The period of speculation, worry, warnings, assurances and hype over The Passion of the Christ is coming to an end. The film is finished, and some audiences have seen it. An original soundtrack has replaced the music that supported early screenings of director Mel Gibson's rough drafts. The final cuts have been made. Here it comes, along with reviews.

While it's not the first mainstream magazine to offer an "early look" at the film, the story in the new issue of Newsweek is the flashiest and most ambitious to date. Critic Jon Meacham has seen the film twice, and carefully explains the moments that are causing the cries of anti-Semitism, noting the differing perspectives of Christian audiences and Jewish audiences. He also highlights which portions of the film are unsupported by Scripture. In conclusion, Meacham offers these thoughts:

Amid the clash over Gibson's film and the debates about the nature of God, whether you believe Jesus to be the savior of mankind or to have been an interesting first-century figure who left behind an inspiring moral philosophy, perhaps we can at least agree on this image of Jesus of Nazareth: confronted by violence, he chose peace; by hate, love; by sin, forgiveness—a powerful example for us all, whoever our gods may be.

The New York Times reports that Gibson has been igniting the fires of religious fervor for the film. "Gibson … has tried to stoke [religious leaders'] enthusiasm by screening it the past two months for at least 10,000 pastors and leaders of Christian ministries and media. Many emerged proclaiming it a searing, life-changing experience. Now those leaders are buying blocks of tickets, encouraging church members to invite their 'unsaved' friends and co-workers and producing television ...

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