Apparently, a much better rounded movie than Mel's was The Gospel of John (2003) ... look it up at www.imdb.com
... Curiously, this movie was produced by a Jewish Canadian guy, Garth Drabinsky.
Sorry for the long post, but some of you might enjoy this:
Gospel according to Garth
The film The Gospel of John offers a unique chance to understand Jesus's life , not just his violent final hours, says GARTH DRABINSKY
By GARTH DRABINSKY
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - Page A19
With the imminent opening of the film The Passion of The Christ, Jews and Christians are once again engaged in intensive debates and discussions about the Bible, the roots of anti-Semitism, and the role of Jesus in history. The popular culture dictates that this is a moment to attend to these debates. A variety of factors may be at play, including the religious orientation of the current White House. Certainly the press has fuelled the discussion. There is more coverage of religious subjects, and more correspondents with religion beats than ever before. Time and Newsweek magazines have for years had two religion covers each year. Most important, more people than ever are attending churches in the United States, a country founded on the basic precept of one nation under God.
As the producer of the film The Gospel of John, I am repeatedly being asked one question: Why did a Jewish producer make a film adaptation of this gospel of the New Testament? If, it is argued, the Gospels demonize the Jews as Christ-killers, what could possibly interest a Jewish producer in filming one of these Gospels?
As a faithful Jew, I am profoundly sensitive to the unfathomable suffering my people have endured over the centuries due to this canard. It is my belief that one way to heal deep-seated prejudices and conflicts is through enlightenment, communication and understanding. I would not have produced The Gospel of John unless I believed that it would contribute to such interfaith understanding.
Our film's eight-member advisory committee of leading scholars of theology and religion from throughout North America, including two Jewish members, shared this opinion, and, in fact, it was their unanimous recommendation that we produce The Gospel of John before any other book of the Bible, either Old or New Testament. (In the future, we plan to produce books on a word-for-word basis from the Old Testament as well.) Their recommendation preceded any knowledge of Mel Gibson's picture.
It is not unreasonable for Christians and non-Christians to engage in a dialogue regarding a greater understanding of the basic tenets of Christianity. Similarly, for years, Reform and Conservative Jews have welcomed a greater appreciation of the Jewish faith from the Christian world. How many non-Christians or even Christians fully understand or can distinguish the difference between the four Gospels? Or the way the character of Jesus is delineated so differently in each of the Gospels?
Our film provides an opportunity for an in-depth exploration. It has an easy-to-understand, relevant narrative with broad appeal. For us, it was a challenge to show a different portrait of Jesus, one that has almost never been seen by the film-going public. We knew, of course, that the Fourth Gospel contains anti-Jewish moments and various anti-Jewish depictions at the trial and Passion. Every Gospel has that. But a Jewish producer can perhaps bring a perspective and sensitivity and reverence to the depiction of the first century, different from the one that usually gets portrayed in sword-and-sandal epics.
Deeper interfaith understanding leads to less acrimony between religious groups. The endorsement of our film by the U.S. Anti-Defamation League confirms that. In today's tumultuous world, filled with religious tensions and strife, the ideas of John (who was a Jew) are profound, yet simple.
Ultimately, the point of the film can be expressed simply: Love one another. It may be more difficult for Jews to see that that is what most people take away from it. But after observing a great many people react to our work, I am convinced that is the dominant reaction among most people.
It was a coincidence that our film appeared shortly before The Passion of the Christ. Ultimately, I believe that its extreme violence may drive people away from The Passion of the Christ. You cannot put The Passion of the Christ in a child's Easter basket. We don't leave out the ministry and teaching of Jesus, which connects him to his Jewish environment, to concentrate just on the trial and Passion, which separates him from that environment. We rigorously connect Jesus's death to his message and life mission. Ours is not a Passion play based solely on the final 12 hours of Jesus's life.
In the end, it is Jewish-Christian dialogue, education and discussion that may help to reduce the historical hatreds. If blind hatred stems from ignorance, to the extent that our film promotes deeper interfaith understanding, it will have achieved one of its primary goals.
Garth H. Drabinsky is the producer of The Gospel of John, which premiered at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival.