Should People Watch “THE BIBLE” miniseries as 68 million already have? Part two

BIble TV series

An interesting review of the recent Bible Miniseries from Pastor Jim McClarty: Gary Chaffins on Face book today.


Let me say first about this review by Jim, I had never heard of him before today. I went to his website and view his belief and even listen to a 7 minutes clip from a sermon, which I totally 100 % agreed with.

With that said, there are a number of issues that Jim brings up about this series, in which he is right.  And if I took the time I could find a number of issues that could be said about the theological issues that this series does not address.  If I were to watch this series with the idea that it was biblically correct I would find it hard to accept.  As the CEO of The History Channel said, ” We did a lot of taking about the Book and not enough time knowing what the book said.”  And she was right.  They took liberty with a lot of the historical events.

In these post I have put in reviews from a number of people, and few liked the series.

But did the producers of the series try on purpose  to portray a false idea about the history of the Bible.  Did they get history right in light of Scriptures?  Were they trying to give another idea about what the Bible is all about?  Were they trying to give a theological drama about what the Bible is really about: The History of the Redemption of Mankind. I don’t think they were even thinking about the thread that runs the scriptures. I don’t think they were trying to tie in the significances of the historical events.  I don’t think they were trying to bring in the means of salvation. I don’t think they were trying to show the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Bible.  I don’t think they were trying bring people to know their lost condition and in need of salvation by grace.  I don’t think they were trying to show a sovereign God in all things.  I have not seen part three, and there are ten.

So the question is what were they try to do with the mini series? Good question? They said they wanted people to  know the history of the Bible.  They wanted people to talk about the Bible at the water cooler at work.  Well 68 million people is said to have seen the first three. Let see if God is sovereign in all things and see if He will use this series for good. God is much bigger than all the wrong that was in this series.

So the question is are we as Christians wrong in even watching this series?

written by Charles e Whisnant

Luke 3 Jewish leaders

NOW FOR THE OPINION OF JIM: (I do not know where Gary found this from Jim)

“So … I finally watched the third installment of the Bible series on the History Channel. There’s not a lot to say. More of the same … same lies, same falsehoods, same heresies, same lack of historic veracity, same utter disrespect for the text of the Bible as written, same dumbing down of the Bible, same insertion of Purpose Drivel, same denial of sin, redemption, the necessity of a Savior … etc, etc, etc.

However, I did notice something significant. I wasn’t surprised at the constant historic revisionism, but when the character playing Daniel told the the character playing Cyrus that there was a prophet living at the time called Isaiah — quote: “There’s a prophet here in Babylon, Isaiah, he says …” — well, that’s just utterly wrong and there’s no reason to get it so wrong. Unless you have an agenda.

Isaiah died a good century before Cyrus was born, but he also predicted Cyrus, by name, as the ruler who would let the people of Israel return to build their temple. [By the way, the Bible series keeps representing the Jewish folk as poor, dusty, downtrodden people, but many Jews did not return to Jerusalem because they had become so prosperous and well-to-do in Babylon.] But, why did the writers of the Bible series insist on placing Isaiah in the Babylonian context?

Late dating.

They did the same sort of dance around the prophecies of Daniel. When Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, Daniel began recounting it. He said, “You are the head of gold …” at which point the king interrupts him and insists, “Tell me about the rock that smashes the other kingdoms,” effectively erasing the prophecy that accurately predicts the succession of kingdoms to follow Babylon — Medo/Persian, Greece, Rome and the ten-toed kingdom that’s on the earth when Christ returns.

I sense a pattern here.

The Bible series insists that the Jews were returned to their land under Cyrus because Daniel was such a brave, vision-casting sort of leader. But, nothing is said of the fact that Jeremiah already prophesied that the captivity in Babylon would last 70 years and that time period was fulfilled. There’s nothing of the angel visiting Daniel and prophesying the 490-year future of the Israelites, leading to the Messiah and time of the end.

It’s obvious that the writers and producers are systematically eliminating or explaining-away all the accurate prophecy in the Old Testament. The TV version of the prophets merely heard from God, but there’s no hint of accurately foretelling future events. (Oh sure, there’s a vague hat-tip to the concept when Herod asks about predictions concerning where the King of the Jews would be born, but the whole episode is brushed away like a fluke. There’s no mention of the nearly 400 OT prophecies that Jesus accurately fulfilled.)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve concluded: The writers and producers of the program eliminated and late-dated OT prophecy on purpose. As I’ve often argued, the consistent accuracy of Biblical prophecy is evidence of the Bible’s divine nature — it is the very word of God, God-breathed. But, if the producers believed the Bible was God’s own word, they would never take the liberties they’ve taken with it. So, they’ve downplayed, underplayed, or ignored the prophetic elements of the very stories they’ve chosen to tell. But, in the end, it’s really a complete denial of the holiness and divinity of the Bible.

And it’s blasphemy. (Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things, like the Holy Bible.)

The whole thing — the whole series — is a mishmash of gratuitous scenes of violence, angels who act like hypnotists, occasional insertions from the inter-testamental period (like the eagle on the temple, a story we find in Josephus, but not the Bible … probably inserted to satisfy the Catholic consultants who include the Apocrypha in their Bible), and historic inaccuracies like the wise men seeing the star prior to the birth so that they could make their journey early and get to Herod and then the manger, despite the fact that the Bible says they visited the family at their home when Jesus was a young boy, leading Herod to kill all the boys 2 and under … but hey, those are just details, so why bother getting any of it correct?

There weren’t three wise men. On TV, Herod called the leader Balthazar, which name is not in the Bible, it’s a medieval Catholic tradition that probably dates back to Bede the Venerable in the 8th Century. We saw no attempt to get Mary a room at the inn. When Jesus was baptized there was no dove, no voice saying “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” No sense of Jesus’ divine ability to effectively call people to Himself.” And, of course, the horrid insertion of words into Jesus’ mouth that He simply never said, like, “Change the world.”


(Oh, and when Jesus was in the desert, did that snake come out of him, out from under him, or just emanate from nowhere?)

And here’s the worst part: There are so many people who are functionally illiterate where the Bible is concerned and they are going to think that what they’re seeing is an accurate portrayal of Jesus’ words, actions, and intentions. But, the Jesus of this series is NOT the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of this series is the invention of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, TD Jakes, and their friends in Hollywood.

Read your Bible, people. “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” (Rom. 3:4)

This series is as damaging as anything Rome, the Mormons, or Islam have done in their denial of the historicity, perspicuity, and trustworthiness of the text of the Bible. And the sub-biblical church in America is all excited about it. Confessing evangelical apologists for this series are making the same error they always make (just as they did with Mel Gibon’s movie, The Passion), they are embracing this series, despite its multiple errors, with the assumption that “something is better than nothing.” They like the fact that something called “The Bible” is on TV, despite the fact that it actually undermines the very Bible they claim to embrace.

The Church should be universally outraged at this travesty and they should reject it wholesale in order to send the message to Hollywood that we will not allow our sacred texts to be maligned and manipulated just to sell DVD’s.

But no. The church at large will be silent. And the errors will be compounded. And Christianity will suffer as more people embrace the mis-truths and lies that make up this series.

There’s an agenda at work here, folks. And it’s not good. Despite claiming to present “The Bible,” the producers are systematically undermining the Word of God and inserting the words of men — words that are more acceptable, more palatable, more pleasing to the easily-tickled ears of worldly people.

But, they won’t tell anyone that they’re sinful, depraved, spiritually dead, incapable, and desperately wicked. They won’t explain that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him. And they won’t tell anyone that the Bible is the very word of God and, as such, humans have no authority to mess with it, alter it, change it, adapt it, or deny it.

They won’t tell the truth.But, then again, that’s no surprise.The Bible (the real Bible) said it would be that way —

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2Tim. 4:1-4)

In other words, the Bible is true even when it predicts that people will not tell the truth about it.

‘Nuff said.”“It’s obvious that the writers and producers are systematically eliminating or explaining-away all the accurate prophecy in the Old Testament” Jim says.

Pastor Charles’s comment:

Jim is may be correct in his assessment about the series. He states that it is obvious that the writers and producers are systematically eliminating or explaining away all the accurate prophecy in the OT. I don’t know how he knows that, unless he has talked to the writers and producers.

Of course, if I were to tell you everything that was left out of the series “The Bible” this post would be many pages long.  I admit I didn’t read into the series as much as Jim did.  Some things did come into mine of course, but that is always with me.  I can not listen to a sermon without saying something about what I think about the sermon.

And Jim is right that the series leaves out a lot of things that we Baptist would want to be in the series.  If we were making the “The Bible” we certainly would make sure every part of the story would be theological correct. And we would make sure that every word spoken would be correct and every event would be totally accurate.

Is there a deliberate plan on the part of the writers to make sure that they leave out everything that is true about the Bible, God and Jesus Christ?

If I read what Jim has said, and believed there was on the part of the writers and producers this deliberate plan to make the Bible wrong than we should not watch it.

Jim says “This series is as damaging as anything Rome, the Mormons, or Islam have done in their denial of the historicity, perspicuity, and trustworthiness of the text of the Bible.” If this is true then we should not watch it. Of course Jim has watched it himself.

In 15 days 68 million people have seen the THE BIBLE miniseries they say.

The Bible was not meant to be made into a movie, it’s a book that tells a story about the fall of man kind and the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ. It is a story of redemption.


Despite the sacred text’s popularity — some estimate that in 2005 Americans purchased 25 million Bibles — not all book-to-movie adaptations translate well to audiences. But for all the negative reviews that have rolled in from television critics of the miniseries, History channel is anticipating record audiences.So what did those critics actually have to say about the labor of love created by Mark Burnett and his wife, Touched By An Angel star Roma Downey?

The Hollywood Reporter‘s TV critic Allison Keene found the biggest conundrum of the miniseries to be its struggle to pinpoint an intended audience.

“The Bible never seems to figure out how to present itself. It spends a lot of time in the New Testament (at least, in the Gospels), which is already very well-worn territory on TV and in film.  Sometimes it stays true to scripture, but then does things like adds angels with ninja skills to spice things up. That’s one thing the Bible itself really doesn’t need — it’s a complex and lyrical work full of prophesies and call-backs and a sense of being one, organic, intertwined story. Unfortunately, The Bible is fractious and overwrought. Others are sure to pick apart the deviations from the sacred text, but that’s just the beginning of the miniseries’ issues. In the end, this is the most well-known and popular book in the history of humanity for a reason — it’s exciting and interesting and full of hope. The Bible is unfortunately none of these.”

The Miami Herald‘s Glenn Garvin couldn’t look past the History channel’s hypocrisy in choosing to air such a miniseries, when they famously killed a dramatic mini-series about the Kennedy family on the grounds that its “dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”

The Bible, on the other hand, doesn’t amount to much more than a further piece of evidence that drama and reverence don’t mix well. (To be fair, it would be the prohibitive favorite if only there were an Emmy for Screenplay In Which The Sentences ‘God Has Spoken To Me’ and ‘God Will Provide’ Are Said the Most Times.) With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune — laughably, the destruction of Sodom is depicted without the faintest hint of the sexual peccadillo that takes its name from the city — this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian. The Bible marks the first attempt at drama by reality-show maven Mark Burnett, whose soul I would consider in serious jeopardy if it hadn’t already been forfeited during the second season of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Los Angeles Times TV critic Robert Lloyd is just plain tired of producers rehashing the same old story.

“The series is ultimately a work of the imagination; indeed, it could have used a little more.” Lloyd continued: “The Bible according to Burnett and Downey is a handsome and generally expensive-looking production, but it is also flat and often tedious, even when it tends to the hysterical, and as hard as the Hans Zimmer soundtrack strains to keep you on the edge of your sofa. The dialogue is pedestrian and functional — sometimes it has the flavor of having been made up on the spot — and often overacted, as if in compensation. It is ‘psychological’ only in obvious ways, with the poetry of the King James version all but ignored.”

The New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger seemed most disappointed in Survivor producer Mark Burnett’s missed opportunity in tackling “the ultimate make-me-believe-it-challenge.”

“The result is a mini-series full of emoting that does not register emotionally, a tableau of great biblical moments that doesn’t convey why they’re great. Those looking for something that makes them feel the power of the Bible would do better to find a good production of Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar. And those thinking that the ancient miracles might be better served by the special effects available in 2013 than they have been in previous versions should prepare for disappointment. The Red Sea parts no more convincingly here than it did for Charlton Heston in 1956.”

Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was at least thankful that The Bible — or “The Bible’s Greatest Hits (Sanitized for Your Protection)” — was “up front about its intentions. Sunday’s premiere begins with this get-out-of-jail-free disclaimer: ‘This program is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world. It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book.'”

“Nothing here is as ridiculous as NBC’s 1999 Noah’s Ark miniseries, the nadir of biblical interpretation that featured Noah warding off pirates. But The Bible probably should not be taken too seriously or venerated. It often plays more like an action film than a serious interpretation of a holy book.”

Not surprisingly, The Christian Post found the History miniseries spot on in its review from guest contributor Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO/Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. For his part, he claims to have been skeptical at first, noting that most interpretations of The Bible are “pretty high on my ‘cringe factor’ scale.”

“Just recently I did a marathon session and watched the entire series in one single day. For someone that has read and taught the Bible for most of his life, I had a remarkable spiritual and emotional experience. The theme of God’s love and hope for all humanity is the thread that holds the entire series together. I received a fresh new perspective on many of the famous Bible stories: Looking through the eyes of Sarah as she thinks that her husband, Abraham, has sacrificed their son Isaac; listening to Noah telling the story of Creation to his children on the ark; agonizing with Mary (played by Roma Downey) as she sees her son, Jesus, beaten and crucified. These and so many other stories allow you to connect with the characters on a deep emotional level.”

History has embarked upon an ambitious 10-hour, five-part miniseries to dramatically chronicle the most popular book in human history. The miniseries comes about via the anointed TV hand of producer Mark Burnett, of such seminal reality works as Survivor and The Apprentice, with the help of his wife Roma Downey (who also appears in the series as Mother Mary). Although an intertitle before things kick off informs views that this adaptation means to be faithful to the “spirit” of the book, what actually follows is a confusing — and very abridged — mishmash of the historical, the holy and the honeyed.

The biggest question about The Bible is, ultimately, who is it for? It doesn’t dwell much on the power of the verse (even Jesus, who gets several episodes devoted to him, is reduced to only a few snippets of his most famous lines), and Bible purists are sure to be frustrated by some of what is left out versus what’s focused upon. We fly through the Old Testament with incredible speed but dwell a great deal on an expanded portrait of Pontius Pilate, presumably drawn from the writings of the ancient Jewish scholar Josephus, because that information is not actually in the Bible.

Those not wholly familiar with the stories portrayed (the miniseries hits the highlights: Moses, King David, Solomon, Daniel, Jesus and his Disciples and more) are likely to be confused by the lack of context, both geographical and historical, particularly between segments, when hundreds of years are leapt over in a single bound. A map every once in awhile would do wonders to orient viewers to where, exactly, we even are (not to mention where in our own time — the CGI, for 2013, leaves a great deal to be desired).

Which goes back to the question of who the series is made for. It doesn’t seem to do adequate service to Christians or non-Christians, because it doesn’t quite “go there” (spiritually speaking), but neither does it give much of an explanation about how the events fit into a larger historical context. It presumes a knowledge of the material but doesn’t expand on that knowledge in a deeper way by offering up any kind of dissection or discussion. Although the miniseries is narrated (by Keith David), the voice-over serves almost no purpose. It could be cut and no one would notice.

The all-important role of Jesus is played by Portuguese star Diogo Morgado, who gives him a culturally ambiguous accent in a world dominated by the English (the miniseries sticks the rule that if it is historical and / or foreign, Americans pretty much expect everyone to sound British. Who started this?), and he is also one of the more handsome Christs of the Max von Sydow variety. His Jesus does perform some miracles, but they tend to interrupt his speeches, as if Burnett and Downey fear they may be getting too specifically religious. But this is, you know, the Bible. It’s not a general book.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this adaptation of The Bible is how slow and tedious it can be. The miniseries does its best work when it gets away from the most familiar stories — Moses, the exodus, Jesus’ crucifixion — and focuses on the kings (David, Saul, Solomon) and Daniel, whose stories are less well chronicled. In those moments we actually start to get a feeling (just barely) about characters as well as a sense of drama, whereas some of the other moments (like the whole of Abraham’s time on screen) is portrayed in stilted solemnity and is, at times, quite cloying.

The Bible never seems to figure out how to present itself. It spends a lot of time in the New Testament (at least, in the Gospels), which is already very well-worn territory on TV and in film. Sometimes it stays true to scripture but then does things like adds angels with ninja skills to spice things up. That’s one thing the Bible itself really doesn’t need; it’s a complex and lyrical work full of prophesies and callbacks and a sense of being one, organic, intertwined story. Unfortunately, The Bible is fractious and overwrought. Others are sure to pick apart the deviations from the sacred text, but that’s just the beginning of the miniseries’ issues. In the end, this is the most well-known and popular book in the history of humanity for a reason: It’s exciting and interesting and full of hope. The Bible is unfortunately none of these.

This ‘Noah’s Ark’ sinks before docking

Tuesday, May 04, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

If the world is destroyed tomorrow, we can safely blame NBC.

I don’t think God will be happy with the network’s “Noah’s Ark,” a four-hour mini-series airing today and tomorrow at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Produced by Hallmark Entertainment, makers of “Merlin” and “Gulliver’s Travels,” “Noah’s Ark” doesn’t live up to the Hallmark brand name that’s usually synonymous with quality family entertainment.

Instead, we get a biblical epic filled with inane humor and contrived drama: Noah’s wife tries to kill animals she dislikes by dumping them overboard; Noah has to keep his sons from making out with their girlfriends, turning the ark into a latter-day Love Boat.

You know there’s trouble when the mini-series begins with a disclaimer: “For dramatic effect, we have taken poetic license with some of the events in the mighty epic of Noah and the flood.”

Sorry to ruin the lesson plans of Sunday school teachers, but it’s more than poetic license. Hallmark and NBC have changed the story into a cross between “Armageddon” and “Waterworld.”

Some of the best film adaptations of literature take liberties, but the ones that work best remain true to the spirit of the novel on which they’re based. The spirit (and the Spirit) are lacking in NBC’s “Noah’s Ark.”

“Noah’s Ark” begins with Noah (Jon Voight) and his wife, Naamah (Mary Steenburgen), living in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot (F. Murray Abraham) is Noah’s best friend.

My memories of Lutheran Sunday School are fading, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t learn any stories about Noah and his family fleeing from the ashes of an ancient sin city. Scriptwriter Peter Barnes has an easy explanation. When Noah suggests they write down their adventures for future generations, Naamah says not to trust the “scribbling scribes.

“They have a very bad reputation,” she says. “By the time they’re finished with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, they’ll probably say we weren’t even there!”

Ha ha ha.

In fairness, “Noah’s Ark” is true to the Old Testament in its un-politically correct depiction of violence. Viewers get to see animals aflame, and a hysterical woman gets slugged by one of Noah’s sons.

Lot’s wife, played with gonzo shrieking by Carol Kane, turns into a pillar of salt when she looks back on Sodom and Gomorrah just as in the good book. The city is destroyed by what looks like leftover special effects from NBC’s 1997 mini-series “Asteroid.”

Other visual effects don’t fare so well. Many of the animals that board the ark two by two are obviously computer-generated one by one. They don’t look real. Likewise, Noah’s encounter with lava appears pasted-together and fake.

NBC has touted the number of Oscar-winners in this production. It’s a pity “Noah’s Ark” will stain their resumes (so much for using the Oscar cachet to positive effect). James Coburn, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for “Affliction” in February, gets two short scenes as a peddler who sells trinkets to Noah and his family. The brevity of his screen time will make it easier to forget his participation, but there’s no such luck for F. Murray Abraham as the out-of-place Lot.

Abraham turns up in one of two scenes that vie for the title of “most embarrassing moment in a mini-series or movie.” Lot’s gang of water warriors attacks the ark like leftovers from a “Mad Max” movie.

If that’s not the worst moment in “Noah’s Ark,” it has to be the tangential story of Noah’s sons busting up a virgin sacrifice (“She’s the only virgin we could find on such short notice,” a priest quips).

When a shipwreck of this magnitude washes up during sweeps month, there are so many burning questions: Who thought this was a good idea? Who decided to take a story that doesn’t fill two complete pages in the Bible and stretch it to four hours?

Alas, we’ll never get answers to those questions.

Instead, thank whatever deity you worship that you weren’t involved in the making of this monstrosity. Chances are the filmmakers already have a boarding pass to the afterlife – “Going down!” – and you won’t want to follow in their wake.


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