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Sunday, March 03, 2013

"The Bible, on The History Channel"

What a sad waste. The History Channel is airing a massively-hyped, 5-part, television mini series called "The Bible" in which they are re-visualizing the Christian Bible ("with stories from Genesis to Revelation"). It's a major undertaking indeed, full of great stories to tell, and iconic well-known characters. However, there's a big problem: they've gotten it all wrong.

They've turned their re-telling of the Bible into a "Lord Of The Rings" type adventure saga, with spectacular visual effects... and the obligatory "Trust in God" comments from the "Biblical heroes" (aka, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc). Unfortunately, though, there's no substance. None. Their entire two hour re-telling (so far) resigns God to being a super-powerful presence that uses awesome events just to "save his people" from oppression.

Never once in these stories are we told why God does these things. Never once are we told about our deep-seeded sin and our need for salvation from that sin, nor even God's promise of Christ as our Savior. It's all: "the Israelites are God's people... they are oppressed.... God must show his spectacular might to save them from bad people, and make them more powerful than the people that are not God's people." That's not what the Bible is about.

The series starts with a few minutes featuring a Gaelic Noah -- as if Noah is the beginning of the Bible (or even Gaelic), and then moves on to a longer segment about Abraham. It fails to depict the reality of Creation, as well as Adam and Eve, the Fall into sin, or, most of all, God's first promise of Salvation from sin.
There's no Tower of Babel; no mention of the rampant, disgusting evil in Sodom and Gomorrah; nothing about Jacob and Essau; Jacob wrestling God; not even Joseph in Egypt -- all important illustrations in the Bible. And on top of that, it depicts the angels sent from God as ninja-like warriors who brutally hack and slash those who oppose them in their mission. And it goes out of it's way to feature pointless blood-spatter battles, merely for the sake of drama.

And, after glossing over the plagues in Egypt, there is no mention about the symbolism as to *why* the angel of death passed over the Israelite houses during the final plague. And, even worse, absolutely NOTHING is said about the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. Just the obligatory (and visually stunning) crossing of the Red Sea, followed by the celebratory "Yay! We aren't slaves in Egypt anymore!" Then we see Moses receiving "the Ten Commandments" from God on Mount Sinai (with nothing about what he saw when he came down from the mountain, nor even the purpose of, or reason for, those ten commandments). And then, right after Moses on Mount Sinai, we see.... "Forty Years Later".... there was a military man named Joshua.


As a Christian, this whole "The Bible" series saddens me. Sickens me even. As expected, this History Channel series completely misses the point of the Bible. But what's worse, I've been following the viewer response on Twitter during the show. Thousands of people (seriously, "#TheBible" is trending right now) have been saying things like: "Best retelling of the Bible EVER!"; "Wow, they really got the Bible right this time!"; "This is the best thing I've ever seen on television!"; even this from @micahlivingH20: "'The Bible' is how I imagine our history being, not that 'Sunday-school' childish stuff. The Bible isn't boring- it is real and intense!"

99% of the people watching "The Bible" don't seem to realize it's watered-down and completely lacking in true Biblical meaning. That's just sad. Heart-wrenchingly sad.

I'll be honest, "The Bible" on The History Channel is crap. Especially from a Christian perspective -- or even from the perspective of anyone who has actually read the Bible. And to think this series is produced by Roma Downey, a proclaimed Christian who considers herself "a devout Catholic".

Like I said, a complete waste; a false, frighteningly incomplete, intensely overly-dramatic representation of the Bible. And certainly not a series about any Christian Bible I've read. In truth, I shudder to think how they'll visualize the New Testament -- especially with Roma Downey playing the part of "the Virgin Mary".

I did a little more research into this presentation of "The Bible". Over-dramatic is an understatement. Here's a 4-minute teaser of the entire 5-part series. Over-dramatic? You tell me.

And, finally, here's an article (featured on the official "The Bible" website) that sheds a little light into the motivations behind Roma Downey and her husband producing this project:

"Mark Burnett, Roma Downey promo "Bible" mini to faithful"

 Here's my favorite quote from the linked article:
"As the [sole] owners of the mini[series], Burnett and Downey stand to profit handsomely if its built-in appeal to Christian auds yields a huge TV turnout that in turn fuels homevid sales and other aftermarket releases. That scenario buoyed Mel Gibson’s 2004 pic “The Passion of the Christ” and, more recently, 2009 Sandra Bullock starrer “The Blind Side.”
Ah. So it *is* about connecting with a Christian audience and making lots of money from them. It's a shame that profit, merchandising, selling three related books (including a novel), DVD and Blu-ray releases, a shortened world-wide theatrical release, small-group viewing party kits (priced at $9.99 complete with an  "I live the Bible" wristband), elaborate movie viewing event package kits for churches that want to hold large-scale viewing events (starting at $199, depending upon the size of the church), sermon guides, classroom materials (to serve as "teaching tools"), and other products are the primary goal of this 5-part "The Bible" remake.

I could avoid all this merchandising, and just.... you know..... read the Bible itself -- for free. And I would be getting the best, most accurate re-telling of these very same Bible stories.

I hate to say this, but another Bible story comes to mind with all this. It's titled, "Jesus Clears the Temple", and it can be found in multiple sources, including this one: Mark 11:15-19.

Making a reasonable profit for your own hard work is one thing. Christ encourages hard work in the Bible. But "repackaging" the Bible (which is not your own creation), and selling it for as much money as you can possibly make is another. Christ angrily drove merchants and money changers out of the Temple for using his house of prayer for financial means. I have to wonder what he thinks about "reinterpreting" the Bible for the very same reasons.


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I have the same sentiments about "The Bible". Thanks for clearly articulating my views as well. This was a very bad misrepresentation of God's Holy Word.....I am appalled!! The couple has been all over Christian radio promoting this, shame on them!!

By Anonymous Katen White, at 1:13 PM, March 04, 2013  

You're very welcome. The depressingly sad part of all this is that, with so many people praising "The Bible" as "the best Bible series ever produced", I fear it may end up doing a lot more harm than good to the general understanding of the Christian Bible.

And that makes sharing what the Bible *actually* says a lot harder for those of us who don't rely on movies to shape our Christian faith.

By Anonymous Jon Baas, at 2:28 PM, March 04, 2013  

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