Mel Gibson has stated that one of his main inspirations for The Passion of the Christ came from the book The Dolorous Passion by Anne Catherine Emmerich. He has produced this film with an image of “Christ” that is based on the apparitions of the Catholic mystic who claimed to have seen visions of the passion, death and resurrection of “Christ” which were recorded in her book. The excerpts below are from Ms. Emmerich’s book of visions. These excerpts form the basis for each part of the movie described and are, in most cases, word-for-word from visions depicted in the book to movie script.
To catch up on this study, see previous posts from lessons on “The Passion”
In your reading, I ask that you pay particular attention to the passages in bold print. They designate that there is no mention in the Bible of what is recorded in the Ms. Emmerich’s book, but are clearly used in the movie.
In preparation for reading the following, it would be helpful to become re-acquainted with the following portions of Scripture since the Bible is always our plumbline of Truth: Matthew 26:36 – 27: 66; Mark 14: 1 – 15: 47; Luke 22 – 23 – 56; John 13: 1-30 and John 18 – 19: 42. These Scriptures all deal with Passion Week as the Bible describes it. They are the basis of comparison for the visions Ms. Emmerich details in her book and the additions made by scriptwriters for use in the movie.
As we begin this study, please be mindful of these two Scriptures that state the warnings given for the additions made to God’s Word:
2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
– Deuteronomy 4:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
– Revelation 22:18-19 New King James Version (NKJV) – A Warning
It should be with fear and trepidation that anyone would think to tamper with the Word of a Holy and Mighty God.
CHAPTER I: Jesus in the Garden of Olives
But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?”
(I saw) the horror of death and terror which he felt as man at the sight of the expiatory sufferings about to come upon him, surrounded and assailed his Divine Person under the forms of hideous spectres… (After asking the disciples why they slept), He then returned to the grotto, his mental sufferings being still on the increase, while his disciples, on their part, stretched forth their hands towards him, wept, and embraced each other, asking, ‘What can it be? What is happening to him? He appears to be in a state of complete desolation.’ (Jesus then went back to pray and in his anguish of spirit, raised his voice, and gave utterance to several cries of pain. The three Apostles awoke, listened, and were desirous of approaching him, but Peter detained James and John, saying: ‘Stay you here; I will join him.’ Then I saw Peter hastily run forward and enter the grotto. ‘Master,’ he exclaimed, ‘what has befallen thee?’ But at the sight of Jesus, thus bathed in his own blood, and sinking to the ground beneath the weight of mortal fear and anguish, he drew back, and paused for a moment, overcome with terror.
During this agony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. She was with Magdalen and Mary… for she beheld in spirit Jesus bathed in a bloody sweat. I saw the interior movements of her soul towards Jesus, who thought of her, and turned his eyes in her direction, as if to seek her assistance. I beheld the spiritual communication which they had with each other, under the form of rays passing to and fro between them.
He saw also and felt the sufferings endured at that moment by his Mother, whose interior union with his agony was so entire that she had fainted in the arms of her two friends.(emphasis mine)
Satan watches as Jesus prays. Satan tempts Jesus, saying “Do you really believe one man can carry this burden? …saving their souls is too costly;” Satan sends a snake to bite Jesus; Jesus crushes the snake’s head in an allusion to Genesis 3:15. None of the preceding is, in any way, hinted at in the Bible. Satan was in The Garden of Eden; he was not in the Garden of Gethsemane.
See the following Scripture verses: Mt 26:36-46; Mk 14:32-42; Lk 22:39-46
There is no place that states Jesus was ever afraid. He knew the purpose of His Father in having Him come and that purpose fully agreed with His own. He had come to die for the sins of all mankind. All His life pointed to this very time:
27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
– John 12:27 New King James Version (NKJV) Jesus Predicts His Death on the Cross
Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun, agrees with the Emmerich Marian visions. In Agreda’s mystical City of God she relates that Mary sensed Jesus’ pain even while far was away from him. From the very beginning the movie interweaves the mystical relationship between Jesus and his mother, the “interior movements of her soul,” and the “spiritual communication they had with each other.” When He suffers, she suffers. When He needs comfort, she is there.
Yet this is not how the Bible depicts His closest relationship. In The Garden of Gethsemane and at the cross there is only One that He had “spiritual communication” with – the One He has always been nearest to:
11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
– John 17:11 New King James Version (NKJV)
There is a misrepresentation of Jesus’ innate dedication to His Father’s will as He utters “ I don’t want them to see me this way” – He sounds prideful and weak.
See Scripture verses: Jn 18; Lk 22; Mt 26:52
CHAPTER II: Judas and his Band
They tied [Jesus’] hands as tightly as possible with hard new cords, fastening the right-hand wrist under the left elbow, and the left-hand wrist under the right elbow. They then fastened four ropes to different parts of the belt, and by means of these ropes dragged our Blessed Lord from side to side in the most cruel manner. They led him along the roughest road they could select, over the sharpest stones, and through the thickest mire; they pulled the cords as tightly as possible…
I saw our Lord fall twice before he reached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by the barbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw him off the bridge …They pulled him up again in the most cruel manner, struck him with cords, and fastened the ends of his garment to the belt…(IMNB
In The Garden of Gethsemane there is no reference to any soldiers beating Jesus. Mark 14: 46, 53 and Matthew 26: 50,57 simply tell of the soldiers seizing Him and leading Him away to the High Priests. Neither is there any reference to the soldiers wrapping Him with a cord said to be five times thicker than the ones normally used on dangerous criminals. Neither is there in the Bible any instance of Jesus falling from a bridge and, while dangling, coming face to face with Judas. (see Lk22:54; John 18:12-13).
CHAPTER XI: Mary in the House of Caiphas and other appearances by Mary
The Blessed Virgin was ever united to her Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was, therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—she suffered with him…
Mary drew close to (Peter), and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon, son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—‘Mother!’ exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak not to me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express: speak not to me! They have condemned him to death, and I have denied him three times.’
In the Bible Peter never called Mary, Mother. Yet the Catholic Church calls Mary the Mother of All.
Mary was with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her…she listened and heard not only his moans, but also the abusive language of those around him…(yet) the Blessed Virgin, by a special grace from Almighty God, maintained a calm and dignified exterior in the midst of her sufferings.
The Bible speaks differently of the mother of the child/man Jesus who takes a humble position throughout her life upon herself…yet always glorifying her son as we see in The Magnificat:
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
Luke 1:46-47 New King James Version (NKJV)
Mary’s last spoken words in the Bible ascertain that everyone’s eyes should totally shift toward her son, Jesus:
5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
– John 2:5 New King James Version (NKJV)
In addition to these other appearances by Mary, Emmerich inserts another. She has Mary and her companions in the crowd at the temple. You’ll see in Scripture where Mt 26:57; Mk 14:53; Lk 22:54; Jn 18:13 deny this.
CHAPTER XVIII: The Origin of the Way of the Cross
During the whole of the scene which we have just described, the Mother of Jesus, with Magdalen and John, had stood in a recess in the forum: they were overwhelmed with the most bitter sorrow, which was but increased by all they heard and saw. When Jesus was taken before Herod, John led the Blessed Virgin and Magdalen over the parts which had been sanctified by his footsteps. The Blessed Virgin knelt down frequently and kissed the ground where her Son had fallen, while Magdalen wrung her hands in bitter grief, and John, although he could not restrain his own tears, endeavoured to console his companions, supported, and led them on. Thus was the holy devotion of the ‘Way of the Cross’ first practised; thus were the Mysteries of the Passion of Jesus first honoured, even before that Passion was accomplished, and the Blessed Virgin, that model of spotless purity, was the first to show forth the deep veneration felt by the Church for our dear Lord.
She who had once borne the Saviour of the world in her chaste womb, and suckled him for so long,—she who had truly conceived him who was the Word of God, in God from all eternity, and truly God,—she beneath whose heart, full of grace, he had deigned to dwell nine months, who had felt him living within her before he appeared among men to impart the blessing of salvation and teach them his heavenly doctrines; she suffered with Jesus, sharing with him not only the sufferings of his bitter Passion, but likewise that ardent desire of redeeming fallen man by an ignominious death, which consumed him.
In this touching manner did the most pure and holy Virgin lay the foundation of the devotion called the Way of the Cross; thus at each station, marked by the sufferings of her Son, did she lay up in her heart the inexhaustible merits of his Passion, and gather them up as precious stones or sweet-scented flowers to be presented as a choice offering to the Eternal Father in behalf of all true believers.
So are the building blocks laid for Mary being pictured as Co-Redeemer with Jesus. Notice that the foundation for the Way of the Cross did not come from the Bible but from the actions of Mary.
In this section of Anne Catherine Emmerich’s vision is seen the foundation for the Catholic Stations of the Cross.
To date, there are 14 traditional stations: Pilate condemns Christ to death; Jesus carries the cross; the first fall; Jesus meets His Blessed Mother; Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the cross; Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; the second fall; Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem; the third fall; Jesus is stripped of His garments; Jesus is nailed to the cross; Jesus dies on the cross; Jesus is taken down from the cross; and Jesus is laid in the tomb. http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/stcross.htm
Notice as we go through the Emmerich excerpts that in the Stations of the Cross that are three falls mentioned and Veronica wiping Jesus’ face – none of these events are found in the Bible but they are in the movie.
CHAPTER XXII: The Scourging of Jesus
… Then heart of John was filled with love, and he suffered intensely, but he uttered not a word. He supported the Mother of his beloved Master in this her first pilgrimage through the stations of the Way of the Cross, and assisted her in giving the example of that devotion which has since been practised with so much fervour by the members of the Christian Church…Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar…he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her… Our loving Lord, the Son of God, true God and true Man, writhed as a worm under the blows of these barbarians; his mild but deep groans might be heard from afar; they resounded through the air, fording a kind of touching accompaniment to the hissing of the instruments of torture. The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar…and they recommenced scourging him with even greater fury than before.
This was totally against their law of being able to deliver no more than 39 lashes to the back of a person. A soldier kept count in a book of the number of strokes. First, hard, rough sticks were used. Then the sadistic soldiers used cat o’nine tails in an exhibition of brutality no child, adult 18 or or under or even over 18 can bear to watch. Having scourged His back more than what was legally allowed, the soldier flipped Jesus over and whipped his front torso – an unheard of action in a Roman scourging. It’s only reason for inclusion would have been to have added to the already-profound amount of violence and bloodshed. It was obvious that this was a sadistic, competitive game being played by the torturers. None of this served any purpose. That became obvious when Jesus came to the hill of Golgotha and rested among the two thieves at His right and left. They, too, were scourged before being nailed to their crosses. Yet, in comparison to the massive strokes brought upon by the bloodbath of torture inflicted upon Jesus, they looked like someone had taken a broad magic marker and lightly drawn strokes upon them. Jesus’ torture only emphasized the notion that His physical suffering paid the price for our sins. Isaiah 50:6 states “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; did not hide my face from mocking and spitting”.
The frightening brutality of the whipping of Jesus, first with a stick and then with a cat-o’-nine-tails that has metal barbs, is inspired not by Gospels’ account of the flogging, but by Emmerich’s Dolorous Passion and Mary of Agreda’s City of God. These mystical books describe Jesus’ flogging in vivid and excruciating details. Emmerich saw Jesus’ body “entirely covered with black, blue, and red marks; the blood was trickling down on the ground …they made use of a different kind of rod,—a species of thorny stick, covered with knots and splinters. These barbarians … untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. … they recommenced scourging him with even greater fury than before … The body of our Lord was perfectly torn to shreds.” Gibson’s script follows the details of this gruesome description by having Jesus flogged twice, in the front and back, first with a stick and then with a a cat-o’-nine-tails. http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/endtimeissues/passion_of_christ2.html
To be continued next week…
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