Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Passing on "The Passion"

I have no intention of seeing Mel Gibson's big-budget Aramaic snuff film, but some things can be noted even without seeing the movie. The debate among critics and pundits about whether Gibson "took liberties" with the Gospel is amusing. It shows how Americans still have few clues about the book that many of them revere above the law and common sense.

Just turning the New Testament into a narrative involves gross liberties taken. There are four versions of the story. Each one is different from the others. In some places one or two agree, but in key places they give four different versions of events. To pick one, the writer has to ignore the majority.

There are variant readings of all those gospels, some of them very ancient.

Gibson may use Latin or Aramaic in his dialogue, but the gospels were written in Greek, including most of the dialogue. To figure out what anyone said, you'd have to guess which word of Latin or Aramaic was translated into which word of Greek.