Like film, the bible: an adjunct to 10Films

December 15, 2010

Like my habitual relationship to film (or written fiction), I find the bible most interesting for its structure. For better or worse (my own loss perhaps) the plot seems much less interesting.

This interest has the gospels at its heart. The life of Jesus is told four times in four differing versions. (We should also add the lost and heretical gospels which were excluded from the canon, plus the narratives related by film makers such as George Stevens, Terry Jones, Martin Scorsese and Mel Gibson, plus one more: scholar Bart Erhman argues our habit of conflating the differing gospels into one single narrative creates yet another gospel. In this last gospel, Jesus says and did all things recorded in each of the gospels, and ignoring any contradictions).

This gospel-structure swirls with wonderfully post-modern questions. Deconstructed, what is the meaning of the common phrase “the gospel-truth”. Is one of the gospels correct, a true version of the story? Does the truth lie somewhere between the various versions?  (If this is the case, can we trust ourselves to distinguish between understanding and our habitual conflations?). Can a particular string of chronologically narrated facts be truthful? (Indeed, did any of the authors even wish to be read in such a way?). Are our minds capable of reading a text in this way? Is it possible capture such a method in words? (Listen for the word of god – rather than the more common listen to the word of god – is the best I know).

Finally, my favourite:

Who can/could point to Jesus?

Was he a man, contained in flesh?, or is he some sum total of how others saw – or believed, remembered and said about – him?



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