The Oberammergau Passion Play
Posted: May 11, 2010
Since the late 1970s, the Anti-Defamation League has been very critical of the script, which projected a theological anti-Judaism, and anti-Semitic portrayals of Jews.
Since the 1980s, ADL has been working together with noted Catholic scholars in recommending to Oberammergau authorities specific changes to the script and presentation of Jewish characters.
It has been a slow process of reconsideration by the organizers of the Passion Play. It must be noted that we were not requesting any changes to the text of the New Testament itself, which is a sacred one, but to avoid any presentation that might project anti-Judaism or anti-Semitism.
In October 2009, ADL participated in intensive meetings in Oberammergau with the play's producer, director and theological advisor to discuss the latest versions of the script and its stage presentation, which includes costuming, set designs and music.
What is of serious concern in the 2010 production is that it continues to transmit - in word and image - noxious and hostile anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism. The Jewish High Priest Caiaphas is portrayed as a vicious bloodthirsty leader who oversees a hostile Jewish mob in repeatedly calling demanding the crucifixion of Jesus. Stage sets can be seen as insulting to the Hebrew Bible.
The 2010 play continues to feature anti-Jewish theological concepts that have been the basis for religious persecution of Jews by Christians for two thousand years. One such concept is known as supersessionism – the centuries old Christian belief that Christianity has replaced the Jewish people as God's chosen community and that God's covenant with Jews is obsolete. Since the mid-20th Century some Christian churches have repudiated supersessionism as being inconsistent with Scripture.
ADL is currently collaborating on a scholarly analysis of the 2010 screenplay with the Council of Centers on Jewish Christian Relations, the nation's leading association of educational centers and institutes, which is devoted enhancing mutual understanding between Jews and Christians.