“The Bible” History Channel Series: A Review

I didn’t plan to review this series, as I really didn’t expect much from it, but after several requests, here we go!

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I’ll do a quick review on the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good:

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Hey, they took a shot. To have any mention of the Bible in our culture has the opportunity to be a good thing.

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The imagery and special effects of some of the major biblical events is stunningly good. I can see these being used as illustrations for years to come.  The ark on the water, the burning bush, parting the Red Sea.. all really really well done.

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The Bad:

Let’s be honest, we knew the History Channel wasn’t going to break out a full blown presentation of the Gospel here.  I figured, at best, we’d get a series of “Bible Stories” which would walk the line between “inspired word of God” and “cool myths”.  I wasn’t wrong.  I figured any controversial issues (the cause for Sodom’s destruction anyone?) would be avoided or minimized.

What we got were man-centered “tales” where the hero of each story was the man involved; Moses and Abraham in this episode. Again, exactly what one would expect.

There were also some glaring inaccuracies; Abram being called Abraham too early in the narrative, extra-textual dialogue, Ninja-Angels that fought their way through the crowd like something from a John Woo film.. I don’t agree with the license taken, but I understand it.

What I don’t get, is that with the time, money, and resources they had available, they don’t appear to give  what I would expect as a bare minimum.. what I have seen those who absolutely reject the Bible as divinely inspired do… get the theme right.  Even if you viewed the Bible as a complete work of ancient mythology, how do you miss the entire theme?

If the writers of this series produced “Saving Private Ryan”, it would have been told as the story of a bunch of guys on a boat ride to Europe who then ran around the woods shooting at each other.  They simply missed the context, the “meta-narrative” if  you will.

The Bible is first and foremost a story of redemption. God redeeming a people to Himself throughout history, and the players involved in that unfolding story.  To completely miss the theme of redemption in the Biblical narrative is absurd.  And as I notice the themes removed from various stories (such as the way the sacrifice of Isaac was portrayed), I’m afraid it’s not unintentional.

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The Ugly:

Here’s the rub; The Bible is a book of God’s redemption of a fallen people. The entire message of the gospel (I cringe to think how they’ll handle that) is that fallen man needed the direct, gracious, intervention of God to be saved.  To avoid that theme is not only missing the entire point, but makes this series more damaging than good.

I disagree with those who say that this “opens the door for dialog”, or that it give people “an introduction” to the Bible.  This presentation of the Bible as a set of heroic individuals actually hinders future gospel presentation as it confuses the categories.  If one already “knows the story”, why would they feel a need to hear it form someone else?

As I wrote to a friend last night, Men are saved by:

“Repentance and faith in Christ as the holy spirit works through proclamation of the gospel. No gospel, no go. Generic “God talk” or inaccurate retelling of “bible stories” does nothing for the unregenerate. Possibly even less than nothing as they feel they’ve “heard it”.”

So, I’ll continue to watch, though I probably won’t have my kids watch it with me. They’ll get their presentation of the Bible from me as I catechize them each evening, from their Pastors,  and from their Sunday School teachers.  While I appreciate the effort, the History Channel is wholly unqualified to weigh here.

Swing and a miss.

Marc