EXONERATING JUDAS.

How interesting to read that the BBC is to screen a new drama about the final week in the life of Jesus Christ which appears to exonerate Judas and Pontius Pilate. Producers of The Passion have portrayed the men in a sympathetic light because they believe they have been “very harshly judged” by history. A BBC spokesman said:”We are not seeking to subvert or rewrite the Gospel narrative – we are just retelling it to bring it alive for a contemporary audience.” Right, so you KNOW that that this is exactly what they are looking to do. However I’m looking forward to these bravehearts in the BBC pitching a drama about the life of Mohammad which implicates him in a paedophile and mass murdering scandal. I mean, it’s not JUST Christianity that the BBC wishes to “take a fresh look at” – is it?

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62 Responses to EXONERATING JUDAS.

  1. Martin says:

    I’m amazed that in some sort of McLabour/BBC way they haven’t come up with a plot that blames the death of Jesus on Thatcher.

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  2. banjo says:

    Phase one.
    Sanitise the hateful religion of islam.
    Phase two.
    Exonerate the betrayer and murderer of jesus.
    Next.
    Christians are all bastards,Why we should all follow the example of mohammed.

    I`ve never had a faith,but am at a loss to understand how the bbc can blatently pussyfoot around the sensiblities of one faith and be so casually disparaging about another.
    Could it be that one faith will calmly accept that in a secular society its views may be challenged and not held sacred by everyone in that society?
    But another faith will parade with banners and threats of violence towards unbelievers?
    Guess to which side the the cowardly yellow bastards at the bbc have firmly nailed their flag.

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  3. WoAD says:

    Well, we must enter into dialogue with Judas and try to understand his motivations, maybe he was a victim of Roman anti Jewish prejudice, maybe he was unemployed and needed the money.

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  4. Anat (Israel) says:

    WoAD,
    A very sensible approach. And what was Pilate a victim of? (beside Thatcher, that is).

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  5. WoAD says:

    “what was Pilate a victim of?”

    Circumstance you could say, but his all important line “what is truth?” sums up him and the Roman Empire and the unruly mob who put him in that position in the first place. Truth for them was only power and political expedience. Shame on them all.

    (Seeeee, I neatly avoided the libel there, and I can defend it on the basis of what the Bibel actually says! The best kind of Truth is a Truth that fits all the facts perfectly – i.e. The Falklands really are British)

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  6. WoAD says:

    No wait, Pilate was in a crabby mood because Emperor Thatcherus had compelled to him commit casual atrocities with a blunt sword and sandals that melted in the midday sun.

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  7. gjm says:

    I think some of the criticism here is misplaced particularly before the show has been seen. The reasons for the execution of Jesus and who was principally responsible is the subject of legitimate debate among scholars who generally do not accept the gospel accounts, which are themselves inconsistent, as historical truth. Many of these scholars are themselves believing Christians often with an interest to uncover anti-Jewish bias in the gospel accounts. The exculpation of Pilate is to be found in the Gospel accounts themselves and seems to be a way to take away from the Roman authorities and place it firmly with the Priestly leadership and the Jewish mob. Even assuming that Judas played a crucial role in betraying Jesus, why is it inappropriate to understand his motives and state of mind? Saying that he was simply “evil” is another way of attributing to him a diabolical metaphysical evil beyond any psychological or other explanation. Historically this kind of understanding was applied not only to Judas but to the “perfidious” Jews he has often been seen to represent. In your report there is no suggestion that the film denigrates the figure of Jesus in any way.
    The question of what would be the response would be to any attempt to portray the life of the prophet of Islam applying a similarly skeptical view of traditional sources is indeed interesting. Would the BBC be prepared to air a drama suggesting that, the things that you can, read in the Koran, they aint necessarily so?

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  8. deegee says:

    Would the BBC be prepared to air a drama suggesting that, the things that you can, read in the Koran, they aint necessarily so?
    gjm | 11.03.08 – 8:05 am

    It would be an amazing act of acrobat scriptwriting if they could bring it off without having British embassies burnt around the world.

    Why a drama? Surely casting doubt on the Koran is documentary?

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Judas was “very harshly judged”? The BBC sticking up for a Jew? Is this a first?

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  10. deegee says:

    BTW Check out The Message particularly trivia to see how difficult it is to produce even a ‘worshipful’ drama of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

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  11. Stray Taoist says:

    David. (Nice to see you turn up here, I will admit to not having read you since I leave God’s Own Country a few years ago.)

    Has history harshly judged Judas? More than probably. Don’t forget the Gospels were written by *other* disciples, and they views were coloured by what he did. Now, also don’t forget he *was* a disciple, and not some hanger-on blow-in. Judas is central to the story, a catalyst for the events that followed.

    Of course, he was also an ultra-nationalistic Jew, and fervently believed Christ to be the _warrior_ king incarnate. His motives may have been ‘forcing the hand of Jesus’, into insurrection and rebellion against the Romans, to free Israel (which wasn’t really Israel, rather the two parts that fractured a few centuries before).

    I know what you are trying to say, but I think the no-sequitur of applying Islam to the end doesn’t help your (theological) cause. It does, however, demonstrate the outlook of the tellytaxers, which I guess is what this site is about. Sorry, *I* seem to have gotten sidetracked into theology 🙂

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  12. Is the life story of mohammad not worth a re-telling – as it really was! There is still plenty of evidence of how he conducted himself which, if one the daring script-writers in the BBC can have a look at it, would produce a controversial(!) program of the kind that the BBC particularly likes about Christianity.

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  13. Susan Franklin says:

    Yesterday on BBC News 24 a Catholic priest was being interviewed about the additional commandments put forward by the Pope. The two BBC anchors were openly laughing, jeering and taunting the Catholic priest they were interviewing. They actually laughed at him, and joked about it between themselves after the interview ended.

    They disrespect and mock Christianity. Will they do the same to Islam? If not, why not?

    Alternatively, could they perhaps show respect to all religions in equal measure?

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  14. TDK says:

    Interestingly when Jesus Christ Superstar was first staged it was criticised for being too sympathetic to Judas and Pilate.

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  15. backwoodsman says:

    Interesting spin on ‘forced marriages in the Asian community’ today – as far as I’m aware, this has never been reported as an issue in the Bhudist or Hindu communities !

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  16. Bryan says:

    Judas was “very harshly judged”? The BBC sticking up for a Jew? Is this a first?
    Anonymous | 11.03.08 – 8:35 am

    Thanks for the chuckle, Anonymous. The BBC will throw its most cherished principles overboard in order to trash Christianity.

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  17. Abandon Ship! says:

    WoAD

    Interesting, but I have always considered the line “What is Truth?” by Pilate to sum up the postmodern view, which is why your average Beeboid feels an affinity with this Roman official. Also note that Pilate says his line and then walks away, when “Truth” was actually staring him in the face. However I imagine such thoughts are outside the orbit of Beeboid thinking, where moral relativism and self loathing dominate.

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  18. Abandon Ship! says:

    With regard to Islam, I imagine that discussions of such a series probing the Koran, Mohammed, or the history of the religion to the present day has been discussed many times in the boardroom of Beeboid House. However it is likely that such a series has not been made, and will not be in the current climate because:
    1. Beeboids value their lives
    2. Beeboids in their PC straitjackets would have no idea how to pitch such a programme

    There is an urgent need for Islam to undergo some sort of reformation. Lets forget the stoning and the suicide bombing for now, and just consider how many states where Islam predominates can be regarded as prosperous, free and democratic? The BBC could help this process along by creating honest and hard-hitting analysis of these countries and the role of this religion in preventing development and freedoms. But they won’t. Instead they do the cultural cringe. Even in our own country the BBC should be shouting this from the rooftops:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7288820.stm

    But it isn’t. And we all know why.

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  19. Phil says:

    Judas was a proto-socialist who wanted to sell a gift of ointment and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Jesus refused to do this, pointing out that the poor will be with us always, but he wouldn’t be. Still, Judas had made a gesture which gave him a cheap form of moral superiority over other disciples.
    Like almost all socialists he didn’t mind making money for himself, and abandoned his discipleship once he could square it with his conscience and make a few bob for himself.
    So no wonder the Beeb gives him a sympathetic portrayal, he’s the one disciple Beeboids can identify with.

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  20. Yaffle says:

    backwoodsman: Forced marriage *is* an issue in the Hindu and other communities too.

    BTW did anyone see “White Girl” on BBC2 last night – part of the “White Season”? The subtext was, effectively, “working-class whites are feckless, violent sociopaths who can only find redemption in the warm and loving embrace of Islam – which provides solace that Christianity can’t”. A new low from the self-loathing beeboids, IMHO.

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  21. Typhoo says:

    The BBC are beneath contempt. Anyone who watched last nights play white girl will see just how biased in favour of muslims the BBC truly are. The white kid, with the dysfuncttional family, a mother drunk, taking drugs almost whoring, moving in to a nice holy well kept neighbourhood of muslims. The muslim families in tact, while the white family fought in the street with foul language.

    I didn’t believe the BBC could sink any lower until I heard this on this mornings news.

    How low will they go?

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  22. Hillhunt says:

    This is the most serious scandal The Rev. Dr. Orange has brought before us… as big as Tail-fingate, non-interviewgate and smoking-in-cars-with-your-kidsgate put together!

    Blessings upon him and on the Telegraph!

    Confronted with this blot on the face of religious broadcasting, how many Popes, Archbishops, Cardinals, Bishops, Monsignors, Priests, Mother Superiors, Abbots or Vicars did the Telegraph get on the end of the phone to blast the BBC?

    None.

    No, they went for someone far better as a dispassionate observer of religious telly, Stephen Green, the evengelicals’ Mary Whitehouse de nos jours.

    And a triumph it is, too. Green (has he actually seen The Passion?) has previous form haplessly pursuing the BBC through the courts over Jerry Springer The Opera.

    Like Mr Orange, he’s a fervent believer in rubbing along with his fellow man, and a relaxed, easy-going sort who wouldn’t let minor tribal differences cloud his altruistic vision.

    Here he is on mosques: A mosque is regarded as an abomination in the sight of Almighty God…

    If the Olympic mosque (in London) is built, its days will surely be numbered. This is because ‘the adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.’

    And on equal rights for homosexuals:

    Of course we make ‘discriminatory pronouncements on grounds of sexual orientation’. We have been criticising homosexual rights ever since we started eleven years ago…

    It is a conviction of our Christian faith that homosexual activity is sinful; in fact that it is an abomination in the eyes of God

    Biased BBC: Amen To All That

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  23. Sandra says:

    “The exculpation of Pilate is to be found in the Gospel accounts themselves and seems to be a way to take away from the Roman authorities…” gjm | 11.03.08 – 8:05 am

    No. In my church, and many others, every single week, we say Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate. In fact he is specially singled out.

    Exculpation – perhaps you read too much Dan Brown, perhaps so do the so-called scholars.

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  24. Sandra says:

    hillhunt

    Jerry Springer The Opera had more complaints than all other BBC complaints in history added together.

    But they showed it and supported anyway, whilst they retacted and cancelled other shows or items.

    Would it have been shown if it was Mohammed rather than Jesus camping it up in a nappy, you know the answer.

    Hillhunt: Always Support The Tiny Minority, Never Support The Overwhelming Majority

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  25. Anonymous says:

    I did not refer to the creed but to the Gospel accounts that portray Pilate as convinced of Jesus’ innocence and that he is a victim of Jewish envy and spite. He offers the crowd to release him but they refuse. He is forced against his better judgment to bend to their will. This does not make him a hero but it hardly makes him the real villain of the piece.

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  26. bob says:

    Sandra: fair criticism of Hillhunt, but it cd be re-phrased –
    “Always support the psychopathic head-hackers (we’re too terrified not to), Never fail to get some easy shock-value out of insulting the placid”

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  27. thud says:

    Jesus made me do it…ok thats alright then…can’t be blaming anybody can we beeb?

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  28. MattLondon says:

    There’s nothing special or new about an interpretation of the Passion that takes the views of Judas or of Pilate that are being criticsed here as bias. And not only are those views not counter-scriptural, they are not contrary to the Nicene Creed either – there is no dispute that Christ suffered and that it was at Pilate’s say-so – it is the motivation and the moral guilt that is in question – and the complex motivations apparently implict in the this BBC production probably speak more tellingly to many present day Christians than the black and white simplicities of more traditional renderings. Sit down with any group of Christians anfd discuss the Bible and I suspect that is what you will find.

    There are enogh real things to complain abvout in what the BBC produces. Raising false spectres doesn’t strengthen. In recent days BBBC seemed to have got back somewhat to what it ws best at doing – attacking the messenger not the message – keep up THAT good work.

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  29. David Vance says:

    Hi Matt,

    It’s not so much the bias in the specific here that concerns me, as a Christian it’s what I expect from the BBC but why is Christianity singled out by all these ever so brave script writers when Islam gets a complete pass? Can you imagine the BBC producing an exiting new production examining claims that the Prophet was a paedophile? I don’t think this is a false bias, the BBC despises the Christian faith and does all it can do reduce it. (Mind you, Rowan Williams has the same approach!)

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  30. Hillhunt says:

    bob:

    “Always support the psychopathic head-hackers (we’re too terrified not to), Never fail to get some easy shock-value out of insulting the placid”

    Fair point, bob.

    Just remind me, though: Where is the support for psychopathic head-hackers in the above?

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  31. Cockney says:

    Hang on, I thought the criticism was that the Beeb ignored Christianity? Here’s a drama celebrating the Christian story and you want more Muslim action?

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  32. Sandra says:

    “…the complex motivations apparently implict in the this BBC production probably speak more tellingly to many present day Christians than the black and white simplicities of more traditional renderings. Sit down with any group of Christians anfd discuss the Bible and I suspect that is what you will find.” MattLondon

    That is not my experience and I am a regular churchgoer and practising Christian so I do sit with groups of Christians and discuss the bible.

    I think as Anglicans we qualify under your ‘any group’ definition.

    Are you a practising Christian and do you discuss the bible with fellow Christians or are your ‘suspicions’, like much of the BBC’s apparent coverage of Christianity, in reality just a wild guess?

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  33. Hugh says:

    Cockney: “Hang on, I thought the criticism was that the Beeb ignored Christianity? Here’s a drama celebrating the Christian story.”

    Bit disingenuous perhaps? It would appear to be a re-examination of the gospel to cast Pilot and Judas in a more favourable light rather than a simple celebration of the Christian story. If memory serves the BBC did a similar thing last year. Easter always seems to be an excuse for the BBC to take a “controversial” look at the Christian religion: a line it fails to take with the festivals of other major religions.

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  34. David Vance says:

    The follow up – “Satan, a man more sinned against than sinning”?

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  35. hymee says:

    This may be off thread but I read a book called “Jesus the Man”by a christian scholar (can’t remenber her name) which seemed to put the whole tale in perspective. Judas was the bad guy.

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  36. Cockney says:

    Hugh,

    Come off it – the whole point of Christianity is re-examination and interpretation. That’s why it’s been the world’s most successful religion and arguably greatest force for good for the best part of 2000 years. If the bible was taken as just a collection of turgidly written and inconsistent literal stories which one was supposed to unquestioningly accept would anyone give a monkeys in 2008?

    For example if this particular story goes against the gospel then which gospel are we looking at here for starters given their differing focusses if not outright contradictions in places? If the writers are just making stuff up which isn’t biblically documented then that’s a different issue but proper Christianity involves theological discussion and interpretation – it’s not toytown linear story that seems to be the norm in modern depictions.

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  37. Anon says:

    Judas was “very harshly judged”? The BBC sticking up for a Jew? Is this a first?
    Anonymous | 11.03.08 – 8:35 am

    Considering that most protagonists were Jewish, a cynic might say that the BBC likes to see Jews fight among themselves 🙂

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  38. David Preiser (USA) says:

    The hippy-dippy who wrote this probably stumbled upon some article – or stoner circle philosopher bore – talking about a Gnostic interpretation of Judas. This idea, as gjm pointed out above, is ancient news.

    The idea is that Judas’s betrayal was all part of God’s plan, etc., otherwise Jesus couldn’t be crucified for our sins, how else could it happen. Pilate wasn’t given ultimate blame because, as gjm also says, blaming the bloody Romans wasn’t the point (besides which that’s not a good way to start your little underground answer to the Mithra cult in a Roman-controlled area). The Gnostics basically held that this was all part of the big magical mystery tour, and each had his role to play.

    However, I bet the writer and producer aren’t thinking like old-school Christians. The fact that the writer says that he was always puzzled that Judas “inexplicably betrays Jesus” tells you that he hasn’t bothered to do his homework at all, even in mainstream sources. He professes to have an inquisitive mind, but doesn’t appear to be very curious about information.

    No, they’re doing typical Leftoid post-modern absolution (to coin a phrase). You can’t blame anybody for anything, they are a victim of circumstance, don’t judge them until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins. The fact that the producers extend this absolution to Caiaphas shows just how wet they are.

    Is there a scene where Pilate asks the crowd whom they would have him release, and they ask for Barabas not because his name sounds funnier with Pilate’s speech impediment, but because he was sticking it to the bloody Romans, whereas Jesus was just causing trouble amongst the Jews? I mean, wouldn’t that be seeing the story from the point of view of the people who took the blame for almost two millennia?

    Bet there isn’t.

    It’s all very typical, all very shallow, all very boring. The thing I can’t understand is what’s the point of it all? What exactly is accomplished by giving this kind of post-modern treatment to the Gospel story? If the author quotes in the Telegraph article are anything to go by, they think that “bring(ing) it alive for a contemporary audience” means dumbing it down and removing any spiritual lessons one might learn. Oh, except the “all points of view are equally valid” one.

    I should have run odds on the White series, as I would be cleaning up after just the first three installments. So maybe I’ll do a betting pool on this one instead.

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  39. Hugh says:

    All the gospels seem fairly set on Judas being a bit of a villain, don’t they? And I don’t think you’ll find that many churches this Easter who will be focusing on a brave new interpretation of the story. Generally at this time of year they tend to be fairly happy with the traditional take on the story and its significance. And almost always at this time of year the BBC manages to come up with something that a fair amount of Christians seem to think falls some way short of a celebration of the occasion.

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  40. Abandon Ship! says:

    Of related interest, did anyone see the hannel 4 programme about a month ago on the Dead Sea Scrolls presented by former Beeboid “The Scud Stud”? It was quite interesting because who did he choose to interview about conspiracy theories relating to the scrolls and early gospels? Why, none other than Michael Baigent (Holy Blood and The Grail and other “master” works of theology and history), Jesus conspiracy theorist supreme. No wonder Scud Stud is slipping down the ranks for serious journalism.

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  41. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Cockney | 11.03.08 – 3:05 pm |

    Come off it – the whole point of Christianity is re-examination and interpretation.

    I think you had better rephrase that. I understand that you feel that re-interpreting or having theological discussions about Biblical narratives has enabled many people to occasionally acknowledge some lightweight “belief” in a higher power or something. But how exactly is that the “point” of Christianity?

    Or do you just mean “modern religion”?

    If the writers are just making stuff up which isn’t biblically documented then that’s a different issue but proper Christianity involves theological discussion and interpretation – it’s not toytown linear story that seems to be the norm in modern depictions.

    The personal journeys of Judas, Pilate, etc., are most certainly not Biblically documented, so the writers are making all of it up.

    “Proper” Christianity? Are you a big fan of the ArchB of C, perhaps? Or are you just saying that the only Proper Christianity is the type espoused by trendy vicars like we see on sitcoms? And if you think “linear” narratives are no good, would you prefer that this was all done in hazy flashback mode? Or done backwards like that Seinfeld episode about their trip to the wedding in India? (Come to think of it, that would be pretty funny.)

    Actually, the kind of dopiness you’re going to see in this new series is very much becoming the norm in modern depictions.

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  42. BaggieJonathan says:

    More BBC religious ‘reappraisals’ coming soon…

    At Eid

    Umayya ibn khalaf, Asma bint Marwan and Abu ‘Afak – good guys just misinterpreted, didnt really go against mohammed, not really that bad surely muslims?

    At Diwali

    Duryodhana and Dushasana – really heroes just maligned, right Hindus?

    NOT!

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  43. WoAD says:

    What is Truth asks the Beeboid?

    Truth is: “Always Support The Tiny Minority, Never Support The Overwhelming Majority”

    Because (majority) power entails oppression, and power is a sign of moral weakness (perhaps because those who resort to fighting can’t win arguments), it follows that minority groups must be The Truth – like Jesus.

    Which is why Beeb presents Islam as saintly and Christlike, long suffering and tolerant in “White Girl” and attacks Christianity.

    Liberalism = Degenerate Christianity

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  44. Terry Hamblin says:

    The Passion looks like another one to miss. St Paul refers to the enemy of Christians as “The prince of the Powers of the Air” – perhaps prophesying the appearance of the BBC.

    Today, so few have actually read the Bible that the exoneration of Judas, Pilate and Caiaphas will pass over the heads of the majority. For the record Judas was a thief, Pilate found no fault in Jesus but was cowed by teh Jews and had him killed anyway and Caiaphas conducted an illegal trial because he thought it expedient that one man should die for the people. I wonder whether they will show a real resurrection or whether they will surround it with doubt?

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  45. dave s says:

    I am reluctant to enter into theological territory but I recall reading somewhere of an ancient heresy that believed Judas was central to the story.That he was charged with ensuring that Christ,being human and divine,would not waver in undergoing crucifixion without which there could be no resurrection.That in accepting this role he(Judas) doomed himself to infamy for all time.
    This will not of course be the line the BBC will take.Far too complicated and just would not fit the agenda

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  46. David Preiser (USA) says:

    dave s | 11.03.08 – 7:36 pm |

    That’s the Gnostic stuff I was talking about. I was guessing that the writer heard some bore going on about it once, or saw a mention of that idea in an article in the Guardian one Sunday.

    The Gnostic stuff like that got labeled as heresy a long time ago, for obvious reasons, and is still not part of mainstream theology, as far as I know. The way I see it though, this does go along with the Leftoid goal of breaking down traditional beliefs with post-modern relativism. In this case, Judas had his own valid viewpoint, who are we to judge, it’s not right to cast blame, it’s just an unnecessary guilt trip by the Establishment, see, your local clergyman has been lying to you all along about that, so what else has he got wrong?

    Even though this is the logical result of their approach, the producers probably don’t even realize they’re doing that at all, as it just comes naturally to them.

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  47. WoAD says:

    Eric Voegelin believed that the enlightenment age has been characterised by the return of gnosticism.

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  48. Angry Young Alex says:

    So you’re complaining now that the BBC doesn’t have enough of an anti-Judas bias?

    Loonies.

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  49. MattLondon says:

    Actually, the kind of dopiness you’re going to see in this new series is very much becoming the norm in modern depictions.
    David Preiser (USA) | 11.03.08 – 3:40 pm | #

    Well, we don’t need to watch it because DP(USA) KNOWS what is going to be in it.

    Really?

    Watch it, Mr P (USA), and criticise it then. Criticism based on what you assume the programme is going to say isn’t worth a bucket of warm s**t.

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  50. dave s says:

    David Preiser 8.17
    Actually I seem to remember reading it in a work published in the 19th century(I am trying to track it down).I am not at all inclined to a spiritual view of the world I merely pointed out that in the histories of heresies this one concerning Judas is of some antiquity.It seems strictly a theological argument and little to do with liberal left attacks on Western culture.After all heresies have always been part of belief.The Cathars
    posed such a threat that they were eliminated by the Catholic Church in the most barbaric of ways.To suggest we do not examine heresies is absurd.

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