Tuesday, March 5, 2013

First Thoughts on The History Channel Series "The Bible"

The first episode of the History Channel's mini-series "The Bible" aired last Sunday night. There was a lot of anticipation for  this event in the blog-a-sphere, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Since the producer, Mark Burnett, was involved with Survivor, some joked that Eve would get voted off the island in the first episode. Since it was on the History Channel, some wondered if Moses would be hawking the stone tablets to the guys on Pawn Stars!

Here's my first impressions and thoughts.
  1. They sure skipped a lot. The first episode covered the entire Pentateuch  all the way up to the early chapters of Joshua.  Lots of time for Abraham and Moses, but totally skipped the story of Joseph, one of my favorite sagas in the whole Bible. And how do you skip Moses' marriage  the golden calf, the twelve spies, etc. If they are going to cover the whole Bible, I guess a lot is going to be left out.
  2. There are some inaccuracies. I mean, hey, they didn't carry the Ark of the Covenant around uncovered, and Joshua did not kneel in front of the Ark open to the view of others. He wasn't a high priest, and would have been struck dead for doing so. And we won't even go into the whole ninja, samurai angels in Sodom stuff. As I expected, they were far too politically correct to even touch on the homosexual aspects of the Sodom story.
  3. Don't expect any deep theology from the series. As Ben Witherington described it, this is the "Less Filing, Tastes Great" version of the Bible. This is going to be a dip in the shallow end of the spiritual pool, no a deep ocean journey.Some commentators have been concerned about lack of theological sophistication among the advisers to the series, and even some potential heresy. So far, however, I did not notice any heresy, but only shallowness and a surface level presentation.
  4. As the old cliche goes, the book is always better than the movie. If this series gets some people to actually pull their dusty Bibles off the shelf and try reading them, more power to it. That will be a great service. The Book is truly better than the movie!
"The Bible" was followed by the premiere of another interesting and much anticipated historical saga, "The Vikings." Who knows - maybe the ratings for these two series will be so big that the History Channel will now realize that airing, uh, you know, actual "history," might get better ratings than "Ice Road Truckers."