Biblical babes

I just watched the National Geographic special on The Gospel of Judas. Interesting subject, though it was handled in a pretty remedial way. As with most documentaries the parts I liked best were the interviews with experts (a.k.a., talking heads). I don’t like dramatic re-enactments of historical events. I often wonder if there’s any point to these at all. I guess they liven things up a bit, but they always seem a little silly to me and not very instructive.

If you’ve seen many Bible-themed movies you get used to it being a story — the greatest ever told! — that’s prettied up. Even the gore of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ has a glamorous quality to it, and Jim Caviezel is the usual “close but kind of meatless” actor playing Jesus. That’s the handsome-hippy way he’s also presented in the re-enactments here, with Judas equally good looking but with a dirty beard.

I tend to just roll my eyes at movie Jesuses now. They all look the same and I doubt they’re even that accurate. Even the idea that Jesus had a beard is debatable, as it was actually quite a late addition to his iconography (in the earliest depictions he was a beardless youth). But where I really had to laugh watching The Gospel of Judas was when I saw the women. Here are some early Christians listening to a reading of the gospels.

Come on. These ladies are beautiful. I don’t think many working-class women in first-century Palestine looked like this. And here is the martyr Blandina about to die for the faith in the arena at Lugdunum (modern Lyon).

A model martyr, if you will.

Again Mel Gibson’s movie can be taken as setting a high bar for this sort of thing, with Monica Bellucci playing Mary Magdalene. I guess it makes sense that a pretty Jesus should be surrounded by Biblical babes but this can be taken too far, even by Hollywood.

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