‘The Bible’ to Premiere on Sunday

The History Channel will premiere The Bible on Sunday, the first installment of a ten part miniseries acting out the stories of the Bible.

I was supposed to talk to the producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, but got sidelined by the flu. Still, this interview was made available to me and has some interesting tidbits:

ROMA: Our faith is very important to us, and we both love the Bible. We love its stories of love and redemption and God’s heart and hope for his people. So Mark and I started talking over breakfast one morning about how someone really needed to bring this love story to the screen, to tell the overarching story of the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation. We were excited to be able to bring our combined talents and strengths, creativity and experience to the series, and we were both involved in all areas of making it. This was our first professional collaboration as husband and wife. We worked closely on this for three years, and we’re still speaking to each other!

Q: What’s unique about this adaptation of the The Bible?

MARK: There’s a tremendous legacy of depictions of the Bible, both on the big and small screen, from King of Kings and The Ten Commandments all the way through The Passion of The Christ.   Our desire was to tell these unforgettable stories through the use of live action combined with state-of-the-art CGI techniques.

 ROMA: We filmed in Morocco because we wanted the feel of the real locations in the Bible, and the landscape there provided it. We augmented that with CGI work in order to render as faithfully as humans can the miraculous power of God. Those who’ve seen parts of the series have been very gracious and complimentary about how the two approaches have meshed together.

How did you determine who to consult with on this, and will you talk a little about the writing process?

MARK: There is no shortage of people who know the Bible – chapter and verse – better than we do. That’s why we worked from the beginning with scholars, theologians and pastors of varying denominational stripes.  With their help and guidance and the expertise of our team of writers, we pray we have captured the heart of the biblical stories that move and inspire so many.

ROMA: We don’t claim to be Bible teachers; that’s a role reserved for churches and pastors. We simply hope to be Bible illuminators, capturing the essence and inspiration of the Scriptures we love.

 What new insights into your faith did you gain from this experience?

MARK: That the Bible is a love story. The story of God’s love for his people. We’re called to be instruments of that love on earth in the short time we’re here.

ROMA: We wrote some books as companions to the series – including a devotional that captures our thoughts and reflections about how making this series gave us a deeper appreciation for the Bible and for each other as husband and wife.

Was there an instance where you initially envisioned a certain angle to a segment, but when it was under way, you felt led to take a different approach?

ROMA: Whenever we faced a challenge of any kind on set, or any bit of uncertainty on how to proceed, we stopped to pray. We asked friends to pray. God answered those prayers.

MARK: This project started with prayer and was sustained by prayer.

What will your next project be?

ROMA: Sleep!

MARK: What she said!

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a movie critic. Check out her work on Rotten Tomatoes. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • P Havens

    I am sure that Burnett and Downey are sincere in their faith and their desire to depict the Bibilical stories for a new audience. I cannot, however, believe that their writers in any way consulted with scholars in writing the first part. I turned it off after seeing Moses with his sandals on hearing God speak through the burning bush and seeing a lamb, not a ram, being caught as the sacrifice for Isaac. And the story line that was completely fabricated of Moses injuring the young Pharaoh, who then carried the grudge of that injury, was ridiculous and contrary to Scripture, which simply says that Pharaoh’s “heart was hardened.”

    The Bible is dramatic enough without fabrication and needs accuracy in its depiction. There are reasons for the details given in the stories. They are not just for show or emphasis, they point to Christ or to God’s love or holiness or some other metaphor or symbol. People need to understand this and these need to be shown. Very sad that they couldn’t stick to the Scripture.

  • GarlicClove

    While the concept sounds fascinating, I’m not entirely sure how comfortable I am with this being shown on the History Channel. Will they be providing historical context to the mini-series or simply presenting a literal adaptation of the Bible? Will the show be presenting the events of the Bible as an unquestionable history, or a period drama like their last mini-series Hatfields and Mcoys? What sort of historical research did the writers do outside of using the Bible as source materiel? Will they make concessions in places where the Bible and history don’t jive?
    Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see some of these stories fleshed out and their players brought to life. I am just not sure a mini-series that utilizes a literal translation of the bible should be placed on the History Channel without some discussion of biases and historical accuracy within the text. Perhaps another one of the channels owned by the same conglomerate (Fox for example) where the majority of shows are fictional in nature might have been more appropriate.

    • Sagrav

      The History Channel is filled with shows about Atlantis and aliens. In their mini-series about Greek mythology, they stated that Jehovah and Jesus overcame Zeus and the Olympians, and it didn’t really sound like they were just presenting a metaphor for the conversion of ancient Hellenists to Christianity.

      Do yourself a favor: Expect very little in the way of quality or accuracy from the History Channel.

      • GarlicClove

        True. I guess I should be grateful it’s not another Bigfoot hunter’s show.

  • vorjack

    I look forward to this series. I’m confident that the History Channel will do for the Bible what they did for ancient astronauts, alien autopsies and frozen lake truckers.

  • Ginger

    After watching this mini series about the Bible for a short time, I soon realized that roma Downey & Mark Burnett were not in fact sticking to the facts in the Bible. How very disappointing that they had to change & embellish so much for no real reason. Abraham’s wife Sarah is described in the Bible as a very beautiful woman. On their screen she is depicted as a dirty, slovenly, homely street person dressed in a crappy brown thing. Lot & his wife look like dirty beggars. I cannot believe this horrible misrepresentation of the Bible is getting rave reviews. It’s disgusting!
    Shame on Downey & Burnett for possibly the worst ‘bible’ movie ever!

  • rumitoid

    I was looking forward to watching this series but was quite disappointed with the casting: the actors were, sorry, terrible. Abraham was a severe disappointment. I would watch for five minutes, not be able to stand another second, turn the channel, then go back, hoping it would be better, and have to leave quickly again. I will try again with the next installment yet I am not optimistic.

  • Darren

    When can we expect the Historical Koran, Ramayana, and Book of Mormon?


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