Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Take On "The Bible" Series-Parts 7 and 8

 Last week, I reviewed Parts 5 and 6 of "The Bible".  Click here to read that review or here for my review of Parts 1-4.

The Good
  • Part 7-This hour encapsulates the bulk of Jesus' three-and-a-half year ministry from it's inception until right before Holy Week.  On a broad note, I really like the way that Jesus is portrayed by Diogo Morgado.  He does a admirable job portraying Jesus as a man who is warm and inviting, revolutionary in his teachings, and utterly opposed to the religious rulers of His day.  In the opening scene of this hour, they set up the vivid contrast between the Pharisees, who were the predominate religious sect of the time and who advocated for a strict adherence to the law as a method of national salvation, and Jesus, who would preach the revolutionary concept of following God according to the spirit of the law rather than the letter. Jesus healing of the paralytic man (you can read the gospel account here.), incenses the Pharisees and exposes their cheap view of God for what it is. I also really like the way they portray the calling of Mathew, the tax collector.  In this scene Jesus tells the story of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (you can read Luke's version here) as an illustration of God's love for those who follow the spirit of the law rather than the letter, then calls Matthew to follow Him.  Although these two incidents are told at different points in the scripture, I thought it did no harm to meld them together, and actually made an effective point.  
  • Part 8-This hour tells the story of Passion Week up until Jesus' farcical trial  held before Caiaphas.  I would mention here that "The Bible" series makes several extra-biblical but helpful references to give context to Jesus' ministry, including in it's portrayal of Pontius Pilate.  Josephus tells the story of the Aqueduct riots (you can read his account here.), which is recounted in this episode.  This detail really   helps us see Pilate for the bloodthirsty man that he we.  My wife and I both enjoyed the Last Supper scene.  It was moving to see Christ grab a piece of unleavened bread, tear it and share it with His disciples, then, as they are eating it, to say, "This is my body..."  I also loved the effective way that they told the story of Christ at Gethsemane, as they juxtaposed Jesus' agonizing prayer in the garden with Caiaphas and the other priests' rote but heartless evening prayers.  Finally, the trial before Caiaphas is hard to watch, yet well-done, setting us up for the agony of Good Friday. 
The Bad
  • Part 7-In "The Bible", Mary Magdalene is portrayed as one of the disciples.  She was indeed, and so were several other women. Although Mary was not one of the twelve (as the series
    seems to imply by putting her with the guys all the time), she was in fact with Jesus almost all the time.  However, the series provides no context for how she became a disciple, and it would have been helpful if they they had told how she had been set free from demons to become a follower of Jesus.  One of the ways that Jesus was a revolutionary was the way that He had respect for women and including many of them in His ministry.  I would have loved it if they had included the lesser-known story of one of His followers named Joanna, who was actually the wife of Herod's steward! (Check out this passage in Luke for more on Jesus' female followers)  Also, I thought the scene of Lazarus' resurrection could have been done far better.  My daughter was incensed at the sloppy way that this was done, and I have to agree.  The raising of Lazarus' was the culmination of Jesus ministry, and is told in detail in John 11.  It deserved a fuller and more accurate account than was done in the series.  In the series, there is no real context for the raising of Lazarus.  They show Jesus enter the cave where Lazarus' body has been for four days, puts his hands on Lazarus' unwrapped head and tell him to get up.  In the real account, Jesus does not go into the cave and calls out in a loud voice for Lazarus to come forth, which he does to the astonishment of the crowd.  I find that the scriptural account is much more compelling than the one shown in the series.

  • Part 8-I really enjoyed this portrayal of Passion Week, and have few criticisms.  I have to say I have mixed feelings about including Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus here. Now, any student of the four gospels knows that the different events are recounted in various order, as ancient narratives did not follow the strict chronological sequence that modern biographies tend to do.  However, the only account of Nicodemus meeting with Jesus is in John 3, which was clearly at the beginning of Jesus' ministry rather than at the end.  That being said, I understand why they placed this here, as they flashed back and forth between Nicodemus the Pharisee going to Jesus and Judas (the apostate) follower of Jesus going to Caiaphas.  This was actually quite effective, yet not true to scripture in the letter.  Overall, I think it fits the spirit of the Scriptures. (So I don't want to be found the Pharisee and quibble about minutia!)
Overall-With a few exceptions, I really enjoyed this episode and the creative way that they portrayed Jesus.  He was truly a revolutionary and did indeed "change the world," and I believe they captured the essence of His ministry well.  You know that something is done well when you don't want it to end but want to see more, and I definitely didn't want it to stop where it did.  That's really the mark of a good program. I'm looking forward to Sunday night to see the amazing story of Easter!

Click here to read my review of Parts 9 and 10.

Want to read more?  Here's links to some of my more popular posts:
A Man Of A Different Spirit
Reflections On 30 Years of Marriage-Part 1
Obama's Record-Where We Are After Four Years (written right before the election)
Hosea and the 2012 Election (written right after the election)

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