Monday, April 01, 2013

A Review of "The Bible" Miniseries


Overall, I enjoyed "The Bible" miniseries on The History Channel. I wondered how the producers might squeeze the entire story of Scripture into ten hours of video (with commercials), but they did an effective job by highlighting a limited number of representative characters in the narrative.

The series gave me more than a few moments of clarifying perspective, such as visualizing Daniel's faithfulness in prayer and his friends' experience in the furnace. My oldest son even laughed when he saw the holes in Jesus' hands. He had always assumed that there would be scabs upon the wounds. After all, we get scabs when we get hurt.

The series has faced a relatively minor measure of criticism for skipping certain stories or characters, as well as taking a few liberties with the text. I believe the former criticism is unfounded (something has to be skipped, otherwise you'll have a series that lasts ten months, not ten hours). The latter criticism is more understandable, even though the characters remained true to the spirit of their biblical counterparts.

My prayer is that "The Bible" miniseries may be used by God to draw people to Christ, and I believe that it has and will. We must not, however, be fooled into thinking that a Hollywood production--even a great one--can replace our role as disciple-makers.

Now, on to a few very minor critical observations.... I found it interesting that while most of the series kept away from extra-biblical tradition, the telling of Jesus' story gave a few nods to fictional Roman Catholic Church (RCC) legends.

For example, a female character in "The Bible" wiped Jesus' brow as He carried the cross. This is an obvious reference to the RCC legend of Veronica, who's cloth is said to have received an imprinting of Jesus' face upon her act of mercy. Her action is one of the "Stations of the Cross," which Roman Catholics walk in the old city of Jerusalem. There is, of course, no one mentioned like this in the Bible.

Another fictional license in the series occurred when Mary assists her son in picking up the cross. To me, this was a nod to the idea gaining traction in feminist circles of the RCC of Mary being a "Co-Redemptrix." There is no biblical parallel for this scene. If the Co-Redemptrix teaching ever became official Roman Catholic doctrine, it would do serious damage to one of the major teachings that Catholicism has mostly right: Christology. If Christ is sufficient to save, then He does not need Mary.

As a Baptist, I obviously took note of Paul's baptism by affusion (pouring) rather than immersion. The word means "immerse," and there's nothing in the text that indicates anything other than that. This seemed to be an acquiescence to Christian traditions that don't immerse.

While there were a more inconsistencies between "The Bible" miniseries and the actual Bible, if these are the "worst," then it was a very good presentation. I'm glad it was made.


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