Photo by Richard Foreman Jr./SMPSP/Courtesy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.
Possessed by the spirit of a renegade priest who has secretly translated Thomas, Frankie Paige (actress Patricia Arquette) writes several verses from the gospel on her bedroom wall. Although the gospel was probably originally written in Greek, in the film Paige is said to write in Aramaic, the language Jesus would have spoken. But when BR asked Aramaic expert Bruce Chilton to translate the words in this film still, he was stumped. The script, he noted, is not found in Aramaic texts from the turn of the millennium but seems to have been borrowed from much older Semitic inscriptions, such as the ninth-century Mesha stela. The three letters directly to the left of Arquette’s forehead, for example, appear to spell pelekh (district) in classical Hebrew, not Aramaic. But, as Chilton notes: “To judge from the expression on her face, she may not have been exercising her full linguistic competence.”