Killing Jesus and La Biblia set new ratings records

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Two Bible-themed shows did pretty well in the ratings these last few days.

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Cornelius and Caligula: biblical and secular history come together in two shows called A.D.

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One of the things I have always loved about the 1985 miniseries A.D.: Anno Domini is the way it links the conversion of Cornelius, a Roman centurion who became the first Gentile Christian, to Caligula’s efforts to have a statue of himself placed inside the Jerusalem temple. In this telling, Cornelius reacts to the insanity of Caligula’s decree by abandoning paganism altogether, while Peter and the other Christians argue over whether they, as Jews, should still regard the temple as “theirs” in some sense. Caligula’s plans to desecrate the temple, which we know about from writers such as Philo and Josephus, provoke a number of identity crises that are so interesting, you begin to wonder why the book of Acts itself never mentions this episode.

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A deleted scene from The Bible surfaces in tonight’s Women of the Bible special on the Lifetime network

bible-marymagdaleneI had a chance to watch The Women of the Bible, the two-hour Lifetime special that airs before The Red Tent tonight, and while I don’t have a whole lot to say about the special as a whole — it’s basically a series of interviews with female professors, church leaders and at least one rabbi, interspersed with clips from last year’s miniseries The Bible — one scene did jump out at me that fans of The Bible might want to know about.

Specifically, there is a scene in which Jesus meets Mary Magdalene for the first time — and I don’t believe this scene was included in either The Bible or its big-screen spin-off Son of God.

At the end of the sixth episode of The Bible, Jesus had just one follower, i.e. Peter, and at the beginning of the seventh episode, he had several more, including Mary. Similarly, Son of God used a quick montage to take us from one point to the other, without getting into the details of how Jesus gathered his various disciples.

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Meet the 11-year-old boy who speaks for God when Moses sees the burning bush in Exodus: Gods and Kings

isaacandrewsBack in February, it was reported that Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings would feature “an unconventional depiction of God”. Now we have a better idea of what that report was talking about.

The Hollywood Reporter says Isaac Andrews, an 11-year-old who recently played a young Thracian prince in Hercules, appears in Exodus as a boy named Malak who “meets Moses in front of a burning bush” and “reappears thereafter to guide and debate Moses, who soon realizes the child is speaking as God.”

This is a striking departure from previous Moses movies, which have usually depicted God as a disembodied voice that is often provided by the actor playing Moses himself. But there is actually a biblical precedent for giving God and Moses a go-between like this.

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The Bible and Son of God: just how different are they?

sonofgod-bluray-aIf you’re the sort of person who has wondered just how much overlap there was between The Bible and its big-screen spin-off Son of God, have I got the spreadsheet for you!

It’s still a work in progress, but for now, anyone who is interested can download it from this Dropbox link. The basic idea is this: in one column, I list the timecodes for every scene from the last five episodes of The Bible (with the episode number where the hour would be), and in another, I list the timecodes for every scene in Son of God.

The advantages of this format are twofold: First, you can compare the relative lengths of the two versions of any given scene; more often than not, the movie tightened things up a tad, but every now and then the movie padded things out by adding elements that were missing from the miniseries. And second, because the movie added some scenes, deleted some scenes, and rearranged some other scenes, you can select either column and list all the scenes from one version of the film in the order in which they appeared in that version.

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The Ascension of Christ in film: literalism, symbolism, etc.

Today is the Feast of the Ascension, when Christians remember how Jesus was taken up into heaven 40 days after his Resurrection. It’s one of the stranger bits in the Gospels — both difficult to understand, given our modern cosmology, and difficult to pull off visually — and most of what we know about it actually comes from the Book of Acts. So it’s not too surprising that most films about Jesus have tended to skip this episode.

Nevertheless, a few films have depicted the Ascension, often by mixing it with elements from other stories in the gospels, and even those that don’t depict it have often made a point of ending on a note that suggests Jesus has transcended this life in some way that parallels the Ascension. Here are a few examples.

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