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The conspicuous consumption of the DVD edition of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and the theatrical release of a recut version less than a month ago testify to the continuing interest in a film that generated a firestorm of both enthusiasm and criticism when it was released just over a year ago. This same interest was very much in evidence this past November in San Antonio at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, where scholars were offered the opportunity to discuss the film as part of ongoing conversations regarding the Gospels and the Bible's representation in ancient and modern media. Alongside these discussions, those in attendance in San Antonio were afforded an opportunity to eavesdrop on another conversation—this one involving three scholars with a particular interest in Bible and Film and the co-writer (Benedict Fitzgerald) and consultant (Dr. William Fulco) who were part of the Gibson project.

The scholars involved—David Shepherd (Briercrest), Alice Bach (Case Western Reserve) and Clayton Jefford (St. Meinrad's)—focused their questions on how Fulco and Fitzgerald helped to realize the movement from Scripture to screenplay. Along the way, they touched on a variety of issues, including the genre of the film, the screenplay's relationship to the Gospels and also to A. C. Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the portrayal of Jewish opposition to Jesus and Jewish involvement in his condemnation, and the decision to write dialogue in the "original languages."

The conversation in San Antonio was one of biblical scholarship's many contributions to the film's evaluation, one part of a process that not only crosses academic and disciplinary boundaries, but also transcends them altogether as it inevitably takes place in the popular media and amongst the viewing public. As such, I am pleased this month to offer you, through The SBL Forum, the opportunity to listen to From Gospel to Gibson: An Interview with the Writers. (MP3 file size:69,382KB)

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David Shepherd, Briercrest Seminary; Caronport, Saskatchewan;

Citation: David Shepherd, " From Gospel to Gibson: An Interview with the Writers," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited May 2005]. Online:


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