How many films are there about Jesus?
Christ in the movie One topic and over 120 films
Every Jesus film can be formally divided into three main areas of content: Jesus' childhood, his public work, his passion and resurrection. Two key moments are decisive for the basic theological statement: Jesus' last words on the cross and how the film ends. From “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew and Mark) speaks a lonely and desperate Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, Jesus dies in full trust in his divine Father: "Father, I put my spirit in your hands." And for the apocalyptic John the mission of Jesus is completed with the words "It is finished."
Surprisingly, quite a few films end with the crucifixion of Jesus: "From the Manger to the Cross" (1912), "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Godspell" (both from 1973) as well as "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988). Christianity would not even exist without belief in the resurrection.
Quadruple sense of writing
A special feature that distinguishes Mel Gibson's film “The Passion of the Christ” most strikingly from all other Jesus films is the use of spoken language: the audience only hears Aramaic and Latin. It is arguably the first film that came into theaters everywhere with subtitles. Gibson had originally wanted to do without this, since the story is well known. For a non-Christian socialized audience that would have been a bit difficult to access.
The use of ancient languages also gives the film a mystical dimension. With this trick Gibson avoids problems that a version synchronized in a modern language would bring with it: The Gospels are primarily narratives, which of course also contain dialogues. But they are not dramas that are primarily characterized by spoken language. They represent a very special genre of text. Since the early Church, the Bible has been understood in a fourfold sense of the scriptures: The literal and historical sense - what happened? The Sense of Faith - What Should I Believe? The ethical sense - how should I act? And the eschatological sense - what should I strive for?
From Tunisia to New York
It becomes difficult when the Bible texts used in the film come from well-known translations. Pasolini's “The First Gospel of Matthew” (1966), for example, is taken verbatim from a translation of the Bible. And Pasolini makes Jesus say the formula "Woe to you, scribes and hypocritical Pharisees" over and over again. This rhetorical figure in the text acts as a spoken word in the film, but like a personal threat. The “ethical sense of writing” in this passage, the exposure of the Pharisaic double standards, is lost. Due to the alienation effect of the incomprehensible languages, however, Gibson's film escapes this danger.
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