Bible Series Segment 1:Creation through Exodus

Mark Burnett, The Bible series co-producer (with Roma Downey), said he undertook this History Channel project because the Bible is easily the greatest book in the world’s history. As such, he is accomplishing literary theater rather than doing theology. Perhaps this was most evident in the first installment when there was considerable emphasis on the role of Lot and his wife while the stories of Jacob and Joseph were completely omitted. Collectively, the portions presented seemed to repeat a particular pattern— God’s leaders were consistently driven to their wits’ ends only to have God intervene at the last moment to destroy resistance while moving the remnant people forward. Noah, Abraham, and Moses each reiterated ‘God will provide,’ while imploring followers to ‘have faith.’

To date, is The Bible series a good introduction to people who have little or no Bible knowledge? What value is it to those who watch from a fundamentally-familiar or well-informed perspective? What ‘jumped off’ the screen when you watched? Questions, comments, observations?


3 responses

  1. With respect to the first two segments:
    1. I want to say that they are airing. It might get a few more interested in finding more about Creator and Jesus.
    2.During each episode my response has been…
    –Why did they skip over that? Why did they leave that out?
    –That’s a different way to take the story than I think about when I read it!
    –Whoa! they changed the personality of the main character. Example, They cleaned up Sampson a whole lot. And they left out about how mean and nasty Delilah was. The Bible explanation about how Sampson took down the temple at his death was more detailed.
    But then…I have to remember that it takes me a year to read the whole Bible and Apocrypha. And the producers have to cover the whole Bible in 10 hours. Shut up Dick May and enjoy their work.
    So far I haven’t spotted anything where the meanings are not true to the Bible. I think it is good enough to buy the CD-s and use it as a basis for a Bible study, giving us Bible thumpers chances to fill in what we think they left out. I think this would be a good opportunity to open it to the other churches around us and also the agnostic community.

  2. Dick questions, Why did they skip over that? Why did they leave that out? I ask the same questions.

    In response to Pastor Luther’s questions on segment 1, I would say that this episode is not a good introduction for people who have little or no Bible knowledge because it does not use the stories to illustrate the journey of faith that is the Bible. Also, the narratives were presented disconnected from each other whereas they are woven together and should be seen that way.

    Also, to return to Dick’s question, Why did they leave that out?” neither Bill nor I remember any snake in the story of Adam and Eve. (Perhaps, given our memories, we should not have deleted each episode as we watched it :-). . . .) How can you delve into the essential teaching of this story when the devil is not present and temptation is not faced?

    Why did the series open with Noah? I did appreciate the visually dramatic telling of a tiny bit of this story, but the filmmaker emphasized the violent sea voyage instead of taking time to explain why Noah and his family were in this situation. The scouting trips that the raven and then the dove undertook are inherently suspenseful and dramatic and at the same time are central theologically; they would have been a better choice.

    One comment about the strong violence: At the outset, I felt disturbed by so much violence but then thought that it was appropriate. Most likely the real-life violence millennia ago was even more intense.

    One of my CLAY friends questioned, “Is this series kid-friendly because of the violence?(Think of the scene where Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son.) Her comment leads us back to the original question, which asks if this series, or at least the episodes aired so far, is a good introduction to the Bible.

    Abbe Skones

  3. I saw it coming.

    A fair-skinned man with European features yet once again cast in the role of Jesus.

    As far as I know, this depiction is not accurate. Jesus, having been born 2000+ years ago, would have had Semitic features. I doubt that at that time there was intermarriage between Semitic and Nordic peoples; without such intermarriage, Jesus could not have had blue, hazel, or grey eyes and fair skin, and yet actors and the plastic arts frequently show him with those features.

    This Eurocentric portrayal is not merely a cosmetic concern. It goes to the critical question of inclusion vs. exclusion.

    Currently–Thanks be to God!–Christians of all races and ethnicities grace our globe, and when showing the Jesus who is completely human, living in a human body for the time He is with us, His physical appearance does having meaning for us. Whereas Christians not of European background have over many years accustomed themselves to a fair-eyed, light-skinned Jesus, how often do we Christians of European descent have the opportunity to look into a divine black or brown face shining with compassion and mercy?

    Perhaps the Kingdom’s coming can be hastened by our acceptance of all our brothers and sisters, depicted in a multiracial Son of Man who fed us, healed us, and grace-fully loved us–and continues to love us–without discrimination.

    A note: A number of years ago there was a TV program called Nothing Sacred. The series was about a young, energetic Catholic priest who was committed to his small urban congregation. In the part of an episode I saw, someone from the community had entered the worship space when it was closed and had painted all of the very white-skinned statues black. What a gutsy statement!

    This show was one of the very few programs that show mainstream religion in a positive light. I wonder why this is and what we, as consumers of media, can do to change that. But that’s a topic for another day.

    Abbe Skones

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