The Historical Accuracy Of Ben Hur

1797 Words Oct 4th, 2014 8 Pages
A Critical Analysis of The Historical Accuracy of Ben-Hur

The Roman Empire is Europe’s great creation myth. The great Mediterranean empire has left a great legacy of culture, language, conquest, art, and science in Europe and beyond. But everything decays with time, especially memory. Our archeological and historical understanding of the Roman Empire is limited. These gaps in knowledge, combined with popular misconceptions relating to culture, politics, race, technology, politics, and religion from the period, mean that any “period” piece is bound to be historically inaccurate.

The novel Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ was written in 1880, and became one of that century’s most popular books. The original Ben Hur film came out in 1925. The film Ben-Hur was released in 1959, more than 1900 years after the period that it is attempting to recreate. While the film does attempt accuracy, and in some cases, achieves it, Ben Hur is a very much a product of its time. (Lifson)

The subtitle in Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ is a fitting one. It is considered one of the classics of modern Christian literature and, in fact, it was the first book to be blessed by a sitting pope (Keyser 36). However, neither the book nor the film portrays an accurate view of religion at the time.

There are many discrepancies in the portrayal of Judaism, starting with its iconography. During his encounter with Sheik Ilderim presents Judah Ben-Hur with a Silver Star of David pendant. It is even called as much, and…
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