Merits of The Passion of the Christ to be considered at Vanderbilt, Amy-Jill Levine to lead trio of scholars speaking on March 2

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville community can get perspective to help process a controversial film directed by Mel Gibson about the death of Jesus Christ during a March 2 forum at Vanderbilt University sponsored by Vanderbilt Hillel.

The Passion of the Christ has provoked fears of anti-Semitism in the Jewish community, a possible endorsement by Pope John Paul II, and gotten marketing help from some evangelic Christians. The film depicts the last day in the life of Jesus, purportedly depicting his trial, torture and crucifixion more brutally than other film versions.

“There’s a seductive element to film that often overwhelms the senses and can interfere with rational thinking,” said Shaiya Baer, executive director of Vanderbilt Hillel, which serves the religious, social and educational needs of Jewish students at Vanderbilt University.

“This is an opportunity to pause and discuss these issues with people who work with them on a daily basis to get a grasp on what’s happening.”

The forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, at the Ben Schulman Center on the Vanderbilt campus. It is free and open to the public.

Leading the discussion will be Amy-Jill Levine, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Levine was part of a panel of scholars who reviewed an early version of the script of The Passion of the Christ. Also participating will be Mark Forrester and Brian Habig, the Methodist and Presbyterian chaplains at Vanderbilt, respectively.

Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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