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[Newsday, March 7, 2004]
"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" asks the old Gospel hymn.
Mel Gibson's powerful film, "The Passion of the Christ," has brought many viewers "there," and I rejoice with those who say it deepened their faith. I can understand why this film moves them so much.
But I don't think they understand why a fellow-believer might prefer a different approach. It seems to them that any less-than-graphic portrayal is weak - "sanitized."
But is that the only way to see it? Here, for example, are two paintings made early in the 17th century. The one with the golden background represents the Eastern Christian tradition, and is by the iconographer Emmanuel Lambardos of Crete. The other, emblematic of Mel Gibson's Western tradition, is by the Dutch painter Hendrick ter Brugghen.