herbert (New York: Macmillan, 1951).
(32.) Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism, p. 267; the Council of Trent, Article IV <http://www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tcreed04.htm>.
(33.) Jeremy Cohen, The Friars and the Jews: Evolution of Medieval Anti-Judaism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University press, 1982), pp. 238-239 (quote).
(34.) Ernest A. Rapaport, "The Ritual Murder Accusation: Persistence of Doubt and the Repetition Compulsion," in The Blood Libel: A Cosebook in Anti-Semitic Folklore, ed. by Alan Dundes (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), p. 319; Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Anti-Semitism: A History (New York: Sutton Publishing, 2002), p. 80.
(35.) Joshua Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews (Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1943), p. 130 (quote); Gavin Langmuir, Toward a Definition of Antisemitism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 209-236, 263-298; Langmuir, "Thomas of Monmouth: Detector of Ritual Murder," in Blood Libel Legend, pp. 13, 22-23.
(36.) Trachtenberg, Devil and the Jews, pp. 50, 228.; R. Po-chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder: Jews and Magic in Reformation Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), Figure 3.
(37.) Joseph Jacobs, "Little St. Hugh of Lincoln: Researches in History, Archeology, and Legend," in Blood Libel Legend, pp. 44-45; Sanford Shepard, "The Present State of the Ritual Crime in Spain," in Blood Libel Legend, pp. 166-171; Frank E. Manuel, The Broken Staff: Judaism through Christian Eyes (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), p. 223.
(38.) Cohn-Sherbok, Anti-Semitism, p. 84; James Shapiro, Shakespeare and the Jews (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), pp. 100-102.
(39.) Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism, p. 252; Cohn-Sherbok, Anti-Semitism, pp. 69-70; Rappaport, "The Ritual Murder Accusation," in Blood Libel, pp. 319, 322-23; Saul S. Friedman, The Oberammergau Passion Play: A Lance Against Civilization (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984).
(40.) Jacob Katz, From Prejudice to Destruction: Anti-Semitism, 1700-1933 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), p. 116.
(41.) Heiko A. Oberman, The Roots of Antisemitism in the Age of Renaissance and Reformation, trans, by James I. Porter (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 3841; Jeremy Cohen, "Traditional Prejudice and Religious Reform: The Theological and Historical Foundations of Luther's Anti-Judaism," in Anti-Semitism in Times of Crisis, ed. by Sander L. Gilman and Steven T. Katz (New York: New York University Press, 1991), pp. 81-102.
(42.) Egal Feldman, Dual Destinies: The Jewish Encounter with Protestant America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990), pp. 10; Michael N. Dobkowski, The Tarnished Image: The Basis of American Anti-Semitism (Westwood, CN: Greenwood Press, 1979), p. 13.
(43.) Ibid., 14; Feldman, Dual Destinies, pp. 143-144; George L. Berlin, Defending the Faith: Nineteenth-Century American Jewish Writings on Christianity and Jesus (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), pp. 50-51.
(44.) Gilbert, Vatican Council and the Jews, p. 4; James w. Arnold, "Religious Textbooks: Primers of Bigotry," Ave Maria, October 10, 1964; Judith H. Banki and Eugene J. Fisher, eds., A Prophet for Our Time: An Anthology of the Writings of Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), p. 36.
(45.) Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America, p. 198.
(46.) E. A. McIllhenny, Befo' De War Spirituals (Boston: Christopher Publishing House, 1938), p. 39.
(47.) Richard Wright, Black Boy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1945), p. 70.
(48.) Vinette K. Price, "Was Crown Heights Beating Victim 'Betrayed' by Hasidism?" The New York Amsterdam News, December 12, 1992, pp. 1, 8.
(49.) Abraham Duker, "Twentieth-Century Blood Libels in the United States," in Blood Libel, pp. 233-260; cf. Saul S. Friedlander, The Incident at Massena: The Blood Libel in the United States (New York: Stein and Day, 1978), pp. 61-63.
(30.) Cohn-Sherbok, Anti-Semitism, p. 222; Andrew Handler, Tiszaezlar (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980, pp. 173-187; David I. Kertzer, Three Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), pp. 135-136; Frand_ek_ervinka, "The Hilsner Affair," in Blood Libel, pp. 135-164; Charlotte Klein, "From Damascus to Kiev: Civilta Cattolica on Ritual Murder," in Blood Libel, pp. 180-196.
(51.) Richard Maltby, "The King of Kings and the Czar of All the Rushes: The Propriety of the Christ Story," Screen, Vol. 31 (1990), pp. 188-213; Felicia Herman, "'The Most Dangerous Anti-Semitic Photoplay in Filmdom': American Jews and The King of Kings," Velvet Light Trap, No. 46 (Fall, 2000), pp. 12-25; Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf trans, by Ralph Mannheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999 ), p. 307.
(52.) Norman H. Baynes, ed. The speeches of Adolf Hitler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1942), Vol. 1, pp. 19-20; John Weiss, Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996), pp. 138, 295.
(53.) Ibid., 3; Adolf Hitler, Secret Conversations, 1941-1944 (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Young, 1953), p. 457.
(54.) Liz McMillen, "The Uniqueness of the Holocaust," Chronicle of Higher Education, June 22, 1994 (quote); Weiss, Ideology of Death, p. 4; Richard J. C. Gutteridge, Open Thy Mouth For The Dumb!: The German Evangelical Church and the Jews, 1879-1950 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1976); John S. Conway, "The German Church Struggle and its Aftermath," in Jews and Christians after the Holocaust, ed. by Abraham J. Peck (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), pp. 30-52; Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel, eds., Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Minneapolis: Portress Press, 1999).
(55.) Weiss, Ideology of Death, p. 252.
(56.) Irving Greenberg in Auschwitz, Beginning of a New Era?: Reflections on the Holocaust, ed. by Eva Fleischner. Papers Given At The International Symposium On The Holocaust, Held At The Cathedral Of Saint John The Divine, New York City, June 3 to 6, 1974. New York: Ktav Publishing Company, 1977), pp. 441-442 note 7 (quote);
Pierre Barbet, A Doctor At Calvary (New York: P.J. Kennedy, 1953), pp. 76, 174; Elie Wiesel, Night (New York: Penguin Books, 1960), pp. 75-76; Frank Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), pp. 149-150; Ron Rosenbaum, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of HIS Evil (New York: Random House, 1998), p. 296.
(57.) Perry and Schweitzer, Antisemitism, p. 2; Jonathan Frankel, The Damascus Affair 'Ritual Murder; Politics, and the Jews in 1840 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 429.
(58.) Randall L. Bytwerk, Julius Streicher (New York : Stein and Day, 1983), pp. 65-71; Nicholls, Christian Antisemitism, p. 271; Alan Dundes, "The Ritual Murder or Blood Libel Legend," in Blood Libel, p. 349; Lapide, Three Popes, p. 26; Carter Lindberg, "Tainted Greatness: Luther's Attitudes toward Judaism and Their Historical Reception," in Tainted Greatness: Antisemitism and Cultural Heroes, ed. by Nancy A. Harrowitz (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), pp. 15, 20; Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (New York: AMS Press, 1971 ), Vol. 12; Reimund Bieringer et al., "Wrestling with Johannine Anti-Judaism: Framework for the Analysis of the Current Debate," in Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel, p. 14; Brown, Death of the Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 330; Meir Michaelis, "Italy," in The World Reacts to the Holocaust, ed. by David E. Berkovitz (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966), p. 533.
(59.) Richard L. Rubenstein, "The Convent at Auschwitz and the Imperative of Pluralism in the Global Electronic Village," in Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy, ed. by Carol Rittner and John K. Roth (New York: Praeger, 1991), p. 40.
(60.) W. Barnes Tatum, Jesus at the Movies: A Guide to the First Hundred Years (Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 1997), pp. 73-76.
(61.) Frank Rich, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold," The New York Times, September 21, 2003; Duin, "Mel Looks Right for Movie on Jesus," The Washington Times, July 7, 2003; Noxon, "Is the Pope Catholic ... Enough?," The New York Times Magazine, March 9, 2003; Munoz and Wilkinson, "Gibson Seeks a Few More Apostles," The Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2003, pp. E1, E4; Christopher Goodwin, "Films about Christ's Death are Always Controversial, But The Passion Has Caused an Almighty Row Months Before It's Due to Be Released," The Sunday Times (London), July 13, 2003, p. 8. Whether or not the ailing Pope, shown a cut of Gibson's movie missing Matthew 27:25 ("let his blood be on us and our children"), said a few words favorable to the film is in dispute. Asked whether the Holocaust occurred, which his father has questioned, Gibson said his father never lied to him, and elaborated: "I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century, 20 million people died in the Soviet Union." His reply did not satisfy critics. See Waxman, "Gibson to Delete a Scene in 'Passion,'" The New York Times, February 4, 2004.
(62.) Stephen, Prince, Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998); Kenneth Turan, "Blood, No Guts," The Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2003, p. El; Jessica Winter, "Mel Gibson's Jesus Christ Pose," The Village Voice, November 5-11, 2003 <http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0345/winter.php>.
(63.) Marvin Hier and Harold Brackman, "Mel's Passion," The Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2003, p. M1; Allen, Human Christ, pp. 203-07; Raymond A. Schroth, "The Gospel According to Mel," The National Catholic Reporter (November 28, 2003), <http://ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2003d/112803/112803r.php> (quote).
HAROLD BRACKMAN, Ph.D., is a consultant on intergroup relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.