Perhaps the most influential story in all of history begins with an arrest, and the declaration “I am he.” So begins the story of the death of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as “The Passion.” The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all recount his final hours. The story of his betrayal by Judas, the public condemnation, his flogging at the hands of Roman soldiers, and finally his crucifixion — these each have been the stuff of dramatic re-enactment for centuries.
From church productions on Good Friday to the infamous “Oberammergau” in Europe, passion plays have served not just as testimonies to one man’s suffering, but also as incitements for anti-semitic violence.
Philip Cunningham, Adjunct Professor of Theology and Executive Director for the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College
James Shapiro, Professor of English at Columbia University and author of “Oberammergau: The Troubling Story of the World’s Most Famous Passion Play.”