The Passion of the Christ is no stranger to controversy - in fact, it's one of the most controversial movies ever made, as well as one of the worst reviewed historical movies. This raises an important question: is The Passion of the Christ historically accurate? The movie might be based on religious texts, but in a showdown between The Passion of the Christ vs. the Bible, it's clear which comes out on top.
There are a number of Biblical errors in Passion of the Christ, as well as some major historical errors. For example, the movie gets almost everything about crucifixion wrong, including what crucified people wore. On top of that, there's all the torture and the depiction of the Jewish characters. And that's just scratching the surface of the Biblical problems with The Passion of the Christ.
The Passion of the Christ doesn't shy away from blood and gore. In fact, one reviewer called the movie a "bloody mess." Gibson himself said the most moving part of Jesus' story is that he was "whipped, scourged, mocked, spat on, [and] had spikes driven through his hands and feet." So it's no surprise the movie includes nearly two hours of physical suffering.
But there are a few major problems with the bloody torture. For one, there's very little evidence, either in the Bible or in historical documents, that Jesus was brutally tortured as shown in the movie. For another, in the gospels the major emphasis is on Jesus' teaching, not his torture, an equation that the movie firmly reverses.
There's no way to confuse the villains in The Passion of the Christ. In fact, Mel Gibson's movie goes out of its way to point the finger at Roman Judea's Jewish population, earning multiple condemnations for antisemitism. The movie portrays Jews as evil, bloodthirsty savages without providing any context for the split between Jesus and the Jewish high priests.
On top of that, armed Jewish guards abuse Jesus in graphic ways - but there's no way the Romans would have allowed the Jews to create a private army. According to the gospels, Jesus wasn't arrested by armed Jewish guards at all - they say he was arrested by a "large crowd" (Matt. 26:47) or "a crowd of men with swords and clubs" (Mark 14:43), which sounds more like a mob or militia than a formal army as shown in the movie.
And let's not forget that Jesus was Jewish. The movie definitely glosses over that.
Film critic Roger Ebert described The Passion of the Christ "the most violent movie that [he'd] ever seen" and declared that it should be rated NC-17. But aside from the violence, which dominates the movie, there's a whole different reason the movie should have an NC-17 rating: crucifixions were always executed in the nude.
Archaeologists Andrea Berlin and Jodi Magness point out that crucifixions in the Roman era never involved the tiny loincloth portrayed in the movie - victims were stripped completely naked before being nailed (or more commonly, hung) to the cross.
Everyone knows that Jesus was a carpenter. After all, Mark 6:3 identifies Jesus with the profession, when Jesus' first miracles are met with astonishment from his neighbors, who say "Isn’t this the carpenter?" But did Jesus have a career designing tables and chairs before he was crucified? The Passion of the Christ says yes. In one flashback, Jesus invents the dining table and chairs.
In the scene, a baffled Mary looks at a handsome table. It's too tall, she complains, people will have to eat standing. Jesus reassures her that he'll also make chairs. A skeptical Mary says: "This will never catch on."
There's just one problem: dining tables definitely existed before Jesus.