The Passion of the Christ
by Ken Adams (e-mail: KAdams@liberator.net) [March 29th, 2004]
Over the past few weeks, a lot has been said about Mel Gibsonís new movie, The Passion of the Christ. Believers have flocked to the movie, claiming that it has re-inspired them, invigorating their faith through a vivid demonstration of the suffering of Jesus on our behalf.
Well, I for one am sick of it.
ďWhen you take these errors and omissions, and add on the mythological similarities to other ancient legends, you come to an inescapable conclusion: The majority of the Jesus myth is simply wishful thinking.Ē
Primarily, my objection to the pandering falls into three specific complaints. Here, for your general edification, are my objections:
- Whatís the big deal, anyway?
OK, Jesus was tortured for several hours. Undoubtedly, it was horrific, and I have no desire to duplicate his experience, but it was certainly not unique. Many other people have been tortured to death Ė starting with the two persons who were crucified by his side. Over the centuries, literally millions of people have been tortured, many of them worse than Jesus. So, Jesusí experience, although bad, was not supernaturally bad. Others have had worse.
Not only that, can we really say that Jesus died for our sins? The tragedy of death is really twofold Ė the experience of the moment of death, and the eternal oblivion that follows it. Jesus had the first part, but he didnít stay dead very long Ė only about a day and a half. He missed out on the eternity of oblivion. So, Jesus didnít die for our sins, he just had a really bad weekend for our sins.
- Heís really just a cartoon.
This paragraph is not a solicitation for incoherent fundamentalist hate mail, although I suspect that it will generate quite a bit of it. I actually have a legitimate concern about the literal existence of Jesus. Allow me to illustrate.
The Bible says he was baptized in 29 AD (at age 30) and died in the year 33 AD (at 33 Ĺ years of age). So, he must have been born in the year 1 BC. Right?
Yet, Matthew says that Jesus was born "In the days of Herod" (Matt 2:1). As well, Matthew tells us that Herod issued the command to kill all babies under the age of 2, so that he could be sure to exterminate the Messiah. (Matt 2:16) Herod died in 4 BC. Therefore, Jesus must have been born between 4 and 6 BC. Hmmm, thatís a bit of a problem.
Then, Luke says that Jesus was born "When Cyrenius was governor of Syria." (Luke 2:2) Cyrenius served as governor of Syria on two occasions. The first time coincided with Herodís reign, prior to 4 B.C., but there was no census at this time. The second time began in 7 A.D. There was a census during this period. Luke appears to have taken events from one period and transposed them into another period.
So, it appears that the Bible has no idea when Jesus was born. It gives us three different dates.
This is just one example of many inconsistencies in the story of Jesus. There are many others, ranging from the contradictory genealogies presented by Matthew and Luke, to the specifics events of his life.
In addition, many events recorded in the Bible (such as Herodís massacre of infant children) are not found in any secular records, even though the historians of the day were very anti-Herod and would have loved to ensconce something like this in the permanent record.
When you take these errors and omissions, and add on the mythological similarities to other ancient legends, you come to an inescapable conclusion: The majority of the Jesus myth is simply wishful thinking. The Bible account may be loosely based on an actual individual or composite of individuals, but the finished product is just a cartoon. Jesus is no more likely to return from the grave and redeem me of my sins than Spiderman.
- Whatís the point of the sacrifice?
If the story hasnít already broken down enough, this should finish it off: The thing doesnít make any sense.
As I understand it, original sin crept into the human gene pool through Adam and Eve. Apparently, a naked chick ate a piece of fruit at the insistence of a talking snake. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion would be for untold billions of people to be sentenced to death.
Does this make any sense? Letís keep going.
So, in order to make everything right, we have to kill a perfect man.
Now, by way of analogy, imagine that you are in court, charged with murder. The judge finds you guilty, and sentences you to life in prison. Or, if you prefer, you could just kill your son, and they would call it all even.
Thatís the story of the Bible.
Thank you for your patience in lasting this far. My point is that Mel Gibsonís movie may be an artistic triumph, but it doesnít help out the overall flaws found in the Bible. Itís not going to make believers out of anyone who isnít already inclined that way.
As for myself, I donít think Iíll even bother going to see it Ė I read the book.
Resources and Avenues for Further Study
The Passion of the Christ: Official Website The Liberator: The Passion of the Chris
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