Putting a bit of the New Testament into the Old

Putting a bit of the New Testament into the Old February 11, 2013

I just came across a few more videos from The Bible, the mini-series that premieres on the History Channel next month.

In one, the actress who plays Samson’s mother describes her character as “a woman who’s been given a gift from God of a very special child who’s predestined to do very special things, and I guess that’s a little connection to another story that we all know very well.” She goes on to say, “I guess I found it difficult to embody a character who knows that her child is going to die.”

That’s an interesting detail, as the biblical version of Samson’s mother is given no such knowledge. She knows her child will be special, but not that he will die. So it seems the filmmakers may be making her even more like the Virgin Mary — which makes you wonder if they’re going to make Samson more of a Christ-figure, too, and thus more pious or noble than the somewhat buffoonish character who appears in the Bible.

Meanwhile, in the other video, we get a glimpse of the three angels who visit Abraham to tell him that his wife will have a son — and it seems that these angels might represent the three major racial groups, just as the Three Wise Men have long been depicted in art and film as representatives of the Asian, African and European continents (or, if you prefer, as descendents of Shem, Ham and Japheth).

This, of course, would not be the first time that filmmakers have borrowed elements from later scriptures to inform earlier ones. In the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments, for example, a star proclaims the birth of Moses, just as a star proclaimed the birth of Jesus; and in the 1928 version of Noah’s Ark, God speaks to Noah on a mountain — through a burning bush! — just like he did for Moses.

These video clips reveal a few other interesting details as well.

For starters, there is the fact that Sharon Duncan-Brewster, the actress playing Samson’s mother, will be playing her character from youth to old age, and the make-up on her is pretty good — which makes you wonder why they didn’t take the same approach for the Virgin Mary, who will apparently be played by two different actresses: one, whose name I do not know, for the Nativity sequence, and another, co-producer Roma Downey, for the sequences when Jesus is grown-up.

Then there are the angels, who apparently protect Lot’s family (and themselves) from the would-be rapists of Sodom and Gomorrah by using swords rather than anything more, y’know, supernatural. I guess swords are more “exciting”.

I have included links to the videos above, but I will embed them here, too. First, Samson’s mother:

Next, the “guardian angels”:

Finally, I also found a third video, on Abraham:

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