In The Body, a thirty-something male skeleton which bears the markings of crucifixion is found in a tomb the right age in an archaeological site in Israel. Speculation immediately starts as to whether these remains constitute evidence that Christianity as it is preached is a fraud, or simply that strange coincidences abound. In any case, the characteristics of the skeleton and the tomb have the potential to challenge the very foundation of one of the world’s core religions. The speculative outcome concerning the implications of the discovery are what The Body portrays.
It is to this end that the Vatican sends to the site a Central American Hispanic Jesuit priest (played by Antonio Banderas) with a seemingly unlikely background in military intelligence and guerrilla warfare to investigate the facts of the case and to engage in spin control. He gets room and board at a monastery in the area for the duration of his visit. It is there he makes the acquaintance of a drunken, long-haired, and Byronic-clothed Irish priest who long ago lost his faith, and an ascetic archeologist-priest who is driven to madness and then suicide before all the facts are in by archeological findings which seemingly contradict the faith on which he has built his life and career.
His opposite number and working colleague in the situation is a female archeologist whose point of view on the findings represents the scientific ethos and secular humanist point of view.
The sometimes strained relationship between them is the dialogue between science and faith, and what it all means, personified and writ large. Though they start off at cross purposes, they develop a unity of purpose, and become closer. In fact, at one point, they become close enough to threaten Fr. Gutierrez’s vow of celibacy.
Both must contend with outside forces which seek to use the find for their own agendas: the Israeli government, the organized religions, and a group of Palestinians who want to Shanghai the remains and effectively use the ultimate hostage bargaining chip should the Catholic Church decide to support Israel in keeping Jerusalem out of Palestinian hands. All groups have the potential to seem to be hiding the possible truth in an insidious way.
Orthodox Jews who form gangs, stone archeological workers, and vandalize dig sites are a lesser-known but true phenomenon in this part of the world. Determined to prevent others from disturbing the dead, their actions make the situation worse for all of the other groups who have a dog in this fight.

Questions and answers for further thought:

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply