This week, I watched the TV series The Bible (http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-bible) which was aired in the UK some months ago. To be honest, I am not at all sure what I was supposed to get from it because my overwhelming feeling, having gone through all 8-ish hours in 5 nights is, to shrug my shoulders and say “meh”.
Halfway through my wife (the good Mrs Limey is still a Christian) was ready to give up on it for the same reasons, but it was me who said I would carry on, and so she continued to watch it with me.
The series opens with the Ark afloat and Noah telling the story of creation, and then it romps through the old testament at quite a lick and hits the birth of Jesus at the mid-point. From that point on its basically the story of Jesus’ life with a conversion of Paul and John’s imprisonment thrown in in the final minutes. One could say far more about what was left out and there were many times when my wife and I would comment on how another skip had been made and such and such an event had been left out.
To be fair, it is impossible to do a series called The Bible that is less than ten hours and cover all the important or critical parts. You could double the length of the Series and I would probably still say “they left some crucial bits out”.
There were also quite a few blatant changes to the biblical text, several I thought odd, but in the context of artistic license., I didn’t think any were unforgiveable. The problem here is that when you show a program like this, people who know the source will notice little things and criticise as a result. Noticing things like that distracts the viewer from the drama and so I would say that the places where drama has been added at the cost of accuracy, distracted me from the story and since I was struggling to stay engaged anyway, it made those issues far worse. If I was riveted to the narrative, I dare say that many of the changes would not have irked so much, or maybe even not been noticed.
The biggest issue for me, and my wife feels the same, is that the series didn’t feel strung together. When the bible is laid out like that in drama form it gets revealed to be a hotch-potch of stories and events and not much of a thread holding it all together. There is a narrator to the program, who did his best to serve the purpose of joining the fragments. Where there was an arc of story, it was when it featured the nation of Israel and their battles with their neighbours. That gets spoilt when Jesus is born because then it all becomes about him and less about the nation. This could be a symptom of rushing through the bible or it could just be that the bible doesn’t hang together as a narrative anyway, in which case, to do a series on the bible a more radical approach needs to be taken.
In summary, nothing worth shouting about, certainly not worth spending money on, I really don’t see what joy a Christian would get from it and I certainly don’t see how it could an effective evangelistic tool.
Happy to hear other thoughts, especially if you disagree with me 🙂