Stephen Colbert Destroys The History Channel’s “The Bible” Miniseries – A Little Friday Funny

My wife and I dvr’d The History Channel’s “The Bible” miniseries & we were pretty excited. I had seen the publicity – folks like Rick Warren touting it as “the best I’ve ever seen” – so I went into this thing hoping it would be great. It is not great.

On the positive side, the production is pretty good, and there are moments where the cinematography is nothing short of stunning. Visually, there are some really high moments from what I saw, and I didn’t watch all of it. As a pastor, I know that there will be many times that the visuals they created depicting certain scenes will be fun to use mixed with other kinds of media and music. So for that part, I’m glad the miniseries was made.

But overall I think that “The Bible” as a miniseries doesn’t work. Not because the producers are unqualified to undertake this kind of project, which they are. Not because the acting is sometimes plainly awful, which it is. Not because of there are scores and scores of theological errors, which there are. It doesn’t work because it can’t work. You can’t convert the bible to video. It’s a text. That’s what it is, and you can’t try to make it something else.

Overall, I think that “The Bible” makes the story of God into a thin, sentimentalized infomercial for saccharine Christianity. It views much like most Americans read the scripture: like disconnected snippets of sacred literature, timeless truths, vignettes and stories that have to be pieced together to make any sense instead of taken on their own terms.

As a result “The Bible” misrepresents the overall narrative. I was constantly fighting the fact that the director, actors, cinematographer, and editor made all of the interpretive choices for me, whereas the actual text leaves a lot of those interpretations for the reader to make.

This can be fine in a film like The Passion of the Christ or The Last Temptation of Christ, which deals with one week in Jesus’s life over the course of a full length (longish) movie. In those movies you knew that you were getting a director’s take (Mel Gibson or Martin Scorsese). But to deal with the entire scope of the scripture requires such a reduction that it is literally nonsense. Because of the scope and the way the miniseries being hyped and publicized, it attempts to claim a kind of authoritative weight. To give The History Channel’s “The Bible” any weight is like trusting your gym teacher’s interpretation of Shakespeare.

Enter Stephen Colbert. Fair warning: the video is a little crass at one point when he talks about how hunky the actor playing Jesus is, but Colbert does his usual masterful satirical-depantsing of the idea of the show.

Here’s a little Friday Funny:

 

 

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • http://bobcornwall.com Bob Cornwall

    Thanks Tim! Colbert is, as usual, spot on!

  • Rix

    Well, whether he had a six pack or a beer belly I doubt he was the emaciated figure we see on most crosses.

  • http://www.joshhunt.com Josh Hunt

    If they didn’t make editorial choices the mini series would not be very mini.

    • GUEST

      They did not just cut it down but changed real bible facts, know the difference in cutting it short to changing the scenes and detouring from the bible on the scenes they did show.

  • Dante Prudente

    Colbert represents the media’s Fabian Leftist/atheist bias’ He only posing as a conservative commentator. What a Joke…. only morons take this clown seriously. The ratings have spoken and the series is a hit! Sorry Hollywood new age Illuminati but…. you lose.

    • GUEST

      Oh Please, why don’t the lovers of this film open the Authorized King James Version of the real bible and compare it to this movie and then complain about how the Producers changed all the scenes to what they wanted it to be. They are bold face liars to peddle this film as the bible when it is full of inaccuracies. The Producers claimed they consulted bible scholars what a joke that is when all they had to do was open their bibles and read it.

    • GUEST

      If you actually stop criticizing him enough to really read the whole bible you’d see what a fraud this film was and how they took the license to change if from the real bible! Only bible illiterates think it is accurate because they haven’t taken time to read their whole bible and compare it.

  • michael little

    Dear Sir,
    I find that you must be one negative person. Are you sure you are a pastor? Pastor of what, your own over rated opinion of yourself? My wife, an avid Bible reader thinks the show is very good.
    Also, it is the history channel, not hollywood. So you criticize the acting. Big deal. It is the history channel. And also, what makes you qualified to criticize the interpretations of the Bible that the history channel had? You want the freedom of having your own opinion, yet you don’t respect the opinions of others.
    You sound like a liberal to me.

    • GUEST

      You think the show was very good? The next time you buy an entertaining book that claims to be an autobiography of someone you admire only to find it was based on inaccuracies in every chapter how good are you going to think the book is? Nothing is good about something peddled as true when it is really fake! Open the real bible and compare it with this film then tell us if you still think the film is good? Too bad in today’s world nothing is what is seems not even folks peddling their version of the bible.

    • Guest

      Who decided his opinion was over-rated? You? Just because he is a pastor does not mean he has to agree with every Christian book or film that comes out. He has his own opinion just as your wife has hers, so feel free to write your own blog. His criticisms are of the distortion of the actual scripture as portrayed this miniseries and as a pastor I think that makes him more then qualified to point out its flaws as a means of educating people about the Bible. And I think you are confusing the word liberal with ignorant. Liberals are people whose political views place a higher value people and civil liberties over property. Ignorant people dismiss opposing views as inherently false and create an oversimplified negative stereotype of said view.
      You sound pretty ignorant to me.

  • jenna

    Why in the world is this on the History channel when the bible is a work of Bronze Age fiction? Americans need to stop pretending this is some historically accurate book. It’s not. It was written and rewritten and translated and retranslated and twisted. The bible is not a source or a history book. It’s a tool used to oppress the ignorant.

    • GUEST

      The translation in the King James Version stayed true to the original content of the Greek and Hebrew scriptures but the Producers of this film changed what was in the bible to what they wanted it to be.
      Saying this film is accurate is a joke, one only has to pick up the bible and compare it to this film.
      The Jesus they picked was way to handsome. The Prophecy in Isaiah said Jesus would have no outward beauty that anyone would be attracted to. Why do they always need a Anglo, European looking Jesus and all the rest are Middle Eastern and Judas is always dark haired and ethnic looking. No real bible student bought into that handsome Surfer model type who played Jesus but bible illiterates!

      Shame on Mike Burnett and Roma Downey Producers should have read this bible verse. Instead they re-invented a hot sexy Jesus–what blasphemy

      Isaiah 53:2
      :My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.

      The Bible said Satan transforms into an Angel of beauty and light
      The made Satan ugly and dark, once again the Producers missed it!

      2nd Corinthians 11:14
      But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

      This movie was a big inaccurate fraud and only bible illiterates swallowed it.

  • Moody

    You said: “It doesn’t work because it can’t work. You can’t convert the bible to video. It’s a text. That’s what it is, and you can’t try to make it something else. …..As a result “The Bible” misrepresents the overall narrative.”
    By your own standards, “The Bible” miniseries is a monumental success. The producers have almost accomplished the impossible. You said it can’t be done – well, they almost did it. They have taken an incredibly long, complicated, convoluted and sometimes contradictory series of stories covering thousands of years and condensed and combined them into a mere ten hours of compelling, empathetic, interrelated and visually stunning “vignettes”, with apologies for plagiarizing your wording. However, that was all it was ever intended to be. And if you had watched all of it, you would know it was more than disconnected snippets; you would feel the threads – God’s love for humanity and each person’s individual freedom to believe – woven into every story. Something on this grand a scale can be intended only as a summary introduction for those unfamiliar with the stories and a beautiful review for those more familiar with them. We have the rest of our lives to study God’s word to either learn the omitted details or iron out the wrinkles in “The Bible”. And to the extent “The Bible” succeeds in having viewers do that, then “The Bible” has indeed succeeded on the terms established by the Bible, the book. And that, ultimately, is all that matters. Is the viewing public not fortunate, therefore, that you and I don’t get to set the standards by which “The Bible” is to be measured? For, if you consider Burnett and Downey “unqualified” to make this miniseries, given their credentials, then, by that standard, you and I are certainly not qualified to judge it. Even if all of your criticisms are accurate, I am still thrilled that this rendition of God’s story is pulling the ratings like it is. Would you prefer they watch reruns of the Batchelor?

    • GUEST

      The Visual Bible Films which includes the The Gospel of John was word for word. One can judge this film if you open the bible and compare it to the bible. The facts are the facts. A square is not a circle no matter how one tries to delude themselves that it is. In scene after scene they changed this film and it strayed from bible facts. This was not God’s story but Roma and Mike’s story. Would have been nice if they had actually read the bible instead of consulting others who read it.
      They totally butchered the scene where Jesus wept outside of the Tomb of Lazarus. Jesus never went inside the tomb to pray or kiss Lazarus like the film changed it to. Jesus said Roll the stone away, instead the film had them picking stones out of the tomb to open it. Jesus then prayed to His Father in Heaven and said Lazarus come forth. Lazarus hopped out tied in grave clothes. Then he told the men to loose him from his grave clothes and let go free.
      The King Dairus did not throw the Hebrew boys in the fire while Daniel watched. He had his men throw them in. I could go on and on about the changed scenes but will not for the sake of time
      Bottom line to bible illiterates, read the real bible! This movie was a fraud.

  • fleitman

    It is the most exagerated bible story i have ever watched. Depictingg the JEWISH people killing Jesus is not true. As a JEWESS i am disgusted with it. Why not the truth? Jewish people did not fight the way this was shone. This will make Christans hate the JEWISH people more!!!!!!!

    • GUEST

      No it will not, because any real Christian has read the real bible and know it was everyone’s sin who killed Jesus. Jesus died to fulfill God’s Plan of Salvation

    • GUEST

      You put it nicely when you said exaggerated. Just tell it like it is, the film was fake and full of bible inaccuracies. Don’t take my word for it, compare it to the bible for yourselves. Read your whole bible first.

  • http://patheos Ellen Gim

    Sir, I am new to the Bible and read with great thirst and hunger. What struck me was the running theme in the New Testament that the Sanhedrin repeatedly was bogged down by religion instead of focusing on the message God sent to us through Jesus. This is the truth and freedom that Jesus came to give us: Our personal relationship with God by faith alone will give us the Kingdom of Heaven right now!
    Isn’t ,” The Bible”, a wonderful way for the people who were involved to follow the Great Commandment: To make disciples of all the nations. What if just one person turned to the Bible with great thirst and hunger and became the mustard seed that grows throughout the world?

    • GUEST

      Only thing is this film was inaccurate to the genuine bible in scene after scene. Read your bible instead of going by this film.

  • Kevin Wieser

    It is easy to pour cold water on the enthusiasm of others. This Colbert person is not the kind of pastor I would seek to follow. His open disdain for the production is something i find to be quite surprising. The production of Bible pointed out the love relationship God sought with His creation, and went to great lengths to forge it and restore it. My goodness, in this day of Revs parading around spewing hatred and politics, can’t we find a man or woman who can see the good in those hoping to portray the greatest story ever told. Colbert’s review left me with a saddness for I know all of us from time to time need to have the joy of our salvation rekindled… no wonder God has a very special place in His heart for those who come to Him with the faith of a child. Sometimes our academic side gets the better of us. God is able, and He is faithful.

    • GUEST

      Colbert bashed the film? If so I was not sad because this film was not THE BIBLE but a fake and anyone will know it if they followed the film then compare it with the BIBLE!

  • M A Heaton

    First, to Fleitman; I have been an active, involved Christian all my life and never have heard a single Christian express hatred toward the Jewish nation. I have always heard in the prayers of Christians, “peace for Jerusalem”, for this is the command of the Lord. We have known the Jews as God’s chosen; why would we hate you? Further, I expect cynicism from Colbert, and am not surprised by his blasphemous discussion. However, for Pastor Suttle to put such a damper on the enthusiasm of others who have been encouraged by the production of The Bible Miniseries is not necessary. It is not completely accurate; that said, encourage people to go to the Bible itself to read and find out the accurate stories. To Jenna and others who still disregard the Bible, it makes mention of you, and it is spot on accurate.

    • GUEST

      You should it was not completely accurate. That is an understatement. Roma and Mike or liars cause they are peddling it as accurate. Did you all see new age guru Oprah interviewing them last night on her Own network. She has introduced her own version of Jesus words for years saying all ways lead to God when Jesus claimed to be the only one to God not just one way. What a scam that whole interview was. What a joke Roma, Mike and Oprah are. they all reinvented the bible and God into their own image, which the first of Gold’s Ten Commandment said not to do!

      Jesus said
      John 14:6
      Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

      • GUEST

        The first of God’s Ten Commandment said to not make a false idol God into your own image which Oprah has done for years and now Roma and Mike have done by reinventing Jesus into a hottie and sex object Jesus had no outward beauty according to the bible and Roma changed God’s words and put false events in this film which totally strayed from the real bible! Fakes!

  • GUEST

    Excuse me I meant to say you said it was not completely accurate was an understatement. Delete the word should.


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