I grit my teeth as I read the press release, which begins with an ugly example of that kudzu vine of modern English, the dangling participle (yes, I'm an obnoxious grammar-policing snob; I'll readily admit that the curmudgeonly Eats, Shoots & Leaves is my favorite modern bestseller). But that doesn't lessen its impact:

"CENTURY CITY, Calif. Wednesday, September 1, 2004—Setting an industry record on its way to becoming the #1 selling drama of all time, #1 selling independent film of all time, #1 selling R-rated film of all time and #1 selling non-English language film of all time, consumers across America have purchased more than 4.1 million copies of Mel Gibson's epic The Passion of the Christ on DVD in just one day."

Again, I'm not sure how "consumers across America" can "become the #1 selling drama," etc. But this I do know: 2,000 years later, the imaginative power of Jesus' life and death still reverberates around the world—motivating, challenging, and best of all changing millions of people.

Apart from the stunning sales results of Gibson's movie, other signs show us that a new fascination with the details of Jesus' life and death is sweeping up not only the faithful but curious bystanders, as well.

This new interest in the person of Jesus has also spurred interest in his closest associates: Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, John the Baptist, Judas, Peter, James John, and others.

Several of these intimates of Jesus are now attracting a level of fascination, not to say speculation, unparalleled in recent history.

Protestant church historian Timothy George is among those who have reported recently that more and more Protestants (and others outside the Roman Catholic and Orthodox folds) are devoting new ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.