Judas Iscariot was really, really torn about betraying Jesus and was just misunderstood, anyway. And Pontius Pilate? Well, he was just an honest, but beleaguered public servant who was just trying to please his wife. Both men were not really bad guys…. or at least that is how the BBC will present these characters in their newest re-imagining of the final days of Jesus Christ to air this Easter — an effort that comes on the heels of last year’s version of the Nativity that portrayed Mary and Joseph as illegal immigrants.

The producers, of course, are denying that they intend to re-write the character’s history, but they do admit that they are trying to portray Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate in a “more sympathetic light” causing Christians to cringe over the PC treatment.

Judas is portrayed as torn between his loyalties to Jesus and Caiaphas, who organised the plot to kill Jesus… Pilate, played by James Nesbitt, is shown struggling to manage his wife’s social aspirations and his career as he tried to”keep a lid” on tensions in Jerusalem.

The Pilate revision is interesting in that they are creating a story out of whole cloth. There is nothing in the Bible about Pilate’s wife causing him to send Jesus to the cross so that she might climb Jerusalem’s social ladder unless the BBC has found a version of that text others don’t seem to have access to.

Not only has the BBC mysteriously discovered new information about the two famous characters, but they have also put them on a psychiatrist’s couch and found the “motivations” for these historical men’s actions.

Nigel Stafford-Clark, who produced the BBC1 series, said he wanted to put the characters’ actions in context “so you can see it from their point of view and realise that what they did felt legitimate”.

Isn’t it amusing that ol’ Nigel can determine the “context” and “point of view” of people who have been dead for thousands of years and for whom we have but scant personal information as it is?

And in typical Hollywood-esque style, Frank Deasy, the series writer, has a “problem” with the traditional story-line and feels that he can improve… on the Bible!

“I’ve always had a problem with Judas in ‘Passion’ stories in that he suddenly and inexplicably betrays Jesus,” he said.”I was keen to develop a psychological reality to Judas’s portrayal.”

It might be more interesting to “develop a psychological reality” as to why these TV producers want to betray the actual text of the Bible? Why is it that these people feel the constant need to re-imagine the Bible is quite a deep topic, but it happens with nearly every movie project based on Biblical texts (shades of The Last Temptation of Christ, naturally.)

In any case, it certainly makes one fear the many thousands of Christians who will flood into the streets, burn cars, and cut off the heads of the non-believers over this issue… Oh, wait. That is the other religion that does that.

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