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Question 233

Was the scourging of Christ as brutal as that depicted in Mel Gibson's film " the passion of the Christ"?


Answer to Question 233


According to the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah prophesied on the suffering of Christ saying: “...he has no form nor glory; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty.” (53:2) “He has no form nor glory” refers to his unsightly appearance during the Passions. He face was distorted with pain, especially during the flagellation (flogging), which caused the Jews to disbelief that he was the Messiah, for them God would not have allowed that to happen to the Messiah.  “But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness for his face is turned from us: he was dishonored and not esteemed.” (53:3)  This has the same meaning as the previous verse. Isaiah wants to stress Christ’s humility through his suffering and his wounds, a man acquainted with extreme pain and torture and because of this he was not esteemed – he was considered a nobody.  Isaiah’s prophecy describes that Christ suffered greatly and we have the same message from the Gospels, especially the fact that, as a man, he was totally exhausted from the beatings that he had no more strength in him to carry his cross.


But Mel Gibson's film “The passion of Christ” is but another film. No film can come near to the reality. It is possible that it depicts Christ’s suffering, but then again it could be that the violence against him was even greater. Unless Mel Gibson was present at the sufferings then however he directed the film is only his interpretation of the events. Don’t let films influence your minds about events in the Bible. Most directors of such films have no idea about the spiritual interpretations of the Bible; their main concern is not the truth, but that the film is successful at the box office. When the series Jesus of Nazareth was first aired on TV many years ago, people thought it was an exact interpretation of the New Testament. It may have been close to western interpretations, but for Orthodoxy it was very far from the truth and even blasphemous.