Littlest Library

I am a small town library director.

“Killing Jesus” has nothing to do with Life of Jesus studies. It is in fact almost a twin to Mel Gibson’s oh-so-authentic 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ.” Both are exhibitions of popular piety aimed at reinforcing believers’ faith and stilling their doubts by providing a real-seeming illusion about the myths and legends of the gospels. Their function is not dissimilar to that of the numerous End Times movies and novels like “Left Behind,” “Image of the Beast” and “A Distant Thunder.” Those fictions, whether on-screen or page (and “Killing Jesus” is already heading for the screen), help buttress faith in the ever-receding, always deferred Second Coming of Christ by depicting it in narrative form before the eyes of those who would really like to see the Rapture, the Great Tribulation and so on occurring on the evening news. They don’t. They can’t. So End Times fiction is the next best thing, a game of pretend. And that is just the role of “The Passion of the Christ” and “Killing Jesus.” The familiar Sunday school tales are dressed up in pseudo-documentary form to make the Christian reader feel confident that the legends are historical reports, not legends at all. It is all a trick, though Gibson, [Bill] O’Reilly and [Martin] Dugard are presumably tricking themselves as well.