passion of Christ

passion of Christ


I will be addressing the passion of Christ Christian movie. Traditionally, sociology focused on social stratification, religious beliefs, law, and violation of cultural norms, sexual receptivity and social grouping. All these factors were considered in the setting of the film ‘the passion of Christ’ which featured the last moments of Jesus Christ before His death (Denton-Borhaug, 2016).  The film incorporates all this concepts in an effort to explain the Jewish mode of life. It answers the questions to how Jews relate with others, their traditions, their cultures, their laws and the general way of life. The film is set in a period where the Roman empire had taken over Jerusalem and the Jews were under the jurisdiction of Rome. The actions of this period pose a great significance to modern Christianity and clear understanding of the Jewish society.

Overview of the Passion of Christ

The film the passion of Christ depicts the final twelve hours of Jesus Christ. The film begins as Jesus prays in the garden of Gethsemane after the last supper. After being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, He is arrested and taken to the Pharisees for performing miracles and announcing He is Gods son. The Pharisees are not thrilled by the miracles He performs, His claims and the fact that He promises to rebuild the temple in three days. The trial ends with the Pharisees condemning Jesus to death. Jesus is taken to Pontius Pilate who was the governor for the territory of Judea. Pilate listens to the accusations leveled against Jesus: examines and questions Jesus but finds no fault on Him. To avoid a controversial uprising and political feuds, he refers the case to king Herod who also finds no fault. Jesus is then taken back to Pilate for His sentencing (Denton-Borhaug, 2016). Pilate gives the crowd a choice to choose between which prisoners they prefer set free; Barabbas or Jesus. The crowd hails and chooses Barabbas the criminal who is set free. Jesus is given to the Roman soldiers who brutally whip and scold Him. He is punished severely to an unrecognizable bloody state and crowned with thorns. Pilate later presents Him to the crowd with the thought that the punishment would be over. The angry crowd demands for His death through crucifixion which Pilate is forced to adhere to. As a sign of not involving in the condemnation, Pilate washes his hands and hands over Jesus to the soldiers for crucifixion. Jesus Christ is forced to carry a heavy cross through the streets of Jerusalem at His weakest point where He is constantly whipped and brutalized by the Roman soldiers and crowds. After a long brutal punishment through Jerusalem, He reaches Golgotha. Jesus is painfully nailed to the cross together with two others on His side. After a few painful hours on the cross, He dies. His death is followed by darkness and a heavy earthquake (Flannery-Dailey, 2016). At the end of the film, Jesus is taken down the cross and buried but He rises again and leaves the tomb.

Sociological concept application

In the film the passion of Christ, various sociological concepts can be identified. They include social stratification, customs, law, sexuality, religious beliefs and deviation.

Social stratification

Social stratification refers to the formation or creation of groups in society based on income, status, tribe and influence.

Influence:  In the film, social stratification can be identified by the influence the Pharisees have on the people. They managed to convince the people that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy and thus was liable to death. They also were able to persuade Pilate to punish Jesus and condemn Him to death or else it would seem a political weakness liable to a revolt or an uprising (Denton-Borhaug, 2016). They were able to put Pilate into a dilemma where he could not release Jesus easily despite His innocence.

Tribe: In the film, the Roman empire had taken over the Judean territory and was the one managing and leading the region. All the taxes were given to Caesar and no judgment had to go unforeseen by the Romans. The Romans were considered more superior than the Jew commoners. The judgment of Jesus had to go through Pilate the delegated leader for this region. Only Pilate could allow the punishment and death of Jesus Christ.

Status: Status is seen in the mode of dressing of the Romans, shelter and their military. In the film, Romans lived in lavish buildings while the Jews lived in suburbs. They also had a very strong military used to combat uprisings and bring down rebellions in the territory. In the film, the wife to Pilate is dressed in a white sleek linen signifying royalty while the Jewish women were in dark linens and robes signifying inferiority. Status is also observes in the case of the Pharisees .They had their own soldiers who were sent to capture and arrest Jesus (Flannery-Dailey, 2016). They were also in charge of all religious ceremonies and resided in very lavish shelters that gave them a class in society.


Customs refer to an accepted way of life embraced and practiced by members of a certain group in the community. In the film, Jesus is accused of performing miracles during the Sabbath. The Sabbath day is part of the Jewish custom. The Jews traditionally observed the Sabbath by resting and negating from any activities. The fact that Jesus performed miracles and helped the needy during this special day generated a lot of resentment from the Pharisees. It is also seen customary for the Romans to release one criminal during the Sabbath. Pilate gave the Jews to choose between Jesus and Barabbas, but the crowd ended choosing Barabbas (Denton-Borhaug, 2016).


Refers to a set of rules laid down by an authority that regulates and monitors the activities of the subjects. Any subjects who go against it are liable to punishment through detainment. In accordance to the film, the law stated that all the members were obligated to pay taxes to the Roman Empire which was accountable to punishment if not accomplished. According to the Jewish law, all members were to refrain from blasphemy as this was overseen by the Pharisees. All members who failed to observe this were condemned to death.


Deviation is also a concept of sociology that emphasizes on an activity that goes against the social norms and laws laid down in a society. In the passion of Christ, Jesus goes against the cultural norms of the Jews. He does this by performing miracles during the Sabbath day and also by claiming to be the son of God. In accordance to the Jewish religion, this amounts to blasphemy (Flannery-Dailey, 2016). The film also features a prostitute who is almost stoned by the crowd for her sinful acts. Jesus steps in to save and redeem her before any of the people could inflict harm on her. In the Jewish custom, prostitutes were condemned to death through stoning. The act shows the deviation of Christ from the normal customs of the Jews.

Religious beliefs

At the end of the film when Jesus dies, the veil in the temple tears into two pieces. The veil in the temple had some religious significance as it separated God from the rest of people in the temple. Only the holy people were permitted to go beyond it . Its tearing meant the death of Jesus joined God together with His people.


Sexuality refers to distinction of individuals in society through gender. In the film, the men are given more authority over the women. For instance, the governor is a man and the Pharisees are all men. All the important decisions are made by the men. Women only feature in the sorrowful moments crying for Jesus or shouting in the crowds (Denton-Borhaug, 2016). The wife to Pilate features as an adviser to her husband but cannot change her husband’s decision. She only watches from far as her husband hands over Jesus to the Jews.


The passion of the Christ brings out the Jewish social institution as it related with the Roman empire. The film tries to explain how the Jewish actions have shaped and molded the modern Christian culture. Reviewing the passion of Christ on a sociological perspective gives a clear understanding to the way of life of the Jewish people. It tells us how they dressed, how they divided themselves into classes, how they developed their cultures, how they initiated and monitored their laws, how they treated opposite genders, what religious symbols they used and how they relate with other tribes.

Bottom of For


Denton-Borhaug, K. (2016). A Bloodthirsty Salvation: Behind the Popular Polarized Reaction to Gibson’s The Passion. Journal of Religion & Film, 9(1), 10.

Flannery-Dailey, F. (2016). Biblical Scholarship and the Passion Surrounding The Passion of the Christ. Journal of Religion & Film, 8(1), 10.

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