From Publishers Weekly
This collection of essays begins well, with three lucid and sobering chapters on the state of Christian-Jewish relations in the wake of The Passion of the Christ
. But as the book wears on it demonstrates most of the pitfalls of academic punditry, from foggy jargon to half-baked scholarship. An essay on Gibson's artistic precursors grandly if vaguely promises, "The answer to the question 'Why Caravaggio?' will have multivalent and multiple references from aesthetics, culture, gender, and theology," just before ending three paragraphs later. What could have been a fascinating statistical survey of viewers' responses to the filmis rendered insignificant by the fact that it was administered online to what the authors admit was a nonrandom "convenience sample. "A prominent Catholic critic of the film gives a tendentious survey of her conservative opponents in the media while barely acknowledging, let alone weighing, the impact of moderate and critical responses. And a few writers make unsupported claims that verge on the ridiculous. Evangelical reviewers may possibly warn Christian parents that violent films "can drive their children to crime"—but the author who makes that claim only quotes reviews suggesting that movie violence may lead to a general increase in crime, a far less surprising or specific finding. The light this book sheds on The Passion
is scattered at best.
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About the Author
S. Brent Plate is an assistant professor in the department of religion at Texas Christian University. He is the author/editor of several books including Religion, Art, and Visual Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002) and is the managing editor of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief.