Life is beautiful and imperfect, a source of wonder and a challenge so complex that it’s good to pause from time to time and check our perspective and priorities against eternal truth. Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, is full of daily insight and wisdom that promises to help you navigate today’s culture.
The highly anticipated five-week miniseries, The Bible, debuts this coming Sunday, March 3, on the History Channel.
Produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice) and his wife Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) the ten-hour presentation is a dramatic and ambitious project. It’s also a labor of love for the Burnetts, who began this endeavor with a noble and classically evangelistic goal: to encourage people to read the Bible.
Let’s face it - it takes some moxie to lift up the Bible in the middle of Hollywood. In fact, when they first proposed the project they were told to try and tell the story without mentioning Jesus. They refused, rightly countering, of course, that not only is it impossible to omit Jesus, but that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the climax of the entire book!
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Mark and Roma over the last six months. In the process we’ve become friends. It’s always inspiring to be around people who have a fervent desire to tell other people about Jesus. And this couple is clearly passionate about sharing the message of Jesus with the world as well as having the opportunity to put on film the greatest story ever told, come what may from those who may object to it.
“It’s our story,” said Roma Downey. “We can identify and relate with the characters, because their situations might be 2,000 years ago, but the things that they’re feeling and experiencing, the dynamics that are going on within their families, it’s the same issues that we have today. Human nature hasn’t changed that much. The mistakes that the characters are making back then, we’re still making those mistakes today.”
Because it’s impossible to tell the entire story of the Bible in just ten hours, you might notice that some creative license has been taken from time to time. For example, we know the Magi didn’t visit Jesus until he was approximately two-years-old, but in the miniseries you’ll see them honoring the infant Jesus upon his birth. In short, though, you should know the series never deviates from prevailing themes.
I want to share a clip with you, but on the eve of this television debut, may I ask you a favor, please?
I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. I believe we should treat the Scriptures with the utmost degree of care and respect. I also know that some people object to any artistic rendering of Jesus because of the limited nature of art and the fact that Jesus has no limits.
But I also believe that we’re living in a dark day when millions of people, including our neighbors and even many of our family and friends, refuse to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Many of these same people refuse to go to church. They refuse to open a Bible. But many of these people watch television. That The Bible may serve as a spark to rekindle or kindle their faith should be a source of great excitement for all of us.
I hope people don’t lose sight of the big picture, that this series is designed to turn people to Jesus and to encourage them to dig deeper into their Bibles.
Here’s the clip I promised, and in the meantime, I hope you might consider watching the series and telling others about it, especially your non-believing friends. You would also want to know this Friday's Focus on the Family radio broadcast will feature an exclsuive interview that John Fuller and I conducted with Mark and Roma.
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I just watched the clip on the Bible series soon to be aired on the History Channel, and wanted to comment. On the one hand I can applaud and appreciate a major TV program that focuses on the Bible, and I could hope that it would inspire people to read a Bible after viewing the series. However, I am already put off by the 2 clips Focus aired. Neither are accurate regarding the reading of Scripture in the action/drama nor the words/script. What a disappointment! If these are the ones selected to garner our (Christians) enthusiasm and support, what further distortions will we have to endure. In addition,the commentary on the series tells us that the Christmas account is not accurate either. What's the value in perpetuating unBiblical accounts of Bible stories? After watching the series people will more likely feel that they DO NOT have to read the Bible! Just as they do after watching a movie based on a book. Why is Focus promoting this?
Thankfully, the Lord knows our hearts, and thankfully He uses us for His purposes, despite our shortcomings - his grace is perfect! I'm grateful for those who sought to glorify God with their talents and abilities when they worked on this project, and pray that God would use it for good to draw many people to Himself. May He shed light on Himself and His Word through this film.
I'm reminded how He used Joseph's evil brothers to bring him to Egypt and bless His chosen people. How much more can He use people with pure hearts and motivations to share His beautiful story, to bring about His amazing purposes. Praise Him! Let's let God judge the quality of this work:
I Corinthians: 3:12-13 "If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work."
When I set out my nativity scene at Christmas time, I set the 3 wise men near the stable, worshiping Baby Jesus, even though I know full-well, they didn't arrive for quite some time....18 months or more later? Why? Because it still tells the story. It tells the story of the importance of Christ's birth and the adoration that came from different people.
In fact, the Bible never tells us there were 3 wise men - just mentions 3 gifts - there might have been 2 wise men...or 5. How dare those nativity scene sellers! They are seeking to defraud us all! No, silly - the story is still being told!
Oh, but what about all the depictions of Mary riding on a donkey? (...in all those church plays, in all those Sunday school pictures.....) The Bible never mentions Mary riding on a donkey - not in one gospel. Perhaps she rode in a cart? Who knows? But does it matter? Of course not. The story is still being told.
Does this project tell the story of Jesus's death and resurrection? Does it tell of His power, forgiveness, and grace? If so, I'm all for it!
Let's be encouraging to our sisters and brothers in the Lord, and be quick to encourage, and slow to criticize. I'm so thankful that the Lord does that with me - His lovingkindness is good. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive.
I new about this in Janurary, from a cousin of mine who we are so close, and my hear t is aching for he has passed away about a week ago, for he wanted everyone to know about this movie, the Bible, I was so thrilled to know someone out here wants everyone to know about Jesus,For I know my cousin is with God now, and watching over us...all, I applaud all who has made this happen, for I love Roma Downey, for she was so good In Touched by and Angel...I know it's impossible to have every detail of the Bible to be shown, for that would be alot longer then what this is about, but we need people to get back to the word of God, and our children need to know also, for to many people out here are truely lost, when they don't need to be..We need to know God is our strength in everything we do, for he knows our hearts, and our needs..We cant lean on are own understanding without the help of our Lord..Reguardless what this is it will help many to waqnt to know about God more, I hope...for they don't know what they are missing...God be with all..out here...
After watching only the first installment of the miniseries on the History Channel tonight, I am confused as to why Focus on the Family is endorsing this miniseries so strongly... I understand the purpose is that this series might lead the unchurched to read the Bible or perhaps to believe, or perhaps that children might believe the Bible is not that boring after all. This is a grand hope.
Instead, what I saw made me wonder just who the writers/directors of this thought their audience really is. First of all, because the entire Bible story has to be dealt with in 10 hours, this telling becomes so inaccurate as to make people who know the Bible basically hot under the collar at the cavalier way the timeless truths of Scripture are hacked up, while, on the other hand for those that don't know the Bible, it skips critical stories which explain the flow of the history of the people of Israel (i.e., how did the people get to Egypt anyway? Surely Joseph's story might have been a grand way to explain that...), and leaves one either confused at the clumsy storyline or ready to turn the channel because things are boring ... boring because there is no real character development and interest in following the main heroes of our faith. Some characters seem mostly like one-dimensional stick figures (Abraham) and others like mad men (Moses), but I cannot say I really identified with them. In fact, I almost felt more empathy for Pharaoh when his son died, because they did a better job of fleshing out both he and his son's characters on the screen.
My other criticism involves some scenes of graphic brutality that were NOT fit for children to see -- so much for drawing children in an appropriate manner -- and the casting of characters. Wow, does this leave anyone else rather stunned? Do you really think it adds to world-wide appeal to have a Noah with a Scottish brogue or an Aussie Abraham? Some of the more unappealing characters like Lot and his wife look semitic, while all the central people we are supposed to love are typical caucasian. As for the Asian, sword-wielding, martial arts expert angel? P-l-l-l-e-e-e-e-z-z-z-!!
It seems there will be more of this in what is to come; video previews show Jesus looks like the typical European and not Jewish at all. Surely in trying to be accurate, we could actually have some middle eastern parts played by middle eastern actors with authenticity and integrity ... I really just have to ask, "what is wrong in making Jesus Jewish?" -- He was, you know. :-) Further, Isaiah the prophet says there was not anything about Jesus' physical appearance that would draw men to Him, and yet here we have an unbelievably beautiful, ethereal Jesus. Instead, what is wrong with just portraying Jesus during his ministry years as Scripture does -- an unassuming-looking Hebrew man in the prime of his life? It is what He was inside that attracted us to Him, anyway -- not a worldly, outward beauty -- but the true beauty of a life totally committed to God, walking in truth and purity of the Word and the Spirit. We desperately need that lesson taught in this era of shallow, physical beauty, and not more of the same compromised "Hollywood-ese." I ask only that our Lord God please teach us to be more discerning as we watch this "compromise" screen adaptation of the Bible.
We watched the first two episodes of the "Bible" and have thoroughly enjoyed it. We keep our BIbles open and ready to check the validity of what is being shown, and have found only minor insignificant errors. I hope the next 3 are as good as the first two.
I don't mind so much that the casting wasn't authentic; any ethnicity for the characters is just as well, provided that they stay true to the characters. The same goes for missing parts, and modernized dialogue is to be applauded, as long as they stay true to the meaning of the scriptural text. I can even overlook things like extrabiblical historical inaccuracies, like the confusing claim that Babylon opened their doors to Cyrus (he actually diverted the river and proceeded to sneak in through the now-dry riverbed that fed the city, during the famous handwriting on the wall incident).
No, what gets me about this series is character assassination, and I really only have two examples here (from what I've seen, anyway; I haven't seen all the episodes).
First, this series takes what are arguably the 5 most important minutes of Saul's and David's lives - this being their responses to God's correction - and swaps them. In this series, we have Saul begging for forgiveness after Samuel rebukes him for not killing all the Amalekites, and not receiving forgiveness from God, for no apparent reason (The Word of God has him asking for forgiveness, but only as a tactic to look good for the people, after other tactics have failed). This confused me at first, but it wasn't until David's rebuke after his sin with Bathsheba that I saw what they had done. For they had David trying to bargain with Nathan instead of instantly owning up to his sin, as the Bible records. So Saul begs for forgiveness and shows sorrow at what he has done - and David tries to bargain with God? No. Just no.
The other issue I have seen is that Daniel doesn't care about God - only Israel. He advises Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (they actually used their Hebrew names in the series which was nice, but their Chaldean names are more recognizable) to bow to the idol (actually, it sounds like they've been bowing for a while, but this is the point at which they've "had enough") in order to preserve their positions in the king's court. Now, Daniel isn't mentioned in this story in the Bible, and scholars have no conclusive explanation for why not; but one thing I can tell you is that it definitely was not because Daniel was complicit. Then, later, they have Daniel buttering up Cyrus. No. Just no. Daniel was beloved by Cyrus because he was an honest man who did his job right, not because he was a flatterer. Also, Daniel also had nothing to do with Judah's return from captivity, as the series asserts, and why did they invent a new vision for Daniel out of whole cloth, when there were so many real visions recorded that they could have used instead?
The changes made to Scripture in the mini-series were not required to tell a 10 hour story of the Bible. In Sunday School for children, we often tell the story within a story in the Bible, in ten minutes, accurately, cohesively, intelligently, for His glory. I do not see where this movie glorified the Lord. God tells us not to change His Word. My husband and I have always supported FOF, but this greatly concerns us. God's Word is incredible as it is. it needs no artistic license to make it better....or to tell a portion of the stories of the Bible. The pastor gives sermons week by week, Bible teachers give less than one hour lessons, in the entirety of Biblical content, succintly, and accurately, which thereby God powerfully uses to change lives.
The scene about Lot with the angels sword fighting with the citizens of Sodom was not only inaccurate, but misrepresented the love God had for a people who need Him. Instead it told the audience that God is out to get them. That is a misrepresentation. I've seen a lot of comments on-line from non-believers, all negative. No wonder.
I'm sad to say that this seems to be a work of man instead of the work of God.
I'm disheartened, what a missed opportunity to reach the world.