First Thoughts about The History Channel Series ‘The Bible’

Yesterday evening I watched the first installment of THC’s The Bible and came away with mixed feelings. Which feelings are relevant or accurate is anyone’s guess at this point and depends on the perspective from which a person watches the epic tale. I watched it from the perspective of a person who has read the source document multiple times in different translations, as well as one who has engaged is serious Bible study more than just occasionally. I was therefore interested in both literal Biblical accuracy and the faithfulness of the stories that would be told to the text and context of the Bible.

I realized that I might need to immediately adjust my expectations as well as my opinion when at the very beginning viewers were provided this disclaimer:

“This program is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world. It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book.”

One review I read called that a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Perhaps it was and perhaps it wasn’t. It might just have been an honest goal, considering that inspiring thousands (if not millions) of viewers to pick up a bible and actually read it was also a goal, according to an interview I read. However, I would expect someone who ends up reading the Bible might end up with an often repeated thought running through his/her brain that sounds something like: “Well, that‘s a bit different than that TV series I saw!"

I found myself numerous times thinking "Well, that part is not in the book!" as I watched the first segment. The most notable instance was undoubtedly when the ‘destroying angels who wreaked havoc in Sodom went all ‘ninja’ with two edged swords and left numerous bloody dead bodies lying in the city street.

I have to admit that the scene in Sodom was as I expected it would be when they portrayed the men of Sodom clamoring at Lot’s door demanding to be handed the angels, but didn’t mention their stated purpose in wanting to have sex with them, at least according to every Bible translation I’ve read. I cannot however stand in judgment on the saga’s producers concerning their motive in leaving out those details, although I have ‘ratings related’ suspicions.

As usual with these sorts of things, I was also asking the question “What about the gospel?” as I watched the stories from the books of Genesis and Exodus and knowing that all 66 books of the Bible have to do ultimately with Jesus Christ, the savior of God’s people, either prophetically in the Old testament or literally in the New Testament. That aspect was missing in this segment, but the series is just beginning. Perhaps when the series nears its end in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Savior, that connection will be emphasized and viewers will be further encouraged to read the Bible for themselves.

Sadly, I have doubts that the ‘gospel connection’ will be communicated to the many viewers who will watch the entire series. Roma Downey stated that her favorite character in the entire series is Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom she portrays. That’s of course understandable, since she is a devout Catholic.

Without passing judgment at this juncture, I will say that the saga will undoubtedly open a lot of doors for discussion, which could in turn lead to talking about spiritual matters, which could lead to a clear presentation of the gospel, It’s also a more fitting film as a backdrop for preaching a sermon than many others used in today’s movie based sermons that seem to permeate the evangelical landscape. Green Lantern, anyone?

If you think ‘permeate’ is too strong a word, just Goggle something like ‘movie based sermons’ and see what it generates.

I’ll let it rest for now and keep watching.

9 responses to “First Thoughts about The History Channel Series ‘The Bible’

  1. Good first review. Thank you. Remember not to hold your breath waiting for certain things to be told. Tell Dee, no breath holding for her either.

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    • Chris Rosebrough over at Fighting for the Faith has begun reviewing the series, and none too kindly. While I do agree with much of what he has to say, I remain ‘stuck’ with the notion of using the series as a conversation starter for getting to a clear presentation of the gospel!

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