The biopic genre requires that the hero confront hostility and opposition. The Gospels point to a bewildering array of Jewish groups who are hostile to Jesus: scribes, elders, chief priests, Herodians (Mark 3:6), Pharisees, and Sadducees. But during Jesus' ministry, it is the Pharisees who constitute Jesus' most implacable opposition. Were the Pharisees merely another long-gone 1st-century Jewish sect, their portrayal would pose no problem for filmmakers. While the Pharisees are no longer in existence as such, they are nevertheless considered within the Jewish tradition to be the forerunners of the rabbis who shaped Jewish belief and practice as they are still known today. The filmmaker's dilemma arises from this contradiction between the Pharisees' hateful role as Jesus' enemies within the Christian scriptures and their heroic place in Jewish tradition. The danger is that in portraying the Pharisees as Jesus' harsh enemies, filmmakers become vulnerable to the charge of anti-Semitism.
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