Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Take On "The Bible" Series-Parts 9 and 10

This is the conclusion of a series of posts on "The Bible Series"  To start at the beginning of the series, click here.

The Good-

  • Part 9-"Passion"-This hour depicted Christ's passion and His resurrection.  I actually thought this was portrayed remarkably well.  Parts of this were pretty much word-for-word out of the Bible, while other parts took some liberties from the sacred text.  I thought Jesus' interview with Pilate was especially well-done.  I was pleased that they included the scene with Pilate's wife, in which she told her husband that she had had a dream about Jesus, and warned her husband not to have anything to do with His death.  It's an interesting biblical detail that most are unaware of.  My wife and I were especially moved by the scene with Simone of Cyrene, the man who was chosen to carry Christ's cross.  Now, we don't know exactly how all this happened, as only Luke tells this story.  The other gospels speak of Jesus carrying his own cross, so scholars extrapolate that Jesus must have fallen down while carrying the cross and Simone was ordered to pick it up at that point. What was moving to us in "The Bible" version is that they had Simone helping Jesus carry his cross, so that Jesus and Simone finished walking the Via Delorosa together.   I never thought of that possibility, but it could have indeed happened that way.  I also was moved by the way that they showed Jesus being beaten every step of the way.  I think that they showed "The Passion" about as realistically as they could have and still been fit to show on television.  The actual torture of Christ must have been far worse.  The resurrection scene was told more or less as the Book of John portrays it, which is mostly from Mary Magdalene's perspective.  Although somewhat truncated, they did a good job of showing Jesus' varying appearances after His resurrection.  
  • Part 10 -The final of hour of "The Bible" (which was actually only about 45 minutes as "The Passion" section ran a little over an hour) was about the rest of the New Testament.  I enjoyed the portrayal of Paul's conversion, brief as it was.  I enjoyed the portrayal of Paul, showing the change in this great Jewish intellect from persecutor to preacher (although it was rather annoying that they called him Paul of Tarsus when his pre-conversion name was actually Saul).  I also appreciated how they showed what happened to each of the apostles, yet explaining that this was according to church tradition rather than actually from the Bible.
The Bad

  • Part 9 - Probably my biggest beef with "The Passion" section was the portrayal of Christ on
    the cross.    The biblical account states that there was total darkness over the whole land for the last three hours of Christ's passion on the cross.  In "The Bible", it looks more like a bunch of clouds moved in during the final moments of Jesus' life.  It accurately portrays that there was a great earthquake at this time, but they miss a great opportunity that would have been extremely powerful.  In "The Bible", they show the earthquake toppling the curtain they separates the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.  Their curtain looked liked something you might have picked up at J.C. Penny's!  I'm told that the real "veil of the temple" that enclosed the Holy of Holies was so strong and so thick that a team of oxen pulling on either side couldn't have torn it apart!  Yet, in the scriptures, when Jesus released His Spirit to His Father, the veil was rent from top to bottom, opening the way now for every believer to enter the Holy and Holies.  (See Matthew 27:51)  It's an impressive detail that would have been a powerful conclusion to this section.
  • Part 10- To show the story of the New Testament from Acts to Revelation in less than an hour seems like an impossible task, and, in fact, I don't think it was done particularly well, mainly because of the time constraints.  The Pentecost section to me was rather disappointing.  The Bible talks of tongues of fire lighting on the disciples, but there was none of that here.  It speaks of a violent rushing wind.  This wind was rather tame.  The Bible also tells of more than 3,000 baptized that day, but this little detail is left out as well.  While the Saul/Paul narrative was well-done, the Peter narrative as he is called to preach to Cornelius could have been done much better if they had stuck to the version in Acts 10 (although I will have to say I enjoyed the actual scene in which Peter enters Cornelius' house and is startled when he bows down before Peter)
Overall Impressions of "The Bible" Series-  I was rather disappointed in the first couple of episodes of the Old Testament section, yet I thought the last three hours of this section were much better than the first two.  With some notable exceptions, I thought the New Testament section was done tastefully and mostly accurately, though I was disappointed in the way that they had to rush through the post-Resurrection sections of the scriptures.  The production really shined the most in sections when they were able to tell a fuller description of the scriptures, especially in the life of Christ.  Where they had to cover hundreds or even thousands of years in a short time, they often fell short.  I kept wishing through this project that they had been able to do ten hours on the Old Testament alone, and then come back and do ten hours on the New Testament.  However, I commend Mark Burnett and Roma Downey for producing this daunting project.  All-in all, I have to say that the good far outweighs the bad, and it was well-worth watching.  If the end result of this is that it draws people back to the Bible, they will have accomplished their goal.  The movie was good, but The Book is far better!

Want to read more?  Below are links to other articles on this site that may interest you:
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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