The Center is happy to announce the publication of its first sponsored book:

Pondering the Passion

What's at Stake for Christians and Jews?

Edited by Philip A. Cunningham

A Sheed & Ward Book; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004

$60.00 Cloth 0-7425-3217-8 192pp  Ordering Information
$19.95 Paper 0-7425-3218-6 192pp

From the "Introduction":

In January and February of 2004, the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning sponsored a multi-week speakers’ series at Boston College upon which this collection builds and expands. Since the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning is devoted to the development and implementation of new relationships of mutual enrichment between Christians and Jews, it was only natural that my Boston College colleagues and I would be interested in the public pondering of the Passion and its impact on Christian-Jewish relations. We are delighted to be joined by friends from other universities in this volume’s consideration of the meaning of the Passion for Jews and Christians. The recent widespread discussion has brought to light several important realities. What’s at stake for Christians and Jews when the Passion is discussed?

Pondering the Passion: What's at Stake for Christians and Jews? explores how the story of the death of Jesus has been imagined and portrayed over the centuries. In the shadow of the Holocaust and under the eye of contemporary scrutiny, the varied and often conflicting depictions of the Passion of Christ raise questions lying at the heart of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths: Who was Jesus? Why was he executed? What role did the Jews play in his death? How is Jesus' death redemptive? What does it mean to be saved? What are the psychological effects of seeing Jesus brutalized? How can artistic and creative license affect belief and doctrine in the religious imagination of the Judeo-Christian tradition?

Beginning with the world of the first century and the circumstances of Jesus' execution, the prominent Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish contributors consider the diverse perspectives of the canonical gospels; depictions of the Passion in Christian art, music, drama, and film; biblical and theological interpretations of the crucifixion; and contemporary ethical, educational, and psychological issues. This collection is must reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection, especially in light of contemporary depictions of and discussions over depictions of the Passion.

List of Contributors
Pamela Berger, Mary C. Boys, John Clabeaux, Michael J. Cook, Maddy Cunningham, Philip A. Cunningham, Walter Harrelson, Raymond Helmick, John J. Michalczyk, John T. Pawlikowski, Louis Roy, A. James Rudin, Claudia Setzer, George M. Smiga, Clark Williamson

Table of Contents

Praise for Pondering the Passion

"Even if Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ has peaked as a box office golden egg, the debate it sparked about the murder of Jesus and the relations between Jews and Christians remains as heated and muddled as ever. We are deeply grateful to the contributors to Pondering the Passion for helping us think more clearly and critically about the biblical, historical, theological, and artistic issues surrounding the passion of Christ. Scholarly yet accessible, passionate yet well-reasoned, open to dialogue yet deeply rooted in the Christian faith, these essays must be required reading after every showing of The Passion of Christ."—Dr. Peter C. Phan, Ignacio Ellacuría Professor of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University, author of Many Faces, One Church.

"Pondering the Passion maps the landscape of issues raised by reflection on the accounts of the death of Jesus in the Gospels and Christian theological tradition as well as the controversies raised by Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ. Christians and Jews will be challenged by the essays in this book. These essays push both Christians and Jews beyond the debates of  history  versus  faith  or "liberal" versus "conservative." They seek to establish the boundaries of what constitutes a proper discussion about fundamental religious reflection for both communities in the twenty-first century."—Michael A. Signer , Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture, University of Notre Dame

"The essays in this collection ask vitally important questions about one of the most outrageous American media events of the young 21st century. The authors make it plain that every viewer of 'The Passion of the Christ' must address the questions. Most importantly, the authors offer sober, thoughtful, well-informed perspectives from which to seek answers. Representing a remarkable range of scholarly expertise, they bring resources from the many disciplines that bear on any portrayal of Jesus' Passion--history, scripture, theology, drama and film, music, religious education, and even psychology. The contents of this book offer many of the tools we need to handle this explosive film without doing collateral damage to our Jewish neighbors. Whether we are successful depends on our answer to the books' implicit central question: will the riches of this scholarship continue to be squandered? We do so at our own risk."—Peter A. Pettit , Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Assistant Professor of Religion, Muhlenberg College, PA

Publishers' Weekly - 11/8/04

"Scholars and practitioners of Christian-Jewish dialogue found themselves thrust into the spotlight in 2004 with the release of Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. The Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College, which Cunningham directs, rose to the occasion with a lecture series that led to this collection of essays. Its greatest strength is the way it resists the temptation to comment on Gibson’s film until theological and historical groundwork has been laid. The first four sections treat first-century history (including crucial questions about the exact nature of Jesus’ trial and sentencing), the historical nature of the gospel accounts, the Passion in the arts and the meaning of salvation and redemption in Christian theology. Only after this context has been established, generally in well-crafted essays that represent mainstream Catholic thought, do the book’s final contributors weigh in on the film itself. Among these essays, Cunningham’s stands out for its enumeration of the ways he says that Gibson flouted Catholic teaching and flirted with anti-Semitism in his artistic choices. Catholic educator Mary Boys also contributes a thoughtful reflection on the hostile responses she encountered when critiquing the film in public and on television. With few exceptions, these contributors bring substance to a conversation that deserves to continue after the glare of publicity has faded."

$60.00 Cloth 0-7425-3217-8 192pp  Ordering Information
$19.95 Paper 0-7425-3218-6 192pp