Luke told ear story

Most movie reviews have a twofold purpose (aside from providing some people with a job): to alert a reader to avoid the movie if the reviewer praises it and to encourage a reader to see it if the reviewer pans it. However, one does expect a reviewer to know the facts ["Excruciating: The Gospel According to Mel," February 26, 2004].

Warren may be correct in presuming embellishment regarding children attacking Judas and the thief getting his eyes plucked out, but Jesus restoring the man's ear after it gets chopped off by Peter is straight out of Luke 22:51. And none of the gospels identify the chopper-offer as Peter except John's. (And why was an apostle carrying a sword anyway? Another question for the ages.)

Readers may wish to recall similar brouhahas over Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ, both of which were embraced by the young, hip, break-with-tradition crowd and denounced by their opposite. Now it seems those positions have been reversed, presumably because this movie neither mocks tradition nor dwells on the sexuality of Jesus.

Since I haven't yet seen The Passion, I can't judge whether it's on an artistic par with the other two. But I do think, from perusing some of the verbiage being wasted on this film, that only three writers have had anything intelligent to say about it: Kenneth Woodward's op-ed in the New York Times (2/25/04) predicting that it is Christians who will be most shocked by it ("Do You Recognize This Jesus?"); Rabbi Daniel Lapin's 2/12/04 on-line piece in "Toward Tradition" contemplating the folly of Jews reeducating Christians about Christian theology ("Why Mel Owes The Jews"); and Gary Leupp's two-part (2/23/04 and 8/30/03) disquisition in Counterpunch arguing a whole caboodle of stuff rather well.

One of the nicer things about getting old is learning how to truly appreciate Whitmanesque contradictions instead of just thinking how rad it was during my youth. It don't care if a reviewer chooses to be flip, but please don't assume your readers are stupid.

Doris Safie