(by Christopher Fredrickson)
My Instagram and Twitter has blown up with people going to see this new movie "Risen". Many telling me, "this is the most accurate film about Biblical events that has ever been made." I found it interesting because most people in Christianity and the Hebrew Roots condemn any movie that comes out about Biblical things because they tend to not fit the story the way they want to interpret it. Most still think still on this linear greek aspect that the linear greek, pashat only way of seeing the Scripture is the only way to see it, based on their own viewpoint and anyone else's be damned.
Because of my education I didn't see the movie Noah as the huge abomination most in the Hebrew Roots and Christianity did, because I praised how in the movie Noah they took much from the information found in the Talmud and the Zohar and Jewish thought in terms of the story of Noah. How the rock men were a symbolism of the golem, which is actually a parallel to the beast of Revelation, how they showed the heathens eating live animals, which is the way goyim (heathens) are presented in Biblical literature and Jewish thought, and Noah making teffilfin from the snakeskin of the serpent from the garden is straight from the Zohar. I had never seen such a jewish movie in my life. Most however thought, "these were things added into the story of Noah from the film makers" it simply isn't so. So I was curious about this new movie, Risen. The trailer looked interesting and so I went to it, thinking I would be pumping my fist in the air because of authenticity. Sadly, I couldn't do that.
The premise of the film is wonderful, The premise is about stopping a revolt because Yeshua said he would be resurrected from the dead. When this happens Clavius, a Roman soldier, sets out to get the facts on this matter. He works side by side with Pontus Pilate. When the film ends, he becomes a follower of Yeshua and travels with the disciples of Yeshua. Sounds great right?
The issue is, the move presents the Romans to be the truth seekers, and the Jews as paying off people to left and right to say that Yeshua's body was stolen. They make the Jewish people look like the ones cutting all the deals and the Romans (including Pilate) as people who are just searching out for truth and those Jews are the trouble makers. The Passion of the Christ had hints of anti-Semitism, lets be honest, but the anti-Semitism in this movie, Rising, is 5x more obvious and in your face compared to the Passion of the Christ. I would dare say, the Passion of the Christ is a more Jewish movie by far than Rising.
I think the thing that got many people excited about this movie in the Hebrew Roots is the sacred name usage in the film. Any sacred name film or documentary they are quick to put their stamp of approval on and dismiss anything else. They were taken in awe that a variation of the 4 letter name of G-d was used every 2 minutes in the film and they rendered the Messiah as Yeshua as opposed to Jesus. Because of their feeling of validation for use of the sacred name of G-d in this film they see the film as something that shows the world "see I am right and Hollywood confirms it." Too many in the Hebrew Roots find that the use of the 4 letter name of G-d and the variation they choose is a salvational thing, not walking out the Torah (which the Torah isn't mentioned once in the film). These two things made me almost leave the theater several times, but I stuck it out.
Another major issue, is chronology. Many of the stories in the gospels before his death were presented as though they happened after his death, this is going to confuse many people first of all. Another thing is that the actors that played his disciples looked and acted like they were taken out of Woodstock and placed in this movie. The hippie vibe was prevalent in the way the disciples were depicted in this film. The one why played Bartholomew has the most lines out of any disciple and looked like he was stoned with acting, and it almost seemed like that is how they wanted to make the disciples seem, as stoned out hippies.
The film also does what was a staple of Hollywood, which has made it's way not the pulpits saying that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Sadly, there is no indication of this in any of the Scriptures or even Jewish commentaries. This ideal was propagated in the early 20th century by the Hollywood. Not only does the film say she was a prostitute but still was a prostitute after the resurrection of Yeshua. Not only this but it has Mary Magdalene as being the teacher of the disciples after the resurrection.
To the film's credit on the other hand, the production was great, it was visually wonderful but it relied on style as opposed to substance. I do not give this film high marks at all, I personally found it to be horribly inaccurate and deeply anti-semitic and rather liberally political above all else.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)