On The Bible, History Channel, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Angels

 

The B-I-B-L-E

O what have they done to thee?

You used to be the Word of God

And now thee’s bad TV

 

That’s what I thought last night when I started watching “The Bible” on History Channel last night.  It’s Hollywoodishly dramatic enough that when my good wife fell asleep watching it and awoke during “The Vikings” which followed, she assumed the latter was a continuation of the former and wondered which book of the Bible the producers were mangling now.  Only when a Viking ship appeared did it become clear it was a whole ‘nother show.

Now let me say I am not a Biblical scholar or a literal, inerrantist type of the first order.  But I do have high regard for this sacred text, so much that I have read, studied, taught and preached from it for years.  While the stories in the television show bore some resemblance to the stories in beloved Good Book, the enactment of them was … well, to be nice … a bit of a departure.

I mean mutant teenage Ninja turtle warriors rescuing Lot and his family???  That was my thought, at least, when I saw the scenes of the family fleeing Sodom – a huge Black angel and a shorter Asian angel dressed in armor that looked like the Ninja turtles and hacking all the unbelievers to death with swords and judo style moves.  Gimme a break.  Fire and brimstone from above isn’t enough?  Besides, I don’t recall even an authoritative version such as the Living Bible saying anything about the angels having to fight their way out of Sodom.  That version declares “the angels …rushed them to safety outside the city.” (Genesis 19:14)

And the accents??  “You don't want people talking King James English,” said one of the people associated with the program, but they certainly speak the King’s English.”  British accents dominate (not surprisingly, I guess since many of the actors are British), but to say it’s off-putting is an understatement. 

Then there is the actor’s appearance – English with bad Roman-esque hairdos (for those characters into sartorial grooming) and dirty faces.  Perhaps they didn’t have soap and water in Old Testament times.

The Bible is a powerful text.  Why, oh, why do entertainment types feel the need to soap-opera, action film it up?  I guess that’s what one should expect when this “version” is produced by husband-and-wife team of Roma Downey of “Touched by an Angel,” and Mark Burnett, of CBS’s “Survivor.”  Sigh.

And where is the outcry from people who take the Bible seriously?  Especially Evangelicals who do?  They seem to be embracing this distortion instead of fleeing from it.

I could only take about an hour of this nonsense.  I gave up and retired with a good book.  I’d suggest you skip watching “The Bible” and read it instead.  In the case of this mini-series (emphasis on “mini” in many ways), the book really is better than the movie.

 

Views: 932

Comment by Doug Bennett on 3rd mo. 4, 2013 at 11:15am

Yes, ick.

So is the Bible unfilmable, is the Greatest Story Ever Told just not something for celluloid or digital images?

I don't know a really good honest-to-the-Bible movie, but I think my favorite is Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964). 

Comment by Brent Bill on 3rd mo. 4, 2013 at 11:34am

I like good movies (well done, well acted, well photographed, etc) based on the Bible -- but to portray it as staying faithfully true to "The Bible" is a bit much.  I like Pasolini's version, too.  I even like "The 10 Commandments" -- but take it as a drama, not Torah.

Comment by Stephanie Stuckwisch on 3rd mo. 6, 2013 at 10:17pm

My daughter periodically watches "Biblical" programs the History Channel. More accurately, she turns it on and enjoys my rants and raves.

Comment by Barra Jacob-McDowell on 3rd mo. 11, 2013 at 7:20pm

We have watched all of it so far, which is the first 3 installments. Judging by his hair, Samson is a Rastie....and WHY was Noah from Scotland? In some ways, this is hilarious--or else my husband, who's done extensive Biblical and Eastern archeological research is going to have an apopolectic fit....or I will!

Actually, I've read that at least one of the other programs of "historical experts" on that channel is wildly incorrect and just plain biased in its conclusions. I've now thrown in the towel, so to speak, on "The Vikings" because even if they DID launder clothes--which I sincerely doubt--in that period, no Viking male would've been helping!  We may not agree with past attitudes and customs, but the inverted chronological snobbery that they did just as we do is incorrect and just plain wrong. Yeah, I'm an academic, but truth is more important than ratings. It's a shame that they'd rather dumb things down than stick to the truth...and it is a shame that so many will just accept it as truth "because it's on TV!"  Gaaaaaa!

Comment by catherine shaw shanley on 3rd mo. 24, 2013 at 3:20pm

Just  a thought...I teach with people who have never picked up a Bible, and they are talking about this show first thing Monday morning. They are asking good questions...that can't be a bad thing. 

Comment by Clem Gerdelmann on 3rd mo. 26, 2013 at 7:22am

History is, and has always been, "fact plus interpretation". Given the fact, then, that everything in the Bible,  including the prophets, was recorded too many years after the occurence to be anything except interpretation, the Bible itself is an ancient "History Channel" - complete with seasonal(harvest feast) applicability.

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