March 1, 2004
Dr. Andrea Berlin and Dr. Jodi Magness have both seen The Passion of the Christ, and have authored a commentary on the film from an archaeological perspective.
Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ is hardly a historical documentary. As the director himself asserts, and reviewers, religious leaders, and audience members agree, the movie is designed to bring to vivid life the nature and magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice – an issue of theology rather than history. We are not theologians, but rather archaeologists specializing in the material remains and history of Roman Palestine. As such, we can not speak to the movie’s moral message, or even to the aesthetic or cinematic vision of the director. Some viewers may wonder, however, about the historical accuracy with which events and their settings are depicted. For those who are curious about Gibson’s fidelity to ancient sources, we offer the following information.