Well, I made it through all five episodes of this ‘epic’ miniseries and can breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t know if I could handle another round of glaring deviations from, and ‘interesting’ additions to the actual text of the Bible. In this last episode the worst of those started after the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the representations of which weren’t that bad.
The first huge disappointment was at the appearance of Jesus to the disciples, and Thomas’ recognition of Jesus. Rather than the hugely significant confession by Thomas in which he recognized Jesus as “My Lord and my God!” we are given more of a simple “It’s you!” moment. Considering that the demonstration of the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism was omitted in the miniseries, it’s perfectly consistent that Thomas’ proclamation was also left out.
Then we have Pentecost. In the film version, instead of the Holy Spirit coming to a group of followers patiently waiting as Jesus had told them to do, ‘it’ (that’s right – the Holy Spirit is called ‘it’ in the film) came to a group that seemed to be upset it was taking so long. The Holy Spirit did come with a mighty rushing wind, which was also apparent to everyone in the streets, but the ‘tongues of fire’ were completely absent.
The disciples’ speaking in tongues was portrayed as unlearned real languages that could be understood by the people in the streets of Jerusalem, and that was good. Perhaps not so good was depicting the disciples speaking in unknown languages to the crowds outside through the walls of the room. Completely absent was Peter’s impassioned speech in those same streets, in which he not only accused the listeners of crucifying Christ, but also commanded them to repent and be baptized.
Next we have the healing of the beggar and the arrest of Peter and John, followed by their appearance before the ruling council and religious elders. In this scene Peter does give credit to Jesus for the healing of the beggar, but he also says that Jesus didn’t die! Also completely absent is Peter’s second accusatory sermon and the declaration that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven by which men may be saved.
We now fast forward to the episode of the arrest and stoning of Stephen, in which Stephen declares, concerning Jesus, “They tried to kill Jesus, but they failed! Well, words are words and those words say that Jesus was not killed. More confusion, even if they really meant that Jesus was raised from the dead.
Leap forward again to the conversion of Saul, who is baptized by Ananias in the name of Jesus and told that God had chosen him to ‘change the world’. In Acts 9, however, there isn’t an account of Paul’s baptism, nor was Paul told to be a ‘world changer’ by Ananias.
Fast forward one more time to a scene in which Paul is mingling with other believers who are quite skeptical about Paul’s conversion, which would be quite natural considering Paul’s history as Saul and persecution of the church. Paul is apparently accepted by the crowd after he delivers a speech about love that sounds just like 1 Corinthians 13, which in reality was in a letter he wrote to the church at Corinth.
That’s all we see of Paul’s missionary career, leaving you with the impression that Paul’s beloved gospel was nothing more than the gospel according to the Beatles and “all we need is love” to change the world.
‘Nuff said. Part 5 confirmed my earlier fears that The Bible would completely miss the overarching story of redemption that begins in Genesis and runs through Revelation, as well as the specific message that fallen men are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone. According to The Bible, Jesus came to this Earth to be the great ‘world changer’, the one who would succeed where all of Israel’s previous leaders had failed. The end. Th….th…..th…..that’s all, folks!
If you missed some of the TV episodes, or just want to watch them again, there will probably be reruns on The History Channel. If you miss those and/or you like to waste money, you can purchase the series on DVD and/or Blue-ray for around $50.00, as well as ‘The Bible TV Series 30-Day Experience DVD Study’, for under $17.00. Alternatively, or in conjunction with purchasing the aforementioned DVD/Blue-ray products you can also buy the companion novel, “A Story of God and All of Us”, which is – you guessed it – based on the miniseries.
What was the purpose of this miniseries again?