“Read the book…it’s far better!”

Posted: March 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

That statement is made quite often any time a major movie is made based upon a book.  From Harry Potter to Twilight to the Bourne Trilogy to The Lord of the Rings, and the list goes on and on.  Movies never seem to live up to the images created by the human imagination as words on a page come to life.

It’s not that I think the Bible mini-series on History Channel (Sunday evenings, 8PM) is not worth watching.  In fact, in many ways, it may be a very worthwhile watch for you, especially if you’ve found yourself wishing for something to get back into the Word.  But whatever you do, remember that these ten hours are Hollywood and not the divinely inspired Word itself.

Maybe that’s the problem with putting the Bible into a movie: with Hollywood, ratings tend to be king and adjustments need to be made in order to “appeal to the masses.”  Assuming the best construction on things (after all, the couple behind this 10-hour mini-series are professed Christians), the reason behind any variances seen is nothing more than poetic license and time constraint rather than an intentional demeaning of our God’s precious Word given to us for our salvation.

That being said, as you watch these ten-hours of religious television, it might be handy to have your Bibles sitting on your laps open to the respective portions of God’s Word; there are bound to be errors, or chapters skimmed over or skipped entirely.  For instance, this past Sunday evening, as the first two hours aired, there were a few things that stuck out to me.

Number one was the portrayal of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  It’s a minor thing, but I think kudos should go to the producers for not taking the stereotypical route and making the fruit an apple.  (cf. Genesis 3 for the Fall into Sin)

Next was the portrayal of Noah and his family.  While its entirely possible that people aged differently in Noah’s day, but let’s remember that Noah was 601 years old by the time he exited the ark, not sixty-something.  Likewise his children would have been older than their early twenties.  And the rainbow appeared after the waters had receded and Moses had exited and offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving, not when the waters stopped rising.  (cf. Genesis 6-9 for the story of The Flood)

There are other smaller details that are not scripturally accurate – Abraham’s age when first called to leave his homeland (75 – not 45ish), his name (it wasn’t changed from Abram to Abraham till much later – same with Sarai), the age of Isaac when he was sacrificed (most likely about sixteen), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (their sin was sexual – cf. Genesis 19 – and not mainly violence), nor do I think that God’s angels were sword-wielding warriors so much as messengers of God’s coming judgment.  But that’s not as interesting to watch as two swords cutting through Sodomites who would stop Lot and his family from escaping, would it?

Perhaps the most disappointing to me was the fact that Abraham’s story centered around his faithfulness to God instead of God’s promises of grace and blessing to Abraham.  More than once, the narrator could be heard making a statement similar to “God asked Abraham to prove his faith.”  Yet, never was there anything regarding the promise of future blessing through Abraham’s son, Isaac.  The story of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac would have been the perfect time to bring in God’s promise that he would bless all the people’s of the earth by sacrificing his own Son, Jesus.  Or perhaps, even before that, the promise that Abraham would have a son was much more: I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:2-3).

This promise is significant because it pointed to the great blessing brought about by Jesus’ death and resurrection.  To me, its disappointing that these Gospel promises are not included early on in the mini-series, especially knowing that the series will end with Jesus’ death and resurrection on Easter Sunday evening.  Why not bookend the series with the truth that God blesses all people on earth through his Son’s blood and resurrection?  I think they missed a golden opportunity there.

It bears repeating  that despite some of these shortcomings, it is fairly obvious that the creators of this mini-series hold to the Bible and hold it completely as truth – and that’s more than I can say for other reactions I’ve heard.  I just finished watching “The O’Reilly Factor” after Lenten worship, and had to check my blood pressure after watching Bill interact with a Baptist minister.  It’s disappointing to hear any on TV, especially those who are more economist than theologian, spout off personal beliefs about scriptural events being merely allegorical instead of truth – and all under the guise of stating such belief is a perfectly acceptable Christian viewpoint.  If stories like Creation, the Flood, the Ten Plagues and Exodus from Egypt are allegorical, then where does the slippery slope of Scripture as fiction end?  With the virgin birth, or the promise of forgiveness through Jesus’ blood, or the resurrection, or the certain hope of heaven?

Praise God that he has revealed to us the truth which Jesus spoke the night before he died – Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17).

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