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A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions About The Passion of The Christ Paperback – February 10, 2004
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Author of Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons? and Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards,
Co-editor of Amazing Grace for Those Who Suffer and Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart...
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Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.,
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Paul Thigpen, Ph.D.,
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Author of Making Senses Out of Scripture, This Is My Body, and others.
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In response to the question, "The devil asks Jesus a question... 'Do you really believe one man can bear the full burden of sin?' Did this actually happen?" they reply, "This questioning by the devil does not appear in the Bible, so here we have an example of the filmmaker taking some creative license... however, it is entirely plausible that such an exchange could have occurred." (Pg. 13) They reply to the question, "The devil unleashes a snake in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus crushes it under His foot. What is the symbolism here?" they respond, "Since this action is not mentioned in the Bible, it represents another instance of the director taking some artistic license for dramatic effect. However, the SYMBOLISM of Jesus' action IS rooted in the Scriptures." [Gen 3:15] (Pg. 17-18)
After the questions, "Peter's denials took place while he was warming himself by the fire... Why is the scene portrayed so differently in this movie?... Why does... Peter fall at Mary's feet and cry out, 'I have denied Him, Mother!'?" they state, "This is an example of the director's creative license being exercised to fully flesh out the emotion of the unfolding drama of Peter... The intent here is probably to portray Catholic teaching that it is acceptable to appeal to Jesus' mother when you have offended God." (Pg. 34)
In response to the question, "Why did the director make this scene so violent?" they suggests, "Historical records indicate that the practice of scourging was horrible and very bloody... Also, the evidence from the Shroud of Turin... shows that the back of the man on the shroud was severely bruised and bloodied." (Pg. 39-40) About the nails being driven into Jesus' hands rather than his wrists, they explain, "During a typical Roman crucifixion... the nails were placed into the wrists and not the hands. The decision of the director to show the nails going into Christ's hands is yet another example of artistic license, probably chosen for the same reason Jesus is depicted as carrying the 'whole' cross: the influence of Christian art... [Mel] Gibson's left hand is seen holding the nail that is driven into one of Jesus' hands." (Pg. 52)
They also note about the Venerable Maria de Agreda: "The film borrows picturesque details from her works and also from the meditations of Venerable Catherine Emmerich ] on Christ's Passion. The 'visions' of these two nuns sometimes have a symbolic meaning rather than a literal meaning." (Pg. 54-55)
This is an excellent, forthright, and very useful "companion" to the movie, that will answer many (if not all) of the questions one may have about it.
This slender book goes much further though, and gives insight into parts of the New Testament, how Christ's Passion relates to the Jewish Passover, and more.
Part 2, "The Case for Christ", compares Jesus to other religious figures, and gives answers to the question Jesus asked his followers, "Who do you say I am ?", and lays the case for the five possibilites: "a legend, a liar, a lunatic, a light and fluffy New Ager, and the Lord"; it's a terrific little chapter.
Part 3, "And the Story Continues", is how the apostles spread the Good News.
Part 4, "Quo Vadis ?" (Where are You Going ?), on what to do if you find yourself at a spiritual crossroads.
The back of the book has useful appendices, resources, and mini-bios of the five authors who contributed to this book, and they are: Tom Allen, Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Matthew Pinto, Mark Shea, and Paul Thigpen. If you found inspiration and value in Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", you will appreciate this book, which brings to light aspects one misses even after several viewings of the film.
Actually, based on what many in The Media have written, I'd say each "journalist" needs a copy as well --- they get so many of their ideas about it incorrect.