The Passion of the Christ has been described by Protestant leaders as being factually accurate, very accurate [in the details], realistic, biblical, an accurate account,. a true representation of Jesus and close to the Scriptures. All of these quotes were taken from The Passion Outreach Web site, a resource dedicated to helping churches of all denominations capitalize on this movie. This movie is continually described as an exceedingly accurate portrayal of the gospel account of the passion of Jesus an account that transcends denominations.
Mel Gibson has repeatedly acknowledged that He drew inspiration for The Passion of the Christ both from the gospels and from the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich. He respects her to such an extent that he carries an Emmerich relic in his pocket at all times. Most Protestants pastors and leaders admit that Gibson has taken artistic license at times, but by reading Emmerichs book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ we will see that much of what is perceived as artistic license is actually following the words of Emmerich. It seems that it is impossible to reconcile Emmerich and the Bible. The movie must either follow the Word of God or the words of a human. Though the two seem to complement each other at times, far more often they contradict. A staunch Roman Catholic and devotee of Mary, Emmerich adds situations and theology which stand in direct contrast to the beliefs Protestants should hold dear.
Before we begin this examination I would like to answer the question of why I have decided to present this information. Certainly this could be construed as an attempt to just be critical for the sake of being critical. It could be seen as an attempt to lower other peoples perception of a man who claims to be a Christian. It could be seen as an attempt to discredit this movie.
I present this information for the sake of sharing what is true and what is false in this movie. This movie is being presented as truth, yet much of it is error. I seek to expose what is truth and what is error so people who see the movie can understand what parts of the story truly happened and are therefore important and part of the story of the Saviors death. At the same time I wish to show which parts are inspired by false revelation supposedly revealed by God almost two thousand years after the writing of the Bible. The error adds elements to the story that detract from Gods glory and Christs purpose in suffering and dying.
Brief Biographical Sketch of Anne Catherine Emmerich
The following information is drawn primarily from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is evident that her abilities are fiction, yet the Encyclopedia teaches they are fact.
Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun, stigmatic and ecstatic who was born in 1774 and died in 1824. She was forced to work from an early age and after a difficult twenty eight years of life entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. She soon began to display strange powers and ecstasies. Her convent was closed in 1812 and she was forced to find refuge in a poor widows house. In 1813 she became bedridden. It was during her long illness that her supernatural abilities became popular knowledge. Some of these abilities included conversing with the child Jesus, predicting future events, having knowledge of other peoples diseases and prescribing remedies that never failed. She soon experienced the stigmata with which she suffered for many years. In 1819 the poet Klemens Brentano visited her and she asked him to write down the many visions God had given her. In 1833 the “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich” was released followed in 1852 by “The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Six weeks after her death a rumor surfaced that her body had been removed from its grave. She was disinterred and it was discovered that her body had suffered no decay.
Emmerichs visions are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be private revelations and not public revelations. Therefore, not all Catholics are required to believe them and the Church has no official position on their accuracy or truth. They are widely accepted amongst Traditionalist Catholics and relatively unknown to other Catholics.
Emmerichs Influence in The Passion of the Christ
The following table details many of the scenes in the movie that are not described in the Bible and shows, where I have been able to find out, where the inspiration came from. This is not an exhaustive list of all the extra-Biblical material presented in the movie.
The Passion of the Christ
The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Satan torments Jesus in the garden ofGethsemane
Chapter 1, pages100-102
“But Satan, who was enthroned amid allthese horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight ofthem, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before theeyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same timeaddressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takestthou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear itspenalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?’”
Mary wakes up, sensing Jesus’s arrest
Chapter 1, page 116
“During thisagony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed withsorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother ofMark. She was with Magdalen and Mary in the garden belonging tothe house, and almost prostrate from grief, with her whole bodybowed down as she knelt. She fainted several times, for she beheldin spirit different portions of the agony of Jesus.”
“THE Blessed Virgin was ever united toher Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was,therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—shesuffered with him, and joined in his continual prayer for hismurderers. But her maternal feelings prompted her to supplicateAlmighty God most ardently not to suffer the crime to becompleted, and to save her Son from such dreadful torments.”
Soldiers throw Jesus off a bridge
Chapter 3, page 131
“I saw our Lord fall twice before hereached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by thebarbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when theywere half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutalinclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threwhim off the bridge into the water”
Jesus’ abuse when before the priests.
“At this answer of Jesus the countenanceof Annas flushed with fury and indignation. A base menial who wasstanding near perceived this, and he immediately struck our Lordon the face with his iron gauntlet, exclaiming at the same moment,‘Answerest thou the High Priest so?’ Jesus wasso nearly prostrated by the violence of the blow, that when theguards likewise reviled and struck him, he fell quite down, andblood trickled from his face on to the floor. Laughter, insults,and bitter words resounded through the hall. The archers draggedhim roughly up again, and he mildly answered, ‘If 1 havespoken evil. give testimony of the evil; but if well, whystrikest thou me?’”
Flashback: Jesus, as a young carpenter, is athome with Mary
During court scene, Mary prays, “It hasbegun Lord. So be it.”
After thrice denying Jesus, Peter runs to Mary,weeping and calling her, “Mother.”
Chapter 11, page 165
“Mary approached him instantly, and said,‘Simon, tell me, I entreat you, what is become of Jesus, mySon !’ These words pierced his very heart; he could not evenlook at her, but turned away, and again wrung his hands. Mary drewclose to him, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon,son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—‘Mother!’exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak notto me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express:speak not to me!’”
Mary walks about the now-emptied courtyard andthen falls with her face pressed to the floor, directly above thecell in which Jesus is imprisoned
Chapter 11, page 166
“John, therefore, led her and the holywomen to the front of the prison where Jesus was confined. Marywas with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her; but this lovingMother wished to hear with her own cars the voice of her DivineSon.”
Satan and his minions torment Judas
Chapter 5, page 144
“I beheld the traitor, JudasIscariot, wandering about, alone, and a prey to the tortures ofhis guilty con-science; he feared even his own shadow, and wasfollowed by many devils, who endeavored to turn his feelings ofremorse into black despair.”
An effeminate Herod is depicted amidst cushions
Chapter 20, page 194
“Herod wasexpecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heapedtogether so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall,and surrounded by courtiers and warriors.”
Chapter 20, page 195
“the luxurious and effeminate princeturned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to thepriests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, ‘Take himhence, and bring him not back into my presence in such adeplorable state.’”
Herod calls Jesus a fool and commands thatJesus be given a fool’s homage
Chapter 20, page 197
“But he spoke in the most contemptuousmanner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants whosurrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said:‘Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is hisdue; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.’”
The scourging scene is very similar to thatwritten by Emmerich. Jesus is scourged against a pillar in thecenter of a courtyard. The scourging culminates with the use ofchains with barbs that tear chunks off his back. Jesus is thenrotated so the soldiers can scourge the other side. Mary isprominent throughout the scene as if exhorting Jesus.
Chapter 22, page 206
“This pillar,placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serveto sustain any part of the building”
Chapter 22, page 206
“Jesustrembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took offhis garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody andswollen. The only return he made when his brutal executionersstruck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touchingmanner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who wasstanding overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: shefainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who werethere supported her.”
Chapter 22, page 208
“Twofresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who werebeginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains,or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone,and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas!could describe this terrible—this heartrending scene!
Thecruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated;they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turnedtowards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself inan upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under hisarms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly intothe rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, theyrecommenced scourging him”
Chapter23, page 211
“I SAW the Blessed Virgin in a continualecstasy during the time of the scourging of her Divine Son; shesaw and suffered with inexpressible love and grief all thetorments he was enduring.”
During the scourging scene, Mary says, “Myson, when, where, how will you choose to be delivered from this?”
Pilate’s wife hands white linens to Mary,who uses these to wipe Jesus’s blood from the floor
Chapter 23, page 211
“I saw ClaudiaProcles, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen tothe Mother of God.”
Chapter 25, page 218
“Then it was that the Mother of Jesus,accompanied by the holy women, approached the pillar and wiped upthe blood with which it and the ground around were saturated.”
Flashback: Mary Magdalene recalls Jesuspreventing her from being stoned and writing on the ground (thisis a misusage of John 8:1-11; the woman in this passage was nevernamed)
Jesus prays, “I am your servant and theson of your handmaid.”
Jesus falls multiple times while carrying thecross (These correspond to the 3rd, 7th, and9th Stations of the Cross. “The Stations of theCross are a popular Catholic devotion. Each of the fourteenstations stands for an event which occurred during Jesus’ Passionand death at Calvary on Good Friday. A person making the StationsOf The Cross is to meditate about each event depicted at eachstation, and pray.”
Mary meets Jesus while on the way to Golgotha(4th Station of the Cross)
“Then came her beloved Son. He was almostsinking under the heavy weight of his cross, and his head, stillcrowned with thorns, was drooping in agony on his shoulder. Hecast a look of compassion and sorrow upon his Mother, staggered,and fell for the second time upon his hands and knees. Mary wasperfectly agonised at this sight; she forgot all else; she sawneither soldiers nor executioners; she saw nothing but herdearly-loved Son; and, springing from the doorway into the midstof the group who were insulting and abusing him, she threw herselfon her knees by his side and embraced him. The only words I heardwere, ‘Beloved Son!’ and ‘Mother!’”
Flashback: Mary remembers a time when Jesus (asa child) fell and she came running with outstretched arms
The scene in which Simon of Cyrene is pressedinto service is very similar to that written by Emmerich. One ofSimon’s children is present. He is initially reluctant,exhibiting great disdain towards Jesus. Simon soon afterexperiences a change of heart.
“At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan,happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was agardener, just returning home after working in a garden near theeastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of loppedbranches. The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was apagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying hiscross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey,although his children, being frightened, cried and made a greatnoise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them.Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation atbeing obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition ofdirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenlylook upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing toshow reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executionersfastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walkedbehind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from itsweight”
Veronica wipes Jesus’s face (6thStation of the Cross; the cloth with the bloody face imprinted init is now a relic)
“Seraphiawas the name of the brave woman who thus dared to confront theenraged multitude; she was the wife of Sirach, one of thecouncillors belonging to the Temple, and was afterwards known bythe name of Veronica, which name was given from the words veraicon (true portrait), to commemorate her brave conduct on thisday.
Seraphia had prepared someexcellent aromatic wine, which she piously intended to present toour Lord to refresh him on his dolorous way to Calvary. She hadbeen standing in the street for some time, and at last went backinto the house to wait. She was, when I first saw her, envelopedin a long veil, and holding a little girl of nine years of agewhom she had adopted, by the hand; a large veil was likewisehanging on her arm, and the little girl endeavoured to hide thejar of wine when the procession approached. Those who weremarching at the head of the procession tried to push her back; butshe made her way through the mob, the soldiers, and the archers,reached Jesus, fell on her knees before him, and presented theveil, saying at the same time, ‘Permit me to wipe the faceof my Lord.’ Jesus took the veil in his left hand, wiped hisbleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Seraphia kissed it,and put it under her cloak. The girl then timidly offered thewine, but the brutal soldiers would not allow Jesus to drink it.”
The scene of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene is verysimilar to that written by Emmerich. Simon threatens to stophelping if the soldiers continue in their cruelty, saying that hewill do so even if the soldiers kill him. Simon then placesJesus’s arm across his shoulders, supporting him.
Chapter 35, page 243
“Their crueltyto Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed,‘If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down thecross and carry it no farther. I will do so if you kill me forit.’”
Chapter 35, page 244
“Jesus was on the point of again falling,but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand,hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus savedfrom falling to the ground.”
The scene in which Jesus is nailed to the crossis very similar to that written by Emmerich. After the first handis nailed, Jesus’ other arm is stretched out with asickening crunch to reach the hole provided for the nail. Thesoldiers also subject Jesus to more agony as they stretch his bodyout to the wooden footrest that they placed too low.
Chapter 38, page 250
“The BlessedVirgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguishher plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting fromgrief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When theexecutioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceivedthat his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored toreceive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, andhaving steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left handviolently until it reached the place prepared for it. Thisdreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breastheaved, and his legs were quite contracted.”
Chapter 38, page 251
“The executioners had fastened a piece ofwood at the lower part of the cross under where the feet of Jesuswould be nailed, that thus the weight of his body might not restupon the wounds of his hands, as also to prevent the bones of hisfeet from being broken when nailed to the cross. A hole had beenpierced in this wood to receive the nail when driven through hisfeet, and there was likewise a little hollow place for his heelsThese precautions were taken lest his wounds should be torn openby the weight of his body, and death ensue before he had sufferedall the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The wholebody of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by theviolent manner with which the executioners had stretched out hisarms, and his knees were bent up; they therefore flattened andtied them down tightly with cords; but soon perceiving that hisfeet did not reach the bit of wood which was placed for them torest upon, they became infuriated. Some of their number proposedmaking fresh holes for the nails which pierced his hands, as therewould be considerable difficulty in removing the bit of wood,but the others would do nothing of the sort, and continued tovociferate, ‘He will not stretch himself out, but we willhelp him;’ they accompanied these words with the mostfearful oaths and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to hisright leg, dragged it violently until it reached the wood, andthen tied it down as tightly as possible. The agony which Jesussuffered from this violent tension was indescribable; the words‘My God, my God,’ escaped his lips, and theexecutioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to thecross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They thenfastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored ahole through them with a species of piercer, because they couldnot be placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once.Next they took a very long nail and drove it completely throughboth feet into the cross below, which operation was more thanusually painful, on account of his body being so unnaturallystretched out”
As the cross is lifted up, Mary opens fists,releasing pebbles she had been holding (perhaps in a gesture ofsurrender)
Jesus is depicted as having long hair and beinggenerally pleasing to the eye
Chapter 41, page 257
“The complexion of our Lord was fair,like that of Mary, and slightly tinted with red; but his exposureto the weather during the last three years had tanned himconsiderably. His chest was wide, but not hairy like that of St.John Baptist; his shoulders broad, and his arms and thighs sinewy;his knees were strong and hardened, as is usually the case withthose who have either walked or knelt much, and his legs long,with very strong muscles; his feet were well formed, and his handsbeautiful, the fingers being long and tapering, and although notdelicate like those of a woman, still not resembling those of aman who had laboured hard. His neck was rather long, with awell-set and finely proportioned head; his forehead large andhigh; his face oval; his hair, which was far from thick, was of agolden brown colour, parted in the middle and falling over hisshoulders; his beard was not any great length, but pointed anddivided under the chin.”
Mary begs, “Flesh of my flesh, heart ofmy heart, my son, let me die with you.”
Chapter 43, page 259
“the Blessed Virgin, filled with intensefeelings of motherly love, entreated her Son to permit her to diewith him”
A soldier is showered by Jesus’ bloodafter piercing His side
Chapter 48, page 276
“He seized his lance and rode quickly upto the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just betweenthe cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking hislance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right sideof Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared onthe left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound aquantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over hisface and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhatsimilar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation atonce entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himselfupon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before allhis firm belief in the divinity of Jesus.”
Jesus’ body is lowered by the soliders and other men
Chapter 48, page 285
“Then Joseph and Nicodemus, having placedladders against the front of the Cross, in a very uprightposition, and close to the body, untied the upper strap, andfastened it to one of the hooks on the ladder; they did the samewith the two other straps, and passing them all on fromhook to hook, caused the sacred body to descend…”
Jesus’ body is lowered into Mary’sarms and the camera focuses on Mary in the “Pieta pose”before panning and fading out (this suggests Mary as aco-redeemer)
Chapter50, page 285
“Whenthe body was taken down it was wrapped in linen from the knees tothe waist, and then placed in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who,overwhelmed with sorrow and love, stretched them forth to receivetheir precious burden.”
Chapter 51, page 286
“THE Blessed Virgin seated herself upon alarge cloth spread on the ground, with her right knee,which was slightly raised, and her back resting against somemantles, rolled together so as to form a species of cushion. Noprecaution had been neglected which could in any way facilitate toher—the Mother of Sorrows—in her deep affliction ofsoul, the mournful but most sacred duty which she was about tofulfil in regard to the body of her beloved Son. The adorable headof Jesus rested upon Mary’s knee, and his body was stretchedupon a sheet. The Blessed Virgin was overwhelmed with sorrow andlove. Once more, and for the last time, did she hold in her armsthe body of her most beloved Son, to whom she had been unableto give any testimony of love during the long hours of hismartyrdom. And she gazed upon his wounds and fondly embraced hisblood-stained cheeks, whilst Magdalen pressed her face upon hisfeet.”
Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Read It Online 
I am indebted to a brother in Christ for doing much of the comparison between the movie and Emmerich’s book.
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.Revelation 22:18