Bible-based films should stick to the Bible. That is, when the Bible states something as historical fact, it should not be changed in a Bible-based film. I blogged before, that the movie “Risen” wrongly has Jesus ascending to heaven from Galilee. I’ll go over this again.
I’m going to restate this here because I am wondering how Randall Wallace and Mel Gibson are going to have Jesus’ heavenly ascension in their yet future film they are working on. It is about Jesus’ resurrection as a sequel to Gibson’s 2004 blockbuster movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” I assume they will end the film with it. The Hollywood Reporter said that Gibson said months ago that they are working on the script and that they expect the film will be released next year. I expect that they will make the film center on Jesus’ resurrection appearances to his disciples recorded in the New Testament.
(I wrote a movie script on Jesus’ ten (or eleven) resurrection appearances recorded in the New Testament right after I saw “The Passion of the Christ” the day it was released. I based my script on portions from my book, The Gospels Interwoven, plus a 100-page “apparatus” I then created, which was more research on this difficult subject. I then tried to shop the script in Hollywood. I met Gibson’s scriptwriter for that film, Benedict Fitzgerald. He read my script, liked it a lot, and recommended it as needing only a “professional polish.” But it is tough to break into Hollywood. I eventually gave up. Last year, however, I phoned Randall Wallace’s son (who works for his dad), asking if they would look at what I had. He refused, saying they don’t accept anything from “the outside.” That is, they only write their own stuff. Sometimes, people do that mostly to avoid lawsuits. I, of course, was only hoping that they would use my screenplay and apparatus to help them in writing theirs. This is a very difficult biblical genre to get right. It takes a lot of understanding about the biblical narratives, tradition, history, etc. Most New Testament scholars dismiss it as impossible to get right. I think it is still worthwhile to try. I’ve believed for a long time that a film about Jesus’ resurrection appearances done right could be a truly great film. And that was before The Passion. Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion, is going to play Jesus again in this film. He said in an interview in January this year that this will be the “biggest film ever.”)
Luke: In the movie “Risen,” the reason they changed the location of Jesus’ heavenly ascension is due to what some historical-critical New Testament scholars (wrongly I think) regard as a discrepancy in comparing the synoptic gospels. Luke, in both Luke 24.50-51 and Acts 1.12, says Jesus ascended from near Bethany on the Mount of Olives, which is right next to Jerusalem. That has been the traditional and correct view almost all Christians have always believed.
Mark: By accepting the unanimous view of scholars, that the original Gospel of Mark ends at Mark 16.8, which I accept, Mark says the risen Jesus gave a message for his disciples to go to Galilee where he would meet them (Mk 16.7), and then Mark ends. So, this gospel says no more and leaves readers questioning what happened after that. Most scholars think there must have been more ending of Mark and that it was lost.
Matthew: Matthew says the disciples went to Galilee, as the risen Jesus had told them to, and he appeared to them there (Matt. 28.7, 16). But then the G. of Matt. ends, like Mark does, without telling us anything about Jesus’ subsequent heavenly ascension.
Paul: Finally, Paul says the risen Jesus appeared to 500+ disciples in Galilee (1 Cor. 15.7). Some Bible readers therefore conclude that there is discrepancy between these facts, with which I disagree. Here is what I think happened. The disciples had to remain in Jerusalem for one week until the Feast of Unleavened Bread was finished. Then they went back home to Galilee, gathered today on the mt. Jesus had earlier indicated to them, and he appeared to them. Weeks passed and then they returned to Jerusalem days early for the Feast of Pentecost. Jesus appeared to them there, he took them to Mt. Olivet, and ascended to heaven from there exactly 40 days after his resurrection and 10 before the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 1.3).
Conclusion: The Bible is clear, that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mt. of Olives.