Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Bible (a mini-series)

I just finished watching the recording of The Bible.  The first episode left me a little ambivalent.

Here are some of the Pluses:
  1. The mini-series opens with a fair disclaimer:  "This program is an adaptation of Bible stories.  It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book.  Some scenes contain violence.  Viewer discretion is advised."
  2. The cinematography does an adequate job conveying the atmosphere of the ancient world.  Lott's home has a crude door for example.  And the terrain will remind you of the Middle East (I couldn't confirm the actual filming locations). 
  3. The writers have produced a script that is not deliberately misleading or negative.
  4. The entire production does it's best within the limited 10 hour time frame for the broadcast (7 hours after you remove commercials).  Please remember that there are 66 books in the Bible; 25 (or so) if you just include historical books.
  5. This mini-series might be considered a primer for someone who knows very little about biblical stories or the Bible.
  1. Considering item 4 above, it should be no surprise that the stories are glossed-over.  In fact, you'll find fashion magazine covers that aren't this shallow. Even worse, some of the better-known stoires had to be left out.  In episode one, The Code of Hamurabi, the Tower of Babble, The Story of Isaac, the Dispersion of the Tribes, The Story of Jacob (including the Story of Jacob & Esau), and the Story of Joseph are all omitted.
  2. The producers/directors/writers have omitted many troubling moments that underscore the emotional severity of a particular scene.  The best example here would be when the citizens of Sodom bang on Lott's door demanding to see the two strangers (Angels xent by God).  In the story, Lott offers his daughters to the crowd instead of the Angels. 
  3. The hermeneutics are extremely limited.  Hermeneutics is the art and the science of interpreting any text (not just Biblical texts).  With a better screenplay adaptation, some scenes would have deeper meaning.  In particular, Abraham would come across as a man of deep faith, instead of slightly insane.
  4. The Old Testament is about more than just the stories.  There is a tremendous theme throughout the entire Hebrew scriptures dealing with people's struggle understanding and obeying God.  This struggle has been completely omitted.
  5. Surprisingly, the "scenes of violence" are both over-done and watered-down.  The ones that are included in the series are not that violent in the Book.  And the ones in that are in the Book (but omitted from the series) are much worse.
Despite the difficulty, I'll be watching every episode.  Can't help it.  I want to be fair and abandoning the 5 week long broadcast after just one viewing isn't fair.

However, Jews and Christians will likely be bored with The Bible while folks with lesser exposure to scripture will come away believing that Religion and the Judeo-Christian beliefs are "quaint".

Please let me know what you think.


P.S.  I'll be covering the most shocking moments of the Bible during the next two weeks.

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