“The Bible” on the History Channel: Not the Absolute Train Wreck I Thought it Would Be

I’m not a big fan of seeing the Bible depicted in film. The biblical narratives have a lot holes in the storyline. To adapt the Bible to film, you have to invent dialogue, whole scenes, and compress other scenes to keep the story going.

The locus classicus for this sort of thing is the granddaddy of all Bible movies, C. B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.” Half the movie is either entirely imaginative or taken from later creative sources like Philo, Josephus, and later Jewish literature (look at the opening credits next time you watch it). That’s how DeMille dragged out Moses’ early years in Egypt for about 2 hours when the Bible’s interest in this period lasts a few verses.

As a biblical scholar, dressing up the Bible annoys me, but I wasn’t surprised to see the first two hours of the 10-hour “The Bible” miniseries on the History Channel follow the Hollywood pattern of morphing, molding, shifting, inventing, exaggerating, and overacting the Bible to keep viewers tuned in. I can’t really hold it against them. Plus, what children’s Christmas pageant hasn’t done the same thing.

But having said that, watching the show didn’t leave me feeling defiled or quite as nauseous as I assumed it would. Actually, the most troubling part of the evening was the incessant Christianmingle.com commercials. God can’t seem to get around to putting a stop to hunger and war, but he has definitely taken the time of subcontracting out to a website the means by which you can find your perfect mate. But I digress.

If you can get beyond the absurdity of, say, a make-my-day Kung Fu style fight in Sodom, or Sarah running up Mt. Moriah to save Isaac, or Moses looking like a cross between Charles Manson and Mickey Rourke, or the so-called “angel of death” looking like the dementors from Harry Potter, you might be able to catch a glimmer or two of hope.

Charles “Moses” Manson

For one thing, I appreciated the attempt of the producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett to portray an interconnected grand story rather than a series of disconnected “Bible stories.”

The show opened in the ark with Noah reciting the story of Genesis 1-4. Now, on the one hand, this is clearly a means of collapsing the story for time. On the other hand, connecting–if even far too subtly for most viewers–the stories of creation and the flood reflects precisely how these stories do in fact work together in the biblical narrative.

Properly understood, the flood story was meant to be seen an echo of the creation story in Genesis 1. The threatening waters kept at bay above the dome-like heavens allowing dry land to appear (Genesis 1) are brought crashing down upon the earth to cover up all land (flood story). The flood is not just a bad turn in the weather but God’s returning of his creation to is pre-creation state of chaos.  God “starts over” with Noah and his family as the new “first humans.”

Unfortunately, the show does not explore how Genesis 1 and the flood are also a preview of the exodus story. Moses as an infant is kept safe in a “basket,” which in Hebrew is the same word used for the ark in the Noah story, thus signaling to the readers that Moses, too, is a new beginning for God’s people, saved through water. Then, at the Red Sea, God once again divides the waters to let dry land appear, as he did in the creation story in Genesis 1. As God pushed back the waters to let habitable ground appear in Genesis 1, and as he subsided the waters to deliver Noah, he is now again providing dry ground for his people.

Oh well, you can’t have everything. I did like, though, how Abraham saw his move to Canaan as a “new beginning” for God’s people, which connects his story to Noah and creation in keeping with the biblical plot. Another subtle move to telling a grand narrative is dressing up one of the three visitors to Abraham in white Jesus-robes. I actually think it is a quite a distortion of the narrative to depict one of these visitors as the pre-incarnate Christ, but it did show me that the producers are thinking in terms of telling the large story of the Christian Bible as a whole.

Mr. Miyagi subdues a resident of Sodom.

I also liked how they did not refrain from showing some violence (complete with Kung Fu flying kicks and sword play that would make Mr. Miyagi proud). I wonder, though, whether this was an unflinching attempt to reflect the biblical narrative rather than smooth it over, or whether the producers are not so bothered by God’s violence.

Either way, I’d rather have it there than not, though I can see atheist academies playing these videos to indoctrinate their children against the horrors of Christianity.

A final ray of light was the faith struggle they depicted in Abraham and Sarah. Rather than portraying them as models of virtue, both characters were given the biblical depth they deserved–though here too I think things turned to the melodramatic now and then. Still, showing these characters are harboring serious doubt about God’s presence was a good touch.

One last random observation: Every last hint of homosexuality was excised from the Sodom and Gomorrah story, which–I can’t imagine it otherwise–was a capitulation on the part of the producers keep from catching heat. They depicted the residents as more a violent mob wanting to mug the three visitors, rather than a horny bunch who wanted to rape them.

At any rate, don’t get me wrong. There were some surprisingly positive moments, but all in all I am not excited about the series. This is not a “tell your non-Christian friends about it” moment. But neither was it the train wreck I was bracing myself for.

  • A sinner

    Watching the so-called movie now and it’s horrible. Any changes to the narrative is automaticly dismissed. It goes off ways to promote humanism abomination (for the world propaganda) instead of the (spirit) relationship between Yahweh (God the Father) and mankind. This adaption is pathetic and those who have never read the bible or are ignorant of it may assume this film as authenticity and forgo to reading the truth from the actual scriptures fooling the masses from free gift of Salvation only Yahshua brings from the Holy and Great One Yahweh.

    • sadsadman

      That’s true… This movie is NOT showing what the Old Testament is supposed to show… The Character and Nature of God… Rather sad really… Just another example of how Humanists like to twist things so that they can still say, “Yeah, the Bile’s a great piece of ‘literature’.” rather than actually presenting it as even possibly being truth… I find it encouraging though that there is at least a small bit of the truth that bleeds through. Perhaps it will be enough to spark interest for people to search for the truth.

      • http://skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

        Considering that the film was made by evangelical Christians, I rather doubt that they were leaning over backwards for Humanists…

        Maybe your comment is just another example of how some Christians twist thins so that they can still say, “Yeah, the Humanists are to blame”?

        • Deborah

          No. SOME Christians read the Bible .

    • Dan

      ABSOLUTELY AGREE !!! You can tell touch by a angel folks were involved … Truth matter little

    • Blackman

      And first of all two Angels of God are defenseless against this mob yet shortly later kick their butts and destroy the city. Super logical.

    • Deborah

      Correct! I thought I was losing my mind . WHY would anyone make a movie , call it The Bible and proceed to NOT read The Bible! The movie was the most horrible I’ve ever seen. The Angels in Sodom simly ‘blinded’ the men . There was no sword fighting . There IS no Jewish celebration of Pentacost . Their Holy Day is called Shavot yes 50 days after The Passover . Jesus ascended 40 days after His resurrection ” from “the Mt of Olives AND leaving His Holy Spirit upon the Apostles . They were NOT in the upper room when that happened . Failure .

  • Brian P.

    Theologians never appreciate fan fiction. It’s a paradox.

  • Zanthador64

    I would also like to know just where the double date-rape that happened between Lot and his daughters, where they got him drunk and then fornicated with him, is. How am I, as an Atheist, supposed to make a decision about my eternal soul if I’m not being told the entire, unvarnished story as told in the Bible?

    • sadsadman

      Well, that’s a good point. But since the religion of Atheism is focused on only disproving the existence of God, what difference does it make?

      • http://skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

        Atheism is not a religion. Your comment is like saying that theism is focused on only proving the existence of God.

        Atheists also have positive beliefs, but these are not reflected in the term “atheism” (which merely reflects what we don’t believe). For example, Secular Humanism is a positive set of beliefs had by many (but not all) atheists, similar to how Christianity is a positive set of beliefs had by many (but not all) theists.

        At any rate, I believe Zanthador’s comment is best read as sarcasm.

        • joe

          I don’t understand ‘atheism is not a religion” it is! simply by definition it is a faith of the absence of any Theo(s). Yes it has become very much a religion for many (like you) always seeking an opportunity to present apologia for your faith. —break, break— what does an atheist care what theist do? Atheist don’t believe in right or wrong, they can only believe in the ‘is’ and ‘is not’ There is no morality there is only ‘action’ and the succeeding ‘reaction’ Atheist can’t believe in the metaphysical only the physical, the ’cause’ and ‘effect’ An individuals action to kill or ‘harm’ is a biological reaction to 80 million years of ‘Universal evolution’ to a singular moment (i.e., Big Bang) that was an effect without a cause. But clearly to defend the abstract metaphysical concept of good and bad is hypocritical.

          • Michael Brookman

            Thank you for telling us what we believe. We never would have been able to figure it out without your backwards, ill-reasoned opinions. But seriously, we do have morality. We just can’t get our morality from a higher source; it has to be developed based on concern for others and the world in which one lives. That’s not the same as ‘don’t believe in right and wrong’. It’s just relative morality, not absolute.

    • Dan

      Here the problem you do not comprehend the bible is first showing the sinful nature of mankind .So when you see things like that does not mean God ok the event .The bible is first a account of history .We are all sinful and the heart and wicked and in need of a savior to remove our sins. I agree this movie is awful and false 100% to be Biblical truthful . I tell you open your bible and read it … See what God did for you because he loves you .God made mankind to have free choice in loving him.God did not want robot.So mankind it responsible for their own action in rejecting God forgiveness .

      • http://skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

        I wonder if it would surprise you if I told you that most atheists have read the Bible and that studies show that atheists, out of any other demographic, are more knowledgeable about religion?

        • AChristianLawyer

          Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

          It’s well known that the chief opponents to Jesus were the most religious people of their day: Pharisees, Saducees, legal/religious scholars. In short, people who have forgotten more about religion than I will ever know.

          And yet, to them, Jesus said: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

          It’s not reading the Bible or knowing facts about religion that convey life, it’s relationship with the Author.

    • http://www.hairvivify.com Anthony Keller

      I agree I was wandering the same thing and Lot and his daughters! And to the Author, the only thing Kung Fu about that angel was his Asian heritage. That fighting style was Roman. If you are a theologian please let me know what school you went to so I can make sure to avoid that educational institute at all cost!

      • pilgrim

        Enns studied at some inconsequential liberal arts college that you might have heard of. It’s called Harvard. I guess you’re too smart for that place, Anthony.
        btw, I’ve practiced Chinese martial arts for over 15 years, and while I find few people know anything about fighting styles, I hardly consider that such a horrendous deficiency in education that I would heap abuse on their intellect. Peace-out.

  • Jerry Kherl

    I think it is an excellent series thus far. It was never introduced as a theological consistent adaptation of the bible merely an attempt to adequately portray biblical and historical data. Budget and talent may have prevented this – it is not the multi-million dollar project that most of the garbage hollywood puts out is privileged to, but for what it is I appreciate the effort and the station for airing it. Thank you

    • Michelle

      I agree. There are not many movies out there addressing the Word nor does Hollywood make every attempt to put scripture into a movie. So I’m thankful that this was created and aired.

    • Dan

      Guess the truth does not matter to you then … Because that movie is pure junk … It clear you guy don’t know your bible to be able to examine truth from junk .

    • butterminor

      Well said….there is freedom in CHRIST. This series can help some unbelievers to understand GODs will for them to accept his SON.Christ Jesus’s already paid salvation. If its airing saves or saved one soul then it was worth however much money and time the producers put into it. We (including you mr bible scholar) need to do more professing of Christ and less of ourselves. Peace be unto you.

      • http://skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

        Butterminor — I’m just curious. You said that “this series can help some believers to accept GODs will for them to accept his SON.” Isn’t it true that unbelievers need to be convinced that there is a god before they can be convinced of what God’s will is or that God has a son that needs to be accepted? It seems to me that you’re rather putting the horse before the cart, so to speak.

        • resumeperfect1

          linford86

          The Bible says that you don’t need to be convinced that there is a god. It says that you already know there is a god, but only do not want to come to the light unless your deeds/works be exposed.

          Let me ask you: Would you say you are morally better or worse than Adolph Hitler?

          • LarryRR

            My guess is that linford86 is morally better than Hitler though that is strictly a guess since I have never heard of him nor has NATO allied against him. But, ultimately, only time will tell….

          • http://www.skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

            Am I morally better or worse than Adolph Hitler? I don’t see why that question is relevant. If I answered “yes”, you’d tell me that I believe in an objective moral code that could only exist if there was a god; but metaethicists have been doing secular metaethics for at least 2400 years. If I answered that I don’t know, you probably wouldn’t have a pre-set apologetic response. And I said that I was worse, you’d respond with the objective morality bit again and ignore what metaethicists actually have to say on the topic.

            So, I’m not going to answer your question. What I will say is that if that’s what your Bible says (that I already know that God exists) then we’ve just disproved your Bible. I don’t know that God exists; in fact, I think that God does not exist.

    • RAYMOND A HEDLEY

      Excuse me – what – adquately – accurate – historial data – is represented – you need to verse by verse read in its – entirity and completness the actual – written recorded accounts of events and what is actually there – you will be greatly surprised at what you find. Much of what you will read about was in the BIBLE TV show distorted – twisted or misconstrued – or re – written with Hollywood;s artistic license – showing a lack of real understanding of the WORD OF GOD – the BIBLE or the TORAH – not to say world history and JEWISH History. Accuracy and exactness – is all found in my own Copyrighted film – scripts – that LORD WILLING – will right the wrongs done by people with good intentions if that’s what is meant to be – only the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY knows that!

  • bull do do

    I just saw an Asian Angel use swords and martial art techniques to save Lot where in the bible did that happened? lol

    • http://www.hairvivify.com Anthony Keller

      For real, that fighting style was Roman. Not all Asians know kung fu!!

      • http://skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

        Not all Romans know kung fu either!
        Though I would point out that I don’t know why angels wouldn’t know kung fu or any other fighting style. They’re angels, after all.

  • K. Smith

    I was really looking forward to seeing this new “adaptation” of The Bible. But so far, I’ve been disappointed with all the important omissions and license taken with the Bibical stories. I am hoping and praying that anyone watching this series will be motivated and interested enough to read and learn for themselves about the Real Bible stories and how they affect our lives.
    I have to say that the photography is amazing – since I have never been to Egypt and the area, I can imagine and see just how things looked 3,ooo years ago. The “Feel” is there, for sure.
    It has been intersting to me that I know and can recall the parts that are missing from these stories. My own Bible study and classses have been inspirational and have motivated me to continue. I hope seeing this series will bless others and they will continue in their own study which will lead to the truth.

    • resumeperfect1

      I watched the Omen many years ago when I was young…at the end of the movie they had a scripture verse from the book of Revalation: 13.8 “Here is Wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.”
      That was about it…I didn’t end up reading more.
      What I did find out.
      GeniusTHEmovie.com
      may help.

      • http://bradfordfirm.wordpress.com Rich Bradford

        LOL! I was in junior high when the Omen book, then movie came out. Having read the book, then seen the movie, I tried to read through Revelation. As a 13 year old, I said wait a minute, this is nothing like the movie. Where is the kid with the three 6s in his head? Many many many years later having read Revelation at least 20 times, I finally got it.

        As to the series, the book is always better than the movie. Watch the movie and despite the inconsistencies, be prepared to answer those who will ask about the hope within you.

  • Phil

    Please give me a break, let’s stop hairsplitting these films. Let’s face it, it will never be possible to be exactly depicted as we want it to be and even if it was; someone else would still criticized it. I appreciate the fact that it at least contains God’s word and HIS word never comes back void. God can work through these films, especially for those that have never entered the church.

    Phil M.

    • Michelle

      Well said!

    • Lorraine Klug

      Amen Phil. I don’t believe it was meant to be a “documentary”, but sure beats watching all the other “reality” crap on TV now!

    • http://bradfordfirm.wordpress.com Rich Bradford

      Agree!!

  • CJ

    I think, if you really want to know what happened…. you should read the book.

    • GLORIA KENT

      I AGREE CJ.

    • MAXESMOM

      Read Provers 1 You have to read the Bible in order to have an understanding of it and ask for the leadership of Holy Spirit. If you need help with some portions or verses, just remember to be sure and go to someone who is Godly not the counsel of the ungodly.

  • Chris Pritchett

    While Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art, Mr. Miyagi was Japanese who practiced and taught the Japanese martial art, Karate (in the film, Karate Kid). This post was helpful except that if you’re going to criticize inaccuracies in the film, you might want to at least get your martial arts correct and avoid the appearance of gross racial stereotypes.

    • http://www.hairvivify.com Anthony Keller

      Thank you for saying that. I feel the same way about these racial comments.

  • John

    This was an awesome and powerful depiction of God’s power, love and grace. Tonight’s episode was spectacular! God is mighty and loves us that he gave his only begotten son to die for us so that WE may have eternal life, it’s there for all….his grace and love is free for those who seek him..just knock…he WILL open.

  • christopher

    I enjoyed it even though it had its limitations but it also made Moses look more human as well especially in the part when the Israelites were set free .I also think it was rushed due to the nature of audiences today .I for one will continue to see this through the end .

  • Mike

    This was awful!
    Even on the most basic level and even if you have no faith but only a profit motive to guide you.
    How can you possibly read how great the actual material is here and end up with this drivel.
    They skip the most profound truths and add breathtakingly weak dialog and ninja angles as they give us the bums rush through the greatest adventures of the ages. They cover the 10 astonishing plauges in Egypt in about 2 minutes.
    How can Hollywood be so absolutely blind?
    I am part of the audience that I am sure they are targeting. I would love programs like this and I honestly share the hope I see here to give the project some latitude but in my mind this effort was a blown opportunity.
    I hope they made some money.

    • GLORIA KENT

      I TOTALLY AGREE ! SO VERY DISAPPOINTED.

  • GLORIA KENT

    A total disappointment! Not one good actor in the bunch. Felt like I was watching a high school play. Did they let Charlie Manson out of prison to play the part of Moses? I might have been expecting too much.

    • Nick Gotts

      Well according to the Bible, Moses was right out of Charles Manson’s league when it came to ordering his followers to slaughter people (Exodus 32:27-8).

  • sadsadman

    This is pathetic. This is one of the most historically (and Biblically) inaccurate films I’ve ever seen. If you want to nit-pick a bunch of stories out of the Bible, at least tell the details that ARE there. I don’t believe that the writers even read the Bible. And the entire point of these stories was completely missed. This is a complete waste of time, effort and money. I will be boycotting the remainder of this production on the grounds that it is simply not even NEAR what the actual text of the Bible says. Congratulations Secular Humanists, this one’s for you.

    • Jennifer

      What specific parts did you find to be a victory for the “Secular Humanists?”

      I’m asking out of genuine curiosity, not out of malice or a spirit of argumentativeness or division. As I noted in my post below (I was typing it up before your comment was posted), I thought it was fairly decent as a means to introduce someone to some of the major OT stories and how they’re interconnected.

      • http://skepticfreethought.com/libere linford86

        As a Secular Humanist, I agree with your confusion. I don’t understand how this film was a victory for my side.
        One thing that I’ve occasionally seen from some Christians is that whenever another Christian says or does something they dislike, they attribute it to SH. That’s not fair. This film was made by evangelical Christians for evangelical Christians.
        In fact, I think most people in the SH community were angered by the fact that the History channel was airing this. Whether you’d believe it or not, a lot of us care a lot about Biblical scholarship. In fact, it’s one of the things that’s brought me to read Enns’ blog every week.

  • Daniel

    Loved it !!! Can’t wait to see more… Question thou who that was when the angels come- Jesus before he was born or god that looks like Jesus but anyways I would it love to see more about adam and eve Family story

  • LISA

    I know It’s clIche, but the Book Is way better than the movIe.

  • Daniel

    Ps. People that are disappointed were not in the mood for god I could see… People just experience it in the view of todays world piece by piece and prey the horrible events wouldn’t happened again and so we wait for his second coming

  • Future Kung Fu clergy

    I was very excited to learn that an ancient angelic style of martial arts does exist.

  • Jennifer

    The book was better, yes.

    HOWEVER, I think that we, as Christians (who I assume do know the Word pretty well) have the tendency to view any film narrative of the Bible through an extra-critical lens. Is this a bad thing? Well, no…not entirely. Not if it’s meant to expose and filter heretical accounts. I think we should be careful with throwing out the baby with the bathwater though. The fact that the History Channel would display the telling some of the major parts of the OT and the Gospel in a positive, non-biased way should be exciting to Christians, should it not? I’m excited, at least.

    For Christians, obviously nothing will ever live up to actually reading and studying the Word, nor should anything ever replace it. For the casual viewer though, these film narratives can be used to start a dialogue at the very least. It can also compel some who may be questioning to look deeper into the source of the Word for affirmation to what the History Channel has shown (and I don’t think they’ve been unfaithful to what they have shown thus far).

    As for the production and the series…did they ad-lib some? Of course, but I found the dialogue has been either lifted or stayed pretty consistent to themes of Scripture (outside of the one instance of PC sanitation with Sodom; I’m going to assume that blame does indeed lay with the producers on this one). Yeah, they trimmed down quite a bit and seem to be sticking to “major” stories that move the action forward. I assume this can be attributed to time and budget constraints.

    Yes, they left out the entirety of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy…I won’t give them too much flack for it overall. I imagine it would be difficult to paint a compelling visual image of either Leviticus or Deuteronomy. As for Numbers…well. They probably could have done a fair bit with Numbers, outside of the census thing. They did gloss over the golden calf in Exodus as well as the Israelite unbelief in Numbers. I think that the overall theme of God blessing those who stay faithful to His words/commands and punishing those who stray from them has been decently covered (not ENTIRELY covered, but decently), with Lot and his wife, as well as with Pharaoh. I do hope they touch upon this a little bit more, just for depth. It seems like they will with David and Bathsheba, but I guess we’ll see.

    Anyway. I could go on, but to end this wall of text, I will state this: NOTHING will ever compare to the actual Word of God presented through the Bible. I think that a series like this though can serve as a good outreach to those that maybe have never been presented the OT, the fulfillment of the Law, and the Gospel of Jesus in a way that is easily understood and interconnected.

  • Melinda

    I liked it. I did not think it was absolutely accurate and little things I missed like when God tells Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on Holy ground-I kind of missed those little things, and like everyone the ninja moves and hooded angels were a little weird, but then again, if they had wings-my mother would have been offended since angels do not have wings. Everyone is a critic. I was a little remiss about the omission of homosexuality at Sodom and Gomorrah. I feel like the homosexuals were probably lined up at their tv’s waiting for the moment to start their blog about how anti-sodomite the movie was. Now they have no material to fuel the hate they have for Christians-not that I am usually concerned about being hated by those that will not follow God, but the movie is captivating and maybe if they made it far enough into it to watch the Sodom scene, they might keep coming back to watch more and who knows-maybe they will turn from their wicked ways.
    I watched this with my entire family including my 8 year old and he has already learned all of this through our home school curriculum (with the details that were left out) but it was nice to sit with him and watch it and have a little cinematic review of what he has learned. He enjoyed it and that made me very happy with the film in general.
    I think you have to accept that this film is intended for secular audiences. You, as a Christian, already know and accept these stories. It would be selfish of you to think this movie should cater to you. But I imagine many people who haven’t cracked a Bible in years may have done so tonight after realizing the Bible is not as dull as they imagine. I like knowing I serve an all-powerful God but today people have reduced him to a happy-go-lucky guy who loves everyone and puts up with sin. This film was a reminder that he is not and does not.
    I am usually very critical of anything that claims to be Biblical-including churches, pastors and sermons, because they all seem to promote secular humanism nowadays, but this didn’t get me upset. I actually really liked it and I wasn’t sure if I would.

  • http://prodigalthought.net Scott

    Pete -

    Though I was aware of this production, I don’t think I’m able to watch it over here in Europe. Maybe I can find it online. You’re correct to note some embellishments that take place as we tell the scriptural narrative. However, and I think you are willing to note this, it’s not so disastrous. It’s not unlike your remarks about second temple Jewish thought making it into the NT text. Examples you list:

    1. Jannes and Jambres in 2 Tim 3:8 – These names are not given as the 2 that opposed Moses
    2. Noah as a ‘preacher of righteousness’ in 2 Pet 2:5
    3. The dispute over Moses’ body in Jude 9
    4. Jude 14-15 and its quotation of 1 Enoch
    5. Moses’ Egyptian education in Acts 7:21-22
    6. The Law put into effect through angels in Acts 7:52-53 (and possibly Heb 2:2-3)
    7. Paul’s movable well in 1 Cor 10:1-4

    I know this is different because the NT actually falls within the biblical text, whereas our ponderings (taking the ‘preacher’s license’) lay outside the narrative given us in the text. Having said all this, I know the problem lies with our attempt to ‘smooth over’ the difficult parts of the text, rather than letting the text say what it says (or seems to be clearly communicating).

    Lastly, in reading Richards’ & O’Brien’s book, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, it’s interesting how they note that a non-western approach to reading the account of Sodom & Gomorrah is not so much the homosexual behaviour, but more the grave inhospitality shown to Lot’s family. Of course, I think the text presents homosexuality in a bad light. But it’s interesting to think that it’s not the only (or maybe even main) thing being condemned.

    Cheers!

  • Pingback: Bible Mini-Series Positives | The Prodigal Thought

  • stacie markham

    So you think that they should have left any violence out of the story? That would have been a direct misrepresentation of the story because, in fact, bible history is a very bloody history. I’m not quite sure how this would indoctrinte atheism…if they want to prove that point they need only read the Bible to read about the jewish folks being led into slavery and treated as less than cattle throughout biblical history, or pharoah slaughtering babies, and again when Herod did the same thing. Reading about it and seeing it come to life are two different things, however. I thought it was incredible, and I think that this producer took a huge chance by making this series. Surely he will be blackballed from hollywood now. His career will be over for his christian beliefs. Odd how those hollywood democrats claim to have tolerance for all. I wonder when they’ll start witholding their predjudice for christianity?

  • ivan

    It was an exciting movie presentation that would appeal to those action oriented viewers-somewhat like Mark’s Gospel. Nevertheless it’s not as accurate as the producers claim. Perhaps it will be a different story with the Life of Christ sequence. There are actually much more accurate videos on the old testament stories in animation and otherwise that are available from Some christian sources.

  • CraigCregger

    I think they did a good job when you consider this is a History Channel series. I think your feeling as a theologian is similar to if you were a US History Professor and watched the History of the US Presidents, or History of the Revolutionary War on the History Channel. Obviously, you could have an entire series on Teddy Roosevelt, but certain restrictions are placed on it.

    So, while not a “tell your non-Christian friends about it” movie, it is pretty similar to other History Channel treatments of topics.

    I think the Sodom issue was handled the way it was because they knew that lots of people would want to watch this with their kids – and, some issues are a little too tough to introduce young children to.

  • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com Chris

    I have no plans to watch this series, just I have no plans to watch most things on TV (except the new series of Sherlock whenever it comes out!). I do find it amusing, though, how so many people here in the comments jumped on the worldview apologetics and moral outrage train when confronted with something which differed from their own view. How dare these “secular humanists” try to turn the Bible into a series palatable for TV audiences!

    I wonder how they would have felt if they had included the rape, incest, genocide, etc., etc., which pervades a good deal of the Old Testament. The accuracy in depicting the Old Testament would have instead been called “atheist propaganda” or something to that effect.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs_6MseHRrI A sinner

      The truth is the truth. It’s as simple as that. It would show the wicked nature of man from the divine order of Yahweh who knows all. Such as Sodom’s in hospitality to strangers, to the inhabitants of Canaan who were wicked for over 400 years as told to Abraham by God they would live there.

      Promoting humanism while freely adding/twisting scenes is not just disturbing but disgusting to what amounts to an agenda driven project. After researching about those involved all I can say is it is no wonder. Pagan Catholicism cult members and wolves in sheep clothing are involved in the production and advisory board.

  • http://yliapu.typepad.com/spiritualregurgitations/ Robin Dugall

    Unfortunately, I thought it was a train wreck from a “Kingdom” perspective…starting out with Genesis 3 and Noah puts the text specifically within an evangelical/revivalism hermeneutic and NOT in a “mission-driven” or Kingdom of God perspective. God does “not look good” in this movie…the goodness of God is essentially skipped over in order to cherry pick stories that are popular among the “already convinced.” I thought to myself, “if I were thinking about knowing God, what would I see about God in the movie?” I wasn’t impressed when I answered that question. To start in Genesis 3 misses the wonder of the goodness of God…the eternal community of the Godhead as well as the “image” of community that is embedded in human nature. Anyway, I do have my problems with it Peter because it seems to diminish the OT in favor of building up to the NT. IN other words, if we can’t find Gospel in the OT, then it appears we have embraced more of dispensationalism than the meta-narrative of the grace-filled God. Anyway, I’m a “big fan” of yours Pete! Keep on publishing and posting!

    Dr. Robin Dugall
    Azusa Pacific University, Trinity Lutheran College, Concordia University

    • Cheryl Hoyopatubbi

      I absolutely agree that the goodness of God is missing. How can we see the real truth and understanding
      of who He is without seeing His goodness?
      There were many inaccuracies of the written word – it seems as though it were more of an effort to
      bring Hollywood into our living rooms – even if it is felt it was justified that it might help save souls as
      mentioned above – at what cost is this? Revelation warns us sternly about taking away or adding unto
      scripture and what those consequences are.

  • Karen

    At the Sodom scene, my 12 year old son asked me if “Jet-Li Angels” were in the Bible. If Mark Burnett took their time, money and resources to create The Bible, at least do it with accuracy. They were on Christian radio promoting this movie, informing listeners they would be enthralled with their adaptation. I was sorely DISAPPOINTED!! Of course if you want born again believers to watch your version of the Bible………..PLEASE be more accurate. We don’t expect perfection, we expect authenticity. Sarah was beautiful in the Bible, in the movie, she appeared to look like a Jewish witch. The list goes on and on……………I will stick with the Passion of the Christ this Easter!!

  • David

    I was similarly unimpressed with the way in which they deal with much of the biblical material. I could have done without seeing Moses’ early history in such detail–I would’ve much rather seen Jacob’s story, and seen how the story of Noah, the story of Abraham, and the story of Jacob all directly feed in to the story of the Exodus.

    This is especially true in the way they handled Genesis and Exodus. I think that realistically, the first two hours should have been dedicated to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and the next installment could be dedicated to the story of the Exodus, Sinai, and the wandering in the wilderness. This, I think, puts the emphasis where the text itself puts it: the grand crescendo that brings Israel to Sinai, and that eventually brings them full circle back into the Land.

    The particularly aggravating thing was that their concern seemed to be more about the scenes they had to infer and to guess at than at the actual biblical narrative.

  • http://www.examiner.com/biblical-in-charlotte/vincent-eagan-III Vincent J. Eagan, III

    I actually disagree with the part you seemed to think was the biggest departure from the narrative – that one of Abraham’s visitors was a pre-incarnate Christ (or, more specifically, God incarnate). When two of the visitors (later called angels) go on to Sodom, one stays behind and converses with Abraham. But very quickly, we are told that Abraham is not conversing with a human visitor, but with God himself. According to the narrative as written, they actually got THIS part right.

    It was, however, one of the very, very few parts they got right.

    Seriously people – just READ THE BOOK. It’s not that hard. Sheesh.

    Had to laugh about your short Christian Mingle rant there. I also cringe whenever one of those commercials comes on. I find it HIGHLY presumptuous to assure people that by joining Christian Mingle you will definitely find “God’s match for you!”

  • Nathan

    I’ll be happy enough if aliens don’t materialize. This is the History Channel, after all.

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  • beaglelady

    I was unfortunately unable to view this show. I just want to comment that even a mediocre show on biblical themes can get people interested and talking about faith matters, as long as the material is handled respectfully.

  • http://featuring.com Chang

    I rather read the real thing than watch this show. Sorry. I don’t expect anything outstanding from the show.

  • resumeperfect1

    this was endored by Joel Osteen…nuff said

    GeniusTheMovie.com

    if this doesn’t help the atheists who keep swarming around they don’t believe it…then maybe they could change their title to Asantaclausets or Aunicornists…I hear they try to clump them together without knowing better.

    proofthatgodexists.org

    Be of good CHEER…

  • ketchumdan

    I stopped watching after 2 minutes. Watered down sheeple kindergarten story, NOT the truth. All you so called, “believers” are soo deceived. Adam and Eve did NOT eat some kind of fruit off a tree. So, what really happened? Eve was beguiled by the serpent and par-took in fornication, and Adam, the same. Remember that Satan/Lucifer comes as an angel of light to deceive the WHOLE world and can look pleasing to any human eye. So the seed of the serpent was planted in Eve, and her first born was the first naphilliam/giant before Genesis 6. Why did Cain offer the wrong sacrifice to God? And then kill his half-brother Able? Jesus said when he returns again that the earth will be as it was in the days of Noah. If you can’t figure out what it was like in the days of Noah from Genesis 6, then you need to read the book of Enoch. The true answer is NOT what you have been taught or led (BAAAA!) to believe. So, get at least 5 different bibles and a Strong’s Concordance and compare what and how it’s written as you read it. And just READ it, instead of watching this junk!

  • linelle707

    I thought Moses looked like William H. Macy. He smirked the whole time.

  • troy

    If Jesus never exsisted and there is no proof he didnt exist then what is this non believers?

    http://www.ingermanson.com/jesus/art/jjj.php

  • http://www.newdirection.ca wendy gritter

    “They depicted the residents as more a violent mob wanting to mug the three visitors, rather than a horny bunch who wanted to rape them.”

    Rape is about power. Why would you expect the mob to be portrayed as horny? The Sodom story isn’t primarily about homosexuality – so perhaps Mark and Roma actually got it right on this count. The men of Sodom were evil because of their violent refusal to extend a safe place to visitors to their city. If they were merely horny they would have taken Lot’s offer of his daughters.

  • RAYMOND A HEDLEY

    I would agree not a total train wreck but borderline – by two uneducated Celebrities attempting to rewrite the BIBLE stories as they understand it. Credit is to be given for attempting – to tell the story once again. For the life of me I DON’T – understand why all those attempting to share the BIBLE and its stories – get them so distorted adding things that aren’t even there – leaving out key details – and points – that aren’t that difficult to include – yet are key factors to understand – how AWESOME and POWERFUL the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY – YHWH IE YAHWEH – HIS SON – YESHUA – ie Gentile nickname – JESUS – and HIS HOLY SPIRIT really are – and that ISRAEL – is forever against all odds.

    I am prepared to right these wrongs – with Major Film scripts -Copyrighted LIB of Congress Wash DC / WSWG -of Hollywood – based on both world and most Jewish History – of some stories never told in film yet -accuracy is something that is lacking in all films involving BIBLICAL themes – and at 62 yrs of age – having worked in the industry and a member of SAGAFTRA – as a stunt action extra actor – if I live long enough – and have the Director/s – Producer/s – and or have the LORD provide the need resources – the world will see – heard and witness the TRUTH of the WORD OF GOD – called the BIBLE – once and for all in epic splendor of BEN HUR – GLADIIATOR – and even LORD OF THE RINGS. No boast or self bragging – just facts and real serious sincerity – I’m prepared to back up and deliver my – claims and statements.

    These scripts will be far more accurate and more real and literal than – even the timeless classics of Cecil B. DeMillie. I am able to back up this comment and statement – for any in the Industry – willing to take up the challenge and who would have a desire to also – step up for the LORD to – right these wrongs and tell the real story – without HOLLYWOOD”S artistic – license of misconstrued and made up ideas – that don’t follow the TORAH or the BIBLE the way the accounts were written and recorded.

    14.8 million Viewers – rating? NUMBER 1# SHOW OF 2013 very IMPRESSIVE. Yet – media is both POWERFUL and IMPRESSIONIBLE – when there’s discrepancies or inaccuracies – those who have never read the BIBLE themselves or never will – they really don’t know the differences – mostly all the critics promoting the BIBLE Project – most are liberals – having never even read the actual stories completely much less have opened the BIBLE in months if not years . And in the Industry – marketing and promotion are every thing – it will make or break you.

    Only a few Bible FILMS – have ever come close in accuracy – they are Jeffery Hunter – KING of KINGS – LORD of LORDS – Passion of Christ – John the BAPTIST – Michael York – and the JESUS FILM – King Saul – St JOHN – Richard Harrison – JACOB and JOSEPH – Movies.

    Issues with – the – BIBLE TV Show – NOAH – ABRHAM – LOT – with Angels in SODOM – MOSES – JOSHUA – and tonight SAMSON – King Saul vs DAVID and Goliath etc. For the – four years of filming – more accuracy and staying closer to the actual text and what is actually written – would have BEEN more correct and accurate. Plus reviewing other films of like matter instead of recreating their own version and interpretations of the events – would have helped greatly. But it is what it is! They could have learn much from YOU TUBE – the SINAI CONNNECTION -by MICHAEL ROOD and the RED CROSSING – CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF – PLUS SECRETS OF SOLOMON’S TEMPLE – AND THE ARK OF THE COVENANT ALONG WITH – TRUTH AND TRADITIONS.

    Plus the VATICAN or Catholic Church – was NEVER – THAT’S A LIE – started by YESHUA – OR EVEN ST. PETER – they crucified HIM – and USE ST PETER- for their own agendas – IT STARTED IN BABLE – under NIMROD – with the worship of the Sun God – with the crown worn by the POPE today – of heathen pagan -DAGON the FISH GOD – SHE went from Caesars / Emperors who were losing POWER their control of the people and Empire and it has never changed they have killed along with the JESUITS – TRUE BORN AGAIN Believers and JEWS – mostly in the 1500′s – and during HILTER – alike who have exposed and opposed HER – SHE will pay dearly for all her crimes – SHE / or IT – WILL END THE SAME AS BABLE – SODOM AND GOMORRAH – AND GREECE AND ROME AND THE USA MAY BE NEXT – ONLY THE LORD KNOWS – BUT WAIT AND SEE –

    SHALOM – a former Catholic back in 1960 – now a BORN AGAIN believer in YESHUA – YHWH – and THE HOLY SPIRIT – who seeks only THE TRUTH – AND TO EXPOSE THE LIE !

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  • http://www.scripturesfromthebible.org/ Maria Lopez

    The Bible is a canonical collection of texts considered sacred in Judaism or Christianity. Different religious groups include different books within their canons, in different orders, and sometimes divide or combine books, or incorporate additional material into canonical books. Christian Bibles range from the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon to the eighty-one books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon.

  • Martin Roules

    I applaud the attempt to introduce The Bible to a theologically illiterate world. I forgive the minor lapses here and there on costume and Hebrew practices. Yet, the stunning moment where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist was so vapidly written I had to shout at the TV. What I knew had to be said was edited out … John utters the essential and Biblically penultimate phrase: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” … and the writers purposely EXCLUDED this essential statement. THIS is the confirmation of the entire Old Testament prophesy of the Messiah and the dominant theme for the entire New Testament!
    Will the rest of the series work just as hard to water down Jesus ministry on earth? Will it under-play His miraclous healings? His raising of Lazarus? His curing of the blind, the lepers, the crippled? The true meaning of His atoning sacrifice on the cross? Most of all, will it avoid proclaiming Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, … through whom no man may come to the Father?
    Will the series makers faint at the very truth of the moment? Are they ashamed fo the entire Gospel? We will have to wait and see.

  • Shakaa

    There is no doubt that the depiction of the devil looks like our beloved president. However, it is historically accurate that the prophet Jesus was born in the part of the world where the people were of color. The lost tribe of Israel were also people of color, including Moses. So why in the world would this so-called producer portray the devil ( the worst of us) as a blackman in the first place? My guess is that he wanted to cater to a mostly white audience who think Jesus was a whiteman and not a person of color. In other words, this whole series is based upon a false (white) image of God’s son Jesus.

  • austin

    The part about Lot offering his daughters to a crowd of rapists was omittted to make Lot a more sympathetic character to a modern audience in my opinion. Also, the crowd’s motive for chasing after the two angels being changed from a desire for male rape to no discernible motive at all was probably to avoid offending gay viewers (also my opinion). The show’s politically correct revisionism then went from ludicrous to ridiculous when the angels suddenly turned into Wesley Snipes and Jet Li – kung fuing the evil Sodomites with their dazzling sword play. Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt was the only scene they didn’t rewrite. Laughable! I try to avoid serious discussions about the Bible with devout Christians because it always comes down to my belief that the Old Testament is a long litany of hate crimes and war crimes. I am a modern man and I happen to believe that offering your daughters to a crowd of rapists or murdering every single man, woman, and child in a city are bad things. I like Jesus. His predecessors you can keep.

  • austin

    Can I have a different avatar in the future? I’m not THAT angry!

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