Re-consecrating Jesus: Pasolini's The Gospel According to Saint Matthew and the Hermeneutics of Tradition

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    Abstract

    A key task in theological reflection on film is to emphasize its place within tradition – that it is a viable medium of representing and interpreting the Christian story. Since the birth of cinema, directors have given viewers contrasting images of Jesus and the Gospels. They have added to, re-orientated, and indeed transformed our ways of reflecting on the Christian tradition and its sources of expression. Film, then, is a central moment in Christianity's dialogue with the visual arts. It is not a commentary or peripheral accompaniment to the Gospel story but a mode of interpretation and representation in itself. This article explores the role of tradition in the Jesus film through Pier Paolo Pasolini's "re-consecration" technique in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. His interpretation of Matthew, influenced by both Marxist theory and centuries of Christian art, situated the story of Jesus in the austere, poverty stricken villages of southern Italy in the 1960s. Despite his apparent unease with Italian Catholic culture, he succeeded in crafting a film that was not only acceptable to Christian viewers, but a significant development in the Jesus film genre. Using the hermeneutics of Gadamer, this article offers a theological reflection on the role of tradition in the Jesus film through the lens of Pasolini's work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-53
    JournalMaynooth Theological Journal
    Volume1
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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