Passionate Debate Between 'Two Catholic Guys'

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 15, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

Watch The O'Reilly Factor weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the Radio Factor!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight, "The Passion of the Christ" was again the number one earning movie in the country. It has grossed more than $265 million in the USA, making it one of the most successful films of all time. But the controversy continues to rage.

Joining us now from Los Angeles is Academy Award-winning actor, Jon Voight, a Catholic, who says he is troubled by the film.

Now this is just a conversation between two Catholic guys, you and me. You're a little bit older than I am...

JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: That's right.

O'REILLY: ... and raised in a little bit of -- but you look better, so it doesn't matter -- and raised in a little bit of a different time.

But, look, I went in, I saw the movie, and the movie, to me, was a fairly faithful adaptation of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I didn't have any problem with it. I didn't think it was anti-Semitic. I thought it was too violent, and I told everybody I can't recommend it because it was too violent. But I am -- I continue to be very distressed by the accusations against Gibson.

How do you see it?

VOIGHT: Well, let me say -- you say it's an accurate representation of the gospels, and I -- let me tell you something that isn't in the gospels, Bill.

There's a scene where the priest from the temple with the temple guards beat Jesus to within an inch of his life, cover his head with a bag, throw him over a bridge, pull him back on chains, almost break him in half, and there are devils or demonic figures lurking, smiling, jeering under the bridge. That is not in the gospels.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, wait. Wait.

VOIGHT: It's not in the...

O'REILLY: Let's walk through it here.

VOIGHT: It's not in the gospels.

Let me -- let me finish the next one. There's a scene where two little Jewish boys are throwing rocks at Judas, and they turn into devils. Not in the gospel.

O'REILLY: OK, but what you're doing ... I should have amended it. I should have amended it. He interjects two things that aren't in the gospel and I said mostly faithful. He's got...

VOIGHT: No, there are more than that. So I was going to do more than that.

O'REILLY: All right. Wait, wait, wait. He's got -- he's got the presence of Satan, and he introduces it in the first scene.

VOIGHT: In -- several times.

O'REILLY: Right. And the presence of Satan is an artistic device that shows you it's good verse evil. But he also makes Simon of Cyrene a Jew, expands his role in a heroic way. So there's a tradeoff.

Now there are a lot of historians who say there ... wasn't a rivalry between the Sanhedrin and the Jewish temple authorities and Jesus. Now you can't possibly believe that because it's absolutely from Tacitus to Josephus to the -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it -- there was a rivalry, and everybody would know why. If you go in and say I'm going to burn the temple down and rise it up in three days, that's blasphemy.

VOIGHT: Listen, the historic context is very distorted in this. There is no historic context in the film. There is no base on which he tells the story so that you know the different levels of the Jewish society at that time.

But there -- but there is a mixing of all the gospels. He chooses a piece from here, a piece from there, and he mixes them together with what purpose? To minimize the responsibility of the Romans in the crucifixion of Jesus and to point the finger at the Jews.

O'REILLY: See, I didn't see it that way.

VOIGHT: This is -- this is why "The Passion" plays over the centuries have been so -- such waves of anti-Semitism have proceeded from it, because they...

O'REILLY: "The Passion" plays over the centuries came flat out and said the Jews killed Jesus.

Now this movie shows the rivalry and the initial prosecution was by temple authorities, and that's in every gospel. And then it turns it over to Pilate and his thugs, and they are the ones that work Jesus over.

Now I'm sitting there, and I'm going, you know, look, I understand...

VOIGHT: There's a line in the piece where the -- Pilate says to his wife -- he says I'm afraid of a riot being caused by Ciaphas, led by Ciaphas, which is completely out of the question because Ciaphas was under the foot of the Romans. He -- all he wanted to do was make peace with the Romans.

O'REILLY: There were insurrections all the time back then, Mr. Voight, and...

VOIGHT: That's right, and there were...

O'REILLY: ... there were crucifixions of Jews all over the place who...

VOIGHT: That's exactly right, and Pilate...

O'REILLY: Right.

VOIGHT: ... and Pilate was responsible for a good bunch of them.

O'REILLY: You bet.

VOIGHT: Thousands.

O'REILLY: You bet, but in the gospels...

VOIGHT: He was not -- he was not a benign force.

O'REILLY: He wasn't. But in the gospels, Pilate's wife comes and says ... have nothing to do with this man, I had a dream. See, I don't -- I understand how Jewish people are uneasy with this because they don't want to revisit the terrible things that happened to them at the hands of Christians.

VOIGHT: You bet.

O'REILLY: But I don't think you condemn a man for putting his vision of the gospel on the screen that says good triumphs over evil. I'll give you the last word.

VOIGHT: I have the last word? Jesus was a Jew, he died a Jew, the last words on his lips were from Psalms, and why are we continuing to find ways to persecute his brethren?

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Voight, thanks very much. We appreciate your point of view.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.