10 Reflections on the Risen Movie

Poster image of the excellent new movie, Risen.

Poster image of the excellent new movie, Risen.

Readers of this blog know my passion for talking and writing about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So it should come as no surprise that the Risen movie will garner attention here. I have already reviewed the novel and written a lengthy non-spoiler review for Answers in Genesis after twice viewing an advance copy.

I have now seen the movie in the theater and talked to many others who have seen it. I’ve mentioned before that the film has a few inaccuracies related to timing and location, but I didn’t want to give away any spoilers so my comments were somewhat generic. Now that others have seen it, I want to briefly discuss some of the minor inaccuracies as well as defend the film from some false allegations.

 

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SPOILER ALERT: If you read the rest of this post, you will read spoilers. You can read my non-spoiler review here.

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Claim #1: It should only show what the Bible mentions

While this may sound like a worthy objection, showing only what the Bible mentions would not necessarily make for a good film. This is not at all an attack on Scripture. The books of the Bible were written in certain genres, but “screenplay” was not one of them. There are certain ways to tell a story on the big screen, and as great as it would be to see the Bible come to life in that way, you would still have the same problem.

This objection really boils down to the person wanting to guard against the addition of extra-biblical details, but this is impossible to avoid if one is going to make a film about a biblical event. The look, sound, and dress of any character will necessarily be extra-biblical. This has led some people to claim that no film should ever be made about the Bible, but I believe that response neglects one of the most powerful tools we have today to reach people. In many ways, movies are the language of our culture, so why not use the medium to share the gospel?

Claim #2: The number of guards shown at the tomb is wrong

The movie shows two guards at the tomb. They were already tired from working a previous night, and one of them admits that they took turns sleeping that night. In reality, there were more than two guards. It may have been four soldiers, but more likely the word referred to a group of sixteen guards.

Matthew 28:11 states that “some of the guard” went into the city to report to the chief priests what had happened. The “some” referred to more than one guard, but obviously not all of them. So since at least one did not go into the city, we know there were more than two soldiers. So the film gets this point wrong, but they did an excellent job with the two soldiers that they had. One of the most dramatic scenes in the movie occurs when Clavius catches up with one of the soldiers in a tavern and the guard explains what he saw.

Claim #3: The stone was too far away from tomb

One of the complaints I have heard had to do with the location of the stone after the tomb was opened along with the condition of the ropes. The movie shows the stone moved about twenty feet or so away from the mouth of the tomb and lying down. The ropes are snapped rather than cut, and the wax seals melted. Is this really inaccurate?

My new 6-DVD curriculum on the Crucifixion and Resurrection is now available from my online store.

My new 6-DVD curriculum on the Crucifixion and Resurrection is now available from my online store.

The Bible simply does not give enough information one way or the other. The condition of the ropes makes good sense since it doesn’t seem as if an angel would need to cut the ropes. Who knows what would happen to the seals if an angel rolled away the stone? Also, the stone was rolled away according to Matthew 28:2, but it doesn’t say how far away. It also tells us that the angel sat on the stone, but he could have sat on an upright or horizontal stone. Nothing in the text precludes the way the movie depicts it, so this objection is really just a complaint because it doesn’t match one’s own preconceptions.

Claim #4: The Bible says a Roman wasn’t present at the post-Resurrection events

In the film, Clavius eventually finds the disciples, and he’s in for quite a shock. Jesus is sitting in their midst, and Thomas soon joins them. There are some inaccuracies with this scene. The movie shows it happening about four days after the Resurrection, but John 20:26 has it eight days later. John also tells us that Thomas was already present with the disciples and the room’s doors were shut when Jesus appeared in their midst. The movie has Thomas joining them after Jesus already appeared and the door is opened because Clavius had entered.

Does the Bible rule out the possibility of a Roman soldier seeing Jesus? Not at all. It doesn’t tell us specifically that He appeared to one, but it does tell us that He appeared to over 500 people at once. Maybe one or more were Roman soldiers. There probably was not a Roman at the appearance where Thomas saw Him (since the doors were shut), but it isn’t completely ruled out. The Bible also tells us in Acts 6:7 that a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. While it doesn’t tell us that Jesus appeared to them, it is not hard to think that some of them may have been witnesses. Simply put, the Bible does not rule out someone like Clavius being present for some appearances. The Bible doesn’t give complete details of many scenes so works of historical fiction like Risen can use the scenes and still be compatible with Scripture (if done properly).

Claim #5: Barabbas should not have been killed in the opening battle

The brief, but deadly battle outside Jerusalem at the beginning of the movie concludes with Clavius killing Barabbas. And since this is taking place on the day Jesus was crucified, it seems inconsistent since Barabbas would have been set free by Pilate that day.

Joseph Fiennes plays Clavius, seen here leading his troops into battle against some zealots.

Joseph Fiennes plays Clavius, seen here leading his troops into battle against some zealots.

The first two times I watched the film, I forgot to pay close attention to see if they said it was actually Barabbas that was killed in the scene because I knew how the novel had portrayed the scene. The third time I watched, I saw that the man was clearly supposed to be Barabbas. But this is not inconsistent. In fact, it actually makes a lot of sense and I appreciate the way the filmmakers did this. After being set free, it is not hard to imagine Barabbas quickly joining his fellow zealots, and perhaps some soldiers tailed him so that they could find the zealots, which leads to the encounter that is not mentioned in Scripture. Since the movie has the battle taking place while Jesus is on the Cross then there is no inconsistency here.

Claim #6: The location of the Ascension is wrong and they didn’t finish the scene

These claims are accurate. The movie definitely seems to portray the Ascension as being somewhere in Galilee rather than outside of Jerusalem at the Mt. of Olives. This was one of the timing/location errors I alluded to in my spoiler-free review, but I didn’t want to mention in that article that Clavius meets the risen Savior since that would spoil the “detective story” that dominates the first half of the movie.

Also, the film did not show the angels after the scene. This isn’t really an error as much as it is just incomplete. For example, no conservative Christian would say that the Apostle John made a mistake in his Gospel because he never mentioned that Peter walked on water too. John only mentions Jesus walking on water and then getting into the boat (John 6:15–21). This isn’t an error. It is the nature of historical reporting as certain details end up being skipped. Matthew 14:22–33 fills in the details for us. So it is not inaccurate for the film to end the scene before seeing angels. It would have been cool to see them, but maybe the filmmakers weren’t sure how to accurately depict them.

Claim #7: Mary Magdalene was depicted as a prostitute

This was another point I made in my non-spoiler review. It was unfortunate that the film portrays Mary as a former prostitute, since this popular view is not spelled out in Scripture. The error apparently dates back to AD 591 when Pope Gregory conflated the sinful woman of Luke 7 (traditionally thought to have been a prostitute) who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears with Mary Magdalene, who is first mentioned a few verses later (Luke 8:2).

Unfortunately, Mary Magdalene, though wonderfully played by Maria Botto, is shown as a prostitute, following a common stereotype.

Unfortunately, Mary Magdalene, though wonderfully played by Maria Botto, is shown as a prostitute, following a common stereotype.

Luke tells us that Jesus had cast seven demons from Mary Magdalene, and it is possible that she was a prostitute, but the Bible doesn’t tell us that.

It would have been nice for the film to break away from that stereotype. Also, the film is a little ambiguous about whether Mary was still involved in that lifestyle, and it definitely implies that she had been a prostitute shortly before the events of the film took place, since nearly all the soldiers in the barracks admit to knowing her. Yet Mary had been a faithful follower of Jesus for some time before these events. [Update on 10/10/16 – As Tom points out in the comment section below, Mary does tell Clavius that this was her “former life,” so the film is not really ambiguous about her no longer being involved in those activities. Thanks Tom!]

Claim #8: It puts words in the mouth of Jesus

There is no denying that the movie gives the character of Jesus lines that are not spoken in Scripture. This fact alone has made some people dislike the movie. While it is certainly a dangerous proposition to do something like this in a film, I think Risen handled this very carefully because they had him speaking very little, even though they had him in the film a fair amount. The real key to doing something like this is to make sure that the actor of Jesus does not say anything out of character with what the Son of God really did say. I can’t think of anything in the movie that would have been out of place (the next point will look at one example I have heard people cite).

Those who complain about this point need to be careful about making too much of this claim since it is very possible that they have done the same thing. Have they ever cited Christ’s words to the woman who was caught in adultery (“Go and sin no more”) in John 8? That passage is probably not original to John’s Gospel (see note before John 7:53 in most Bibles). Similarly, the Lord’s beloved lines from the Cross in Luke 23:34 (“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”) are not supported by the majority of the best manuscripts. He may have said these things, but if He did not, then isn’t it possible that people who cite these verses are putting words in His mouth?

Claim #9: It had Jesus saying something wrong or that He would probably never say

Another complaint is that the character of Jesus in the film allegedly said some wrong things. One example this person cited was that the film had Jesus say to the disciples that they should throw their net on the right side of the boat. The problem with this person’s claim is that this is exactly what Jesus said to them in John 21:6. The person was upset because he thought Jesus said to throw the net on the “other side” of the boat. Yet the film got it right and this person was mistaken. Even if the person were right, this would have been an extremely small matter to complain about, and it still may have been accurate since the right side of the boat may have been the other side of the boat.

My book on the Resurrection, In Defense of Easter, details the overwhelming evidence for the Resurrection and critiques the alternative theories concocted by skeptics and critics over the past 2000 years.

My book on the Resurrection, In Defense of Easter, details the overwhelming evidence for the Resurrection and critiques the alternative theories concocted by skeptics and critics over the past 2000 years. It is available here.

Another issue that was raised had to do with the Great Commission. At the Ascension, Jesus didn’t quote Matthew 28:18–20 so the film must have unnecessarily cut parts of the Great Commission. But the problem with this is that the film wasn’t quoting Matthew’s version of this command, which is alright since nothing in Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus spoke these words right before He ascended. If I remember correctly, the film seemed to combine elements of Mark 16 and Acts 1 for its version of the Great Commission.

A more serious matter had to do with the one scene where Clavius gets to speak privately with Jesus. One person told me that they didn’t like it at all that Jesus asked, “What does your heart tell you?” Even if that were a problem, it isn’t accurate. In the film, Clavius comes to Jesus at night and is obviously humbled by being in his presence. He says something like, “I don’t even know what to say” (it may have been “to ask” at the end). Jesus responded by saying, “Speak your heart.” There is simply nothing wrong with such a statement.

I understand the sensitivity some conservative Christians have about this matter because so much of the world tells people to “listen to your heart” or “follow your heart.” Yet, many Christians will say that the Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). While I think this verse is often yanked from its context, which contrasts righteous and wicked people, I do believe we all have a sinful nature. However, I think we need to have a biblical balance on this subject. After all, it was Jesus who said that “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). This point deserves an entire blog post, so I’ll reserve discussion of that for another time. But if Jesus can speak of a good man who brings good treasure out of his heart and that it is from the abundance of his heart that the mouth speaks, then it isn’t wrong to have the character of Jesus to tell Clavius to speak his heart.

Claim #10: It does not clearly present the gospel

This is an interesting charge against the film because in a sense, it is both right and wrong. Paul told the Corinthians that the gospel he preached was “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The film shows in great detail that Christ died, was buried, and rose again. It does not elaborate that His death was for our sins, although it stresses His innocence, and Pilate mentions that it seemed Jesus wanted to be sacrificed. The centurion at the Cross was profoundly affected by what he witnessed and told Clavius about Jesus saying, “It is finished.” I don’t recall the movie using the word sin at all. I’ll listen for that the next time I watch it. So while the concepts are there, I believe the point could have been made stronger. Also, Bartholomew tells Clavius that Christ’s Resurrection means eternal life for all who believe.

Some people have said that Jesus should have said more to Clavius. That He should have helped him understand his own sinfulness and then clearly spelled out the gospel. Yet, where do we see Jesus do this in Scripture? In our day, we think of the gospel message as being very formulaic and that everyone should respond in the same or very similar manner. But if you read the Gospels, you’ll see that Jesus made quite a few statements that don’t fit neatly into our formulas. The same is true with the way people respond to the gospel—their reactions don’t always match what we expect. Sometimes people ponder the truth of the message for months or even years as the Holy Spirit works on their heart and mind. At this point in the film, Clavius was clearly humbled. He knew his own sinfulness, confessing to being party to the Crucifixion itself. In the film, Jesus tells him that He knows that, and He shows that He knew the desire of Clavius’ heart (“a day without death”). In a short time, Clavius had gone from a pagan praying to Mars, the god of war, to realizing that the Hebrew God, Yahweh, was the true God and was sitting right next to him in the person of Jesus.

The film ends where it began, a small inn or tavern, and Clavius has just told the owner his whole tale that we see in the film. The man asks if Clavius really believes everything he just told him. Clavius responds, “I believe. I can never be the same.”

So the film never walks the viewer through a modern gospel presentation that goes something like this:

The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If you think about your life, you know that you’ve sinned against God—that you’ve violated His commands. That’s sin, and our sin separates us from God. The penalty for sin is death and judgment. We can’t earn God’s favor through good works. We need His forgiveness so that we can be reconciled to Him. Jesus died on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins; He paid our penalty, satisfying God’s wrath against sin, and then He rose from the dead. God forgives all who turn from their sins to Him in faith, trusting in what Christ did on the Cross for our sins.

We don’t see this sort of approach laid out in detail, but all of the elements are in the film. Furthermore, you won’t see this sort of approach clearly spelled out like this in Scripture, so why would we expect someone who is playing the role of a character in the first century AD lay out the gospel in the way many people do in 21st century America? I’m not saying those elements aren’t in the Bible. I’m simply pointing out that you won’t find Peter, Paul, or anyone else walking step-by-step through that type of approach.

Two More Brief Considerations

Despite what some people claim, this movie does not violate the second commandment (the law against making graven images and worshiping them). Actors are not graven images and people are not worshiping the film. And lest you think that the commandment forbade the Israelites from making any sort of graven image then you should read the description of the temple in 1 Kings 6.

The movie also gives a nod to the Shroud of Turin by showing an image of the Lord’s face on a long burial cloth. Some viewers may like this aspect while others will not. Regardless of what you believe about this cloth, the movie does not make it a major point of emphasis. And before you quickly dismiss it, as I had always done until about eight years ago, consider reading my post, The Ever-Intriguing Shroud of Turin, for more details.

Conclusion

While the film had some inaccuracies, I think some Christians have been overly critical of it. We are so used to Hollywood botching it when it comes to biblically themed movies that sometimes we are overly sensitive and overly critical of a movie that actually does an excellent job of being respectful to Scripture and the beliefs of Christians. Many of the criticisms of the film seem to be rooted in ignorance or pride: sometimes they are simply wrong and the film got it right, or the film depicted something in a way they didn’t like because they pictured it differently.

I’m afraid that it is too easy for some of us to bring a critical spirit to the table and blast anyone who doesn’t think about things in the exact same way that we do. I think we would all do better to approach these matters with some humility, check everything with Scripture (rather than our perception of what it actually says), and then treat fellow believers with some of the grace and patience God has shown us.

When it comes to this film, I would urge Christians to support it. It’s about time someone made a movie that handles the text as well as this one does and is as respectful toward Christian beliefs as Risen. Furthermore, the film spends nearly two hours focusing on the historical reality of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’ve been blessed all three times that I’ve watched it, and I’m confident I’ll see it a couple more times before it leaves theaters.

About Tim Chaffey

I am the founder of Midwest Apologetics and work as the Content Manager with the Attractions Division of Answers in Genesis. I have written (or co-authored) several books, including In Defense of Easter, God and Cancer, The Sons of God and the Nephilim, and The Truth Chronicles Series (see the publications page for more details). Please note: the opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of Answers in Genesis.

Comments

10 Reflections on the Risen Movie — 57 Comments

  1. Loved this film! Watching Clavius go through the physical transformation of tracking the body of Jesus (Yeshua, the Hebrew word for Jesus) to finding him, and at the same time, going through the same thing spiritually was truly an inspiration to Christians who have actually been there and done that!! The acting was great, the filming was great and the dialogue was great. The search for salvation has never been put in an easier way for people to grasp, and I hope that many others watch this movie to see it for themselves : )

  2. Incredible no one here inquired about who played the evil one?! I Googled to see cast members and no mention of the evil one who was leering at Jesus through the crowd while Jesus was being beaten and whipped and towards the end of the film who screamed in horror realizing Jesus won the battle over death. Was it actually an actress?

    • Hi VC,

      I believe you are commenting about Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. In that film, the devil was played by actress Rosalinda Celentano. I’ve read that Gibson wanted Satan to look androgynous so that he came across as neither male nor female.
      However, this blog post is about the 2016 film called Risen, which would explain why others haven’t brought this point up.

  3. The movie inspired me a lot, fortified my belief, was able to relate, to sometimes being a non-believer when things don’t go our way, our moments of spiritual-dryness. It made me move, to research about the Bible, read reviews about Clavius, the movie reviews itself,including this one. Good, inspiring movie, very relevant to an increasingly growing agnostic world we live in.

  4. “It puts words in the mouth of Jesus.” Technically, the Bible does too. It’s basically a friend quoting from memory something Jesus might have said years earlier, then translated into other languages. In this case, history isn’t a tape recorder but an idea remembered fondly.

    So anything in the Bible could be 100% accurate to what Jesus said, although it’s far more likely that it isn’t.

    • Hi Adam, your comparison isn’t quite accurate. The friend quoting Jesus from memory is still recalling what He said, whether he paraphrases it or quotes it verbatim. This is different than someone today writing what he or she thinks Jesus might have said in a given situation. As I mentioned in the post, I’m not opposed to this sort of artistic license, but it should be done very carefully.
      Another major difference is that conservative Christians (like me), believe that the biblical text was inspired by the Holy Spirit so that the writers were able to record Christ’s words without error.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. I really must say I really really liked the movie it did so many thing’s for me I can’t mention them all but the greatest thing I will say is that it made me do some research to see if that’s really how this or that happened or is this man mentioned in the Bible and I just missed it I know about the accounts of Jesus and have read them over and over again many times and it is one of my favorite things to read because of what he did for everyone for Me 🙂 I enjoyed this movie I will say I was a little skeptical to see this movie or any other movies about the Bible after I seen the movie Noah that was not a good movie I would like to be able to unseen that but i can’t lol but anyways back to Risen great movie….:) 🙂

  6. My most glaring objections, include:

    * Jesus was seen telling Peter that he would deny Jesus 3-times, AFTER, the Resurection.

    * ALL of the Apostles were seen WALKING ON WATER, again AFTER the Resurection.

    * Jesus MAGICALLY VANISHED from Nasarath to Galilee.

    I am NOT the best biblical scholar by far. But really, these are moments that could have been correctly presented, and; they were clearly NOT.

    • Hi Roger,
      I’m not sure where you saw those first two points in the movie. It shows Jesus restoring Peter by asking him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” as we read in John 21. The movie does not show the apostles walking on water. And it is very possible that Jesus did vanish from their sight (not from Nazareth, but Jerusalem). He seems to have done that after appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It isn’t that He did this “magically,” as if He needed some sort of spell or incantation. No, He would have done this miraculously. As the Creator, it would not be difficult for Him to vanish and reappear elsewhere (if that’s what happened).

      • My husband and I just finished watching this movie. We were shocked at how the actor playing Saint Peter just TOSSED the Body of Christ over to Clavius. The scene shows the actors celebrating what seems to be the first Mass. Saying the Lord’s Prayer, passing bread around to each other and each taking some of the bread. The institution of the Eucharist began at the Last Supper which means what Peter had “tossed” was in fact the Body Of Christ. . This movie is nul and void since it portrayes Saint Peter tossing the Body of Christ over his shoulder. We were so offended by that. We did not like the movie much before that scene. We were disgusted after that scene.

        • Sorry I have to correct myself…In the scene I was referring to…I said it is portrayed as the “First Mass”. I did not mean that the scene was portraying the Last Supper. I meant is was portraying the Apostles celebrating the Mass after the Resurrection. If the movie intends to be accurate, then the bread they are sharing is the Body of Christ. Which they show Peter tossing over his shoulder. A terrible scene.

          • Hi Chery,
            Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I can understand why a Roman Catholic would be troubled by this scene. As someone who does not believe in transubstantiation, it didn’t affect me the same way because I don’t believe the bread actually becomes the body of Christ, and I don’t think there is any indication in the Bible that the Apostles did either. This was one of the scenes in the film where the disciples were trying to figure things out. And to add to their confusion, a Gentile was in their presence, so that’s another complication they needed to work through in the film. It wasn’t until many years later that Peter would finally get the Gentile issue straightened out. With that being said, the filmmakers could have been more sensitive to a Catholic audience in this part of the film without changing much.

          • I am a Roman Catholic and we watched this film tonight, on a Saturday with my 4-year-old son. We are never ever able to watch any movie without interruption, and as a result miss details. I hardly noticed that the “Body” was haphazardly thrown over his shoulder. I was, however, moved that the director decided to to use that scene to show forgiveness of those that have hurt us. That is what I pointed out to my son. I think that is one of the most important lessons of our age. In reality, I wonder if the deciples would have even been in the habit at that point of respecting the bread.

  7. Jay, while certain aspects of the film may remind you of Saul’s story, it is not the account of Saul’s conversion. Saul(Paul) was, first of all, a Jew who had made it his goal to annihilate as many Christians as possible, with a letter of authorization from the chief priest in Jerusalem to do so. His quest was not to find Jesus’ body as he had no reason to. The character of Clavius, a Roman Gentile, set out to find the body of Jesus on orders from Pontius Pilate. God can certainly reveal Himself to anyone, regardless of his/her background, nationality, race, gender, or religious affiliation. Jesus revealed Himself to Paul in a dramatic way on the Damascus road and Paul came to faith in Jesus shortly thereafter. The way in which Jesus revealed Himself to Clavius was likewise dramatic in that Clavius saw and recognized the risen Christ for himself. His faith journey began there. I hope this helps answer your question.

  8. So basically they made this film based off an unarmed Roman Soldier in the Bible who killed Jesus, then had to find his body to prove to Pilot his death and in doing so became a believer. So this is fiction? Or any truth to this story of Clavius? Wether true or not I Loved the movie and somehow would love to believe that it might or could have happened. I’m sure somewhere along the way there are things that may have occurred that were never written by the disciples. Going off topic I have a hard time when people say that Christianity is the only true religion which means that that other religions such as Mormons, Muslims, Jeohovia Witness believers etc. are wrong?

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for reading. The story is historical fiction. They made up a character (Clavius) and stuck him in a historical setting. So he interacts with some historical people and encounters historical events, but Clavius is made up. There were certainly others beyond the ones named in the Bible who encountered the risen Lord and believed in Him. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that over 500 saw Christ at one time.
      Regarding your final question, the truth of the Resurrection shows us why those other religions are false. If God raised Jesus from the dead (and He did), then it shows that God approved of Jesus’ life and message. Well, what did Jesus claim about other religions? “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17–18). Jesus said that He is the only way to the Father. No amount of good works can merit God’s forgiveness—it is offered freely on the basis of what Jesus’ sacrificial death and subsequent Resurrection. These other religions either deny that Jesus died (Islam), or that His death was sufficient to pay our penalty and we have to work for our salvation (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others). It doesn’t mean that there aren’t nice, loving, and sincere people among these other religions, but it does mean that they need to hear the gospel of message that can set them free from their sin.

      • Thank you Tim!1st let say”I love this movie”.. I realized before I bought it that it WAS a historical fiction film. We as Christians never really get to see and understand a film of what MIGHT have happened after Jesus’s death and Resurrection. I was impressed at the concept not insulted. I am also impressed that they chose actor’s who looked and acted like just regular people instead of hiring the heartthrobs and best looking that Hollywood could supply.As far as the tossing the bread is concerned, the Diciple’s were mearly sharing their dinner with someone who probably hadn’t eaten for days. Jesus would have done the same for anyone. Sharing the fish to the Leppor for instance. They weren’t serving Communion. I think their portraits of the characters became more believable. It’s nice to see a story filmed more true to life itself. It’s more inspiring and refreshing to see Jesus and the eleven portrayed as humans on a quest. I’m not going to dive into the Bible to try and discredit the story because it IS A Fiction and well written account of what might have happened after the Resurrection. In short… CSI meets Jesus. The suspense was great! Aside from “Jesus of Nazareth”and “The Robe” I don’t think I have seen a movie like this one that has moved me more to increase my faith. I myself am Catholic but raised Prodestant so I grew up in both Faith’s, so you could say I was a Baptist but a believer in the Saints. The difference between “Risen” and “The Song of Bernadette” is Bernadette was an actual person.. “Clavious” IS a fictional character created based on a faith driven story of “What If…” It lays down the foundation of faith that all religions can embrace? ?

  9. I have wondered since I saw the first preview of the movie. Is the character of Clavius a fictionalized version of Saul (later Paul)? I know there are many missing elements of Scripture when it comes to the story portrayed in the movie. I just saw the turmoil in Clavius’ soul and it reminded me of the conversion of Paul. Thoughts?

    • Hi Jay,
      There may be some similarities between Clavius and Paul, but I don’t believe the movie intended him to be a fictionalized version of Paul. A huge difference would be their backgrounds. Clavius is a Roman prefect and Paul was a devout Pharisee. Clavius came to an understanding of the truth through investigation and was slowly coming around to it when he had his encounter. Paul was still breathing threats and murder against the church when he met Christ. That being said, I do wonder sometimes if Paul was one of the Pharisees or one of the guys sent by the Pharisees to question Jesus. It would be interesting to know if they ever crossed paths before that fateful day on the road to Damascus.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

  10. When Clavius says, “I believe” at the end of the movie, was there a period or just a pause? “I believe I can never be the same” is not the same thing as “I believe. I can never be the same.”, confirming belief in what he experienced.

    I wonder. Great article!

    • Hi Philip,
      Thanks for the kind words. I think the line was done in such a way that the viewer wouldn’t know if there was a period or not. There was definitely a pregnant pause. So he could have been saying that he believes he can never be the same after what he has witnessed, or maybe he was saying that he now believes, and as a result, he can never be the same. It would be interesting to see how the script had it.

  11. God is the creator of all things, I know many people wont like this but, why would you only think that God created us and thats it? Its like we can see the whole universe,but no other form of life isn’t that thinking small minded?? I feel like christains dont give God enough credit for his work….we can see stars with the naked eye. I feel like to say God only created us is to think small minded.Then why we have so many galaxies and planets. To say there is no other life is invalid. I cant think that small of God.

    • Hi Darrell,

      I’m not sure what this comment has to do with my reflections on the Risen movie, but I address some of your comments in an earlier post that can be read here: http://midwestapologetics.org/blog/?p=138.
      It isn’t small minded for Christians to assume that God did not make life elsewhere in the universe. It may be wrong to be dogmatic in that belief since the Bible does not definitively rule out the possibility, but there are several good arguments derived from Scripture to assume that He did not.

  12. Thank you very much for your thoughtful and reasoned approach to RISEN, Mr. Chaffey. I couldn’t agree with you more. I saw the film in theaters twice myself and am very supportive of its sincere efforts. Up until the final quarter of the film I found it to be intelligent and completely plausible. But even that last quarter was about as well done as it could’ve been if one was going to place Clavius in the midst of Christ and His disciples. I took away from it that the characters and dialogue were thoughtfully written and nearly each scene made logical sense. I could easily believe events unfolding very near as were depicted.

    It is, for the most part, a solid and good film of its type and deserves to be seen. Thus far, however, I know of only two people–myself being one of them–who have watched it. Frankly, if Christians do not support worthy cinema entries such as this, we deserve the lack of films and the typically offered tripe that we tend to receive.

    For my part, I’ve already pre-ordered the Blu-ray.

  13. I see, thanks for the response. After I watched the movie I searched for his name in the bible because I remember that the Bible only mentioned a roman soldier..anyways its a good movie
    An eye opener that there is really a God.
    And Jesus Christ is the Messiah our Lord and Savior. God bless!

  14. Hi, Marge!
    No, Clavius is not mentioned in the Bible. He is a character created for the film. The Bible does mention a Roman soldier standing near the cross and stating, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” He is unnamed, however & we are not told anything more about him. Hope this helps.

  15. I am worried ur spreading this okayness about the movie…its good enaf it portrayed the resurrection happened buuuuutttt try going with a non believer to see it and ull tell me. Yes Jesus did more but what is soo bad about displaying wat God left for us to read…every wad captired is LIFE…zoe!!not entertainment

    • Alijay,

      Who said there was anything wrong with displaying what Scripture says? I wouldn’t have any problem with that, and there are already films that do that (Matthew, Acts, and the Gospel of John come to mind). What I said is that the Bible wasn’t written as a screenplay, so in order to portray it on film you will necessarily take artistic license when figuring out what the characters looked and sounded like, what they wore, how they walked, what the settings looked like, etc.
      Just as there is nothing wrong with depicting the biblical account, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with creating historical fiction designed to teach truth. That’s what Risen attempts to do, and as I showed in this post, it doesn’t get every detail right, but they did an excellent job in so many other areas. I would say the movie is more than okay; I think it is excellent, and I think Christians should support it.

  16. Just saw “Risen” today. Not only entertaining, I am appreciative of the focus being from the perspective of a Roman tribune in a down to earth real life manner, one who is allowed to be skeptical. Do we not all question many things in life before we commit to believing in them? I think too often, conservatives hold beliefs to the very syllable of the Bible. Certainly with so many versions of the Bible out, we should keep open minds to interpretations. And, I think some fairly strange denominations have evolved over the years due to taking portions of scripture, and taking them too literally, although I admit that is judgmental on my part. So thank you for your review of this movie, and I agree with you Christians should support it. For me, I feel it is one of the best biblical themed movies I have experienced.

  17. AS I HAVE HEARD MY PASTOR SAY “YOU GO TO THE MOVIES FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND GO TO GOD’S WORD FOR THE TRUTH”. I go into a movie thinking beforehand that there are fictional ideas inside . Have learned no movie can stick as close to the Word, as the Word itself
    Thanks . I love to see movies about Jesus.

  18. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for your great work. This question does not relate to your post but I’m not sure where else I can ask a question. They have now found water on Mars, which could eventually lead to finding of life. What do you think that would mean, could it be use as the definitive proof of God’s inexistence? Thank you for your help,

    David

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for the kind words. The so-called discovery of water on Mars is a little overblown. What they noticed is that certain parts of the surface appear to be a little darker at times of the Martian year and they have interpreted that as a result of water moistening the soil there. Here is an article that my colleague, astronomer Danny Faulkner, wrote about this discovery: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/danny-faulkner/mars-water-much-ado-about-very-little/
      That being said, I think there is very strong evidence on the Martian landscape to suggest that it once had a good amount of water and some major flooding. There are canyons, complex gullies, and debris at the end of the channels that appear to have been carved by flowing water. Here’s a link to an excellent article on that evidence: https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/mars/mars-other-blue-planet/
      Many secular scientists have taken a huge leap of faith and proclaim that evidence of water means that life would evolve there as well. They do this anytime they find any hint that water may have been found. But the problem for them is that the existence of water does not guarantee life. Life is specially created by God, and no one will ever disprove that.

  19. Overall, I liked the movie. Of course, I didn’t like Mary Magdalene being labeled again as a prostitute, but that is so ingrained in so many people’s minds that it wasn’t surprising. A friend of mine said that the movie depicted her going back to the brothel after Jesus left. I definitely did NOT catch that. I remember the scene with her in the house with Jesus and the disciples when Clavius finds them. Can you clear this up for me since you have seen it three times? Thanks

    • Hi Tina,
      The film was a bit ambiguous about what she was currently doing. Obviously, the scene at the barracks made it seem like she had been a prostitute relatively close to the time of the events in the film, since many of the soldiers knew who she was. Right after that scene, the soldiers are waiting for her outside of some establishment. I’m not sure it would be right to call it a brothel since you see a man leave the place with a woman. Then Mary enters the place and that’s when the soldiers break in to capture her. We only see the inside of the place for a few seconds as she runs through it and then out a window. But it looks more like some sort of tavern or place to eat. There are a couple of giant bowls full of some food and you see people getting up from tables. So I’m not completely sure what the place was supposed to be. I do wish they would have been clearer about her current state at the time by making it very clear that her life had been transformed by Jesus instead of leaving open the idea that one can just keep on living the same way after believing in Christ. There is no question in the film that she genuinely believed, but they just could have done a better job with her character.

      • Tim,
        When Clavius is first questioning Mary, he comments that he has seen her before, to which see replies, “My previous life”. He shakes his head no, and says he saw her at the crucifixion with the Nazarene’s mother. So the film does make it clear that if she was a prostitute, she is one no longer.

        • Hi Tom,
          Thank you for catching that. I just watched that part again, and you’re right, she does make mention of prostitution being her “former life.” I still wish they would have given her a different background, but I’m glad to see that they do depict that she was no longer living that way.

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  21. Thank you for an intelligent and gracious response to some unfounded concerns.Biblical accuracy IS important, with so many not knowing what’s really in the bible. I don’t understand why films give wrong details (there were more soldiers guarding the tomb),etc.
    It’s sad that so many are “straining at gnats and swallowing a camel”!John said that all the books in the world couldn’t contain all that Jesus did.The heart and love of God reaching people who may feel too shamed or burned to set foot in a church, but can start by safely seeing a movie, is what matters.Look at the fruit–touching people with the truth of Jesus’s love and rising again to offer new life.
    This movie respectfully portrays an accessible, personal Jesus that many would love to get to know. The film-makers stayed within a realistic, respectful boundary of what could have happened, with few minor exceptions(Peter may not have accepted a gentile roman so easily!).We should be thrilled that enough people caught a vision to make a well done (not cheap or cheesy/preachy), realistic case for Christ’s rising and how personally loving, forgiving and open He is, and in a respectful way,not distorting words/views of God and faith as some poor productions have done.
    Sorry that some Christians are putting “law” above love and mercy.They cross a line and act like pharisees.KEEP biblical accuracy, but rejoice that God’s love can reach many through such a magnificent film. God loves and touches with grace and truth–and grace comes first.
    We were deeply touched and have seen it 2x.We caught more things the second time.Please support such a worthy movie.

  22. I saw the movie and liked it for the most part. It allows us to dialogue on discipleship with Christ. I thought the casting was lacking, down right wrong. Very few women and no Blacks? This was an obvious flaw was that there were no Blacks in the film at all (other than a Roman servant). Many, all of Jesus disciples were dark skinned looking almost like many Rastafarians.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the movie, but your claims about the problems in the movie are very far from the mark. The reason the film didn’t show many women is because it was told from the perspective of the Roman tribune, Clavius, and since he didn’t meet the other women, then we don’t see them. Jesus and His disciples were not black, and they weren’t Caucasian either. They were Middle Eastern Jews, so they likely had a skin shade very similar to the actor who played Jesus in the film.

    • Hi, I mostly agree on your comment. I would like add that there is speculation that Jesus was black or at least middle-eastern. But we have been printed over the generations,deceived by when we think of Jesus, we see him as a white person. It’s clearly an example of engineering history.

      • No, it’s not clearly an example of engineering history. It’s an example of people tending to think of people in the past as being like them. There doesn’t have to be some sinister revisionism going on when someone writes or paints history. Yet, there is some revisionist history going on today by those who try to go too far in the other direction claiming Jesus was black, just for the sake of pushing an agenda. So Caucasian artists in the West have tended to portray Jesus as being Caucasian, but He wasn’t. As I mentioned above, He is a Jewish man and probably had a complexion very similar to the actor who played Him in this film. For the record, Cliff Curtis (the actor who played Jesus) is of Maori descent—he is not Caucasian.

  23. By saying, “Speak your heart,” to Clavius, doesn’t Jesus mean something like, “just tell Me what’s on your heart, don’t worry about having the right words”?

  24. My thanks, also, for addressing concerns of Christians about “Risen”. I saw it yesterday and really liked it. I hope it comes out on DVD so I can catch some of the dialogue I missed due to low volume, actors’ voices, plus my own hearing difficulties. I particularly would like to know all of the conversation between Clavius and Jesus, as I was discussing with a church friend about which point Clavius becomes a believer in Y’shua. In the film, it is a long process for him to come to faith & it’s not until the end where the man asks him if he believes and Clavius answers that he does and that he’ll never be the same. Thank you, also, for pointing out that making a film about Jesus does not violate the 2nd commandment about graven images. Apparently, this is more of an issue for some believers than for others. I once heard an entire 30-minute radio program on the evils of making films & other images of Jesus.

  25. just saw the film….ive been a Christian for 35 yrs and this for sure make us realize why we believe as the films own word ” this is why ” great film I support it

  26. My wife and daughters and I are planning to go tomorrow afternoon and take along an open-minded but as of yet, it seems, non-believing friend. We are hoping for a productive experience!

    • Bill, I just prayed for your friend to seek the Truth & for this to be an opportunity for open conversation about faith between your family & your friend. God promises that when we seek Him with all our heart, that we will find Him. Please let us know how it turns out.

  27. I love this movie. I went by myself , on purpose, to see it on the 1st
    year anniversary of my precious son, 38 at the time, February 24, 2015, who took his life. Devastating me, his older brother and sister , father, grandmother and many other family members and friends. The movie “Risen”, helped me get through the day, Jesis being the first to reassure me,of course, that the Lord Jesus Christ has a place for my Marc in Heaven that He had prepared just for him on that fateful day a year ago. I will be going back to see it again taking my family with me.

  28. I saw the movie knowing that it wasn’t bible based, but i was curious as to what others would think of the surroundings of the story I for one was very surprised that I accepted as a real complement of it! Overall a good perspective of what could have happened! Thanks.

  29. Thank you for a very good write-up on the concerns of Christian viewers. However, I was surprised you did not address the point of one of the two soldiers at the tomb bringing in a flask of wine or some sort of alcohol to drink. Although it did not show them drunk, clearly their intent was to drink and later he confessed to it. This point could leave some questioning the authenticity of their report of what they saw when the stone was rolled the way. Pretty major. Overall though, I really lked this movie and highly recommend it.

    • Hi Marilyn,
      Thanks for bringing up the point about the two soldiers. While I don’t think it would be unheard of for a soldier to sneak some wine for night duties, I do think that the movie probably overdid it for these two. It fits their story nicely, but since there would have been more than two guards in the first place, this wouldn’t have become an issue.

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