Muslim apologetics has hit the silver screen. Christian Today reports:
An Iranian director says the movie he has produced on Jesus according to Islam is the Muslim answer to Western productions such as Mel Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ”.
While Nader Talebzadeh praised Gibson’s “Passion” as admirable he added, however, that it was quite simply “wrong”.
When I first came across this I though, hmmm, this could create some interesting openings for conversation between Christians and Muslims, if handled sensitively. And it seems that is one of the intents of the director, for he states:
“By making this film I wanted to make a bridge between Christianity and Islam, to open the door for dialogue since there is much common ground between Islam and Christianity,” he said.
However, the more cynical side of me says, that’s a big if. There are some on both side who seek dialogue, but aren’t always the ones in the media spotlight now are they! Still, that doesn’t mean people like us can’t make the most of an opportunity.
One of the questions the film obviously raises is, can both views of Jesus be correct? I suspect affirming that will be a stretch for even the most hard core relativist, which then raises the question, well which one is more correct and how can you tell?
5 thoughts on “Islamic Jesus to make TV debut”
> to open the door for dialogue
Should I then make a movie about Mohammed, on the premise that the Qur’an’s view is “quite simply ‘wrong'”? Hmmm… That said, this doesn’t seem to be a bad dialogue opportunity.
While ‘The Passion’ took the early-medieval view that suffering was intrinsically cathartic, and so gratuitously emphasized it, the Qur’an objects to Jesus suffering at all, being an honoured Prophet. It says Allah deceived the executioners so that they thought they were doing so (Sura 4:156); I think the ~C16 ‘Gospel of Barnabas’ suggests that Judas was substrituted for him, and this became a very popular idea in Muslim circles. See e.g.
Judas’ fate, on this view, is rather like Pentheus in ‘The Bacchae’ by Euripides; after getting on the wrong side of Dionysius, his appearance is changed so that he is subsequently murdered: to add to his disgrace, his own mum even rips his arm off to get things started.
There is obviously no genetic connection between the stories, but the same principle is expressed: the divine being, or one in his favour, does not suffer, nor is he dishonoured. Rather, he punishes and shames his enemies. Roman Imperial Christianity took on the same assumptions in time, but it didn’t get them from the New Testament.
These other views stand in contrast to the Jewish history of suffering prophets, in which the best and brightest are generally killed for political reasons by the unjust. That is the tradition in which Jesus stands.
If the ‘simply wrong’ element, in Talebzadeh’s view, is Jesus’ suffering as a prophet (let alone, in the Christian view, as God), then that may be a useful basis for dialogue. In Christianity, triumphalism is an ugly abberation; rather than pay back dishonour with cunning, God breaks with convention by suffering with us.
That is an extraordinarily multidimensional act. To take only the most obvious angle, it means that he identifies with us in our world of suffering and becomes the greatest example of true godliness, not repaying evil for evil, but working for the good of his enemies.
If God subjects himself to suffering, that has a number of important consequences: God is not detached from life and suffering; God values love and heart change above glory and retribution; and suffering disgrace is not a dishonour in his eyes. If he becomes an example of perseverance, then our own suffering is not purposeless. If he invites to life, without compelling adherence, then our freedom is the most important thing about us.
These seem to me to be the basic dialogue points that arise; I’d be curious to hear what others would add.
I too admit to being cynical- in fact I can see huge potential pit falls here….
…are we truly able to watch this representation of Jesus and then enter into a reasonable dialogue? I pray that grace would prevail and the answer will be yes, but I fear a backlash that will be less than helpful!
Like you say, both interesting but a chance for pitfalls. I’d be more interested, say, in a PBS documentary explaining Muslim perspectives on Jesus.
Hmmm… then we’ll need the Eastern version of Christ being just another Avatar…
This could get fun!
I expect one on one dialogue would be the go, well away from the inflaming media spotlight.
But Sun Warrior raises an interesting possibility, why not encourage the Buddhists and Muslims to face off over whether Jesus was Maitreya or the Madhi while we sit back and watch with popcorn? Be a change I suppose…