I just watched the first double episode of the 10 episode series “The Bible”, which has recently been aired in the US. My overall reaction is very positive! It’s very professionally made, but the best thing is that it takes the Bible at face value and presents all of it as history. There is no worrying about whether things really happened or not, and no watering-down of stories to reflect modern liberal interpretations.
Right from the beginning we have Noah in a proper-sized ark telling the creation account to his family, with visuals showing as he narrates through (in case you were wondering, Noah had a Scottish accent!). The flood was shown as a global event, with footage of the whole earth covered by water. The fall of Adam and Eve is explained, and the reason for the flood is explained as well, setting up the rest of the Bible.
Then we have Abraham, who is also well represented. The story takes a very human aspect, particularly with the rivalry between Sarah and Hagar, and the emotions of Abraham and Isaac in the near-sacrifice of Isaac were also done very well.
The show is very much American, as best shown by the scene where Abraham and his men creep up on Lot and his people to try to rescue them from capture. Abraham makes SWAT team hand-gestures to coordinate his troops, just like something out of 24. Also, at the beginning of the later episodes of the show (which I haven’t watched in full yet) we get the narrator saying “Previously, on The Bible”, which is hilarious.
Another example of this is the three angels who meet Abraham and then go to Sodom. They are depicted as cool action heroes, one of whom is Chinese and skilled in martial arts.
We then move on to Moses, who again is depicted well and the crossing of the Red Sea is again shown to be a miraculous event, with walls of water on each side.
Watching The Bible on TV was in many ways a lot like watching any other film adaptation of a well-loved book. You find yourself saying “nooo, why did they leave [insert favourite part here] out!”, but in practice they are cramming the whole Bible into about 7 hours so this is to be expected. Similarly, as with most film adaptations there are some minor alterations made from the text to simplify the stories. Most of these I found to be not too bad, in that it didn’t spoil the main focus of the story.
I’m definitely going to watch the rest of the series, and I think it would be wonderful if this were to be shown on terrestrial TV in the UK. I find it unlikely that any of the major UK networks will want to show it though, given that it presents the Bible as true history, and the networks will probably fear a backlash from other religious groups in the country complaining that their religious text hasn’t been given the same airtime. It’s shown on the History channel in the US and I expect it will probably stay there for the UK, meaning only about 3 people will watch it. Perhaps the DVD will fare better, though.
I’m not going to rant about any minor details that they got wrong. The overwhelming truth is that this was a production of the highest quality expressing the Bible as real history, and I pray that many will come to faith through it and will be inspired to read the real thing.