So, I watched the first episode of ‘The Bible’, (Sat.30th Nov, Channel Five). It was billed as authentically close to the original. My first reaction was to think “Here we go again!” and I sat there with writing pad at the ready! Need I have worried?
It all depends on how ‘close’ this closeness to the original is supposed to be. For me the question is, “Is it scriptural, or not?”
The sponsor of the series (five episodes in total) is a website called ‘What’s in the Bible?’ and I must admit to being very disappointed. Why? Because it used children to offer cute ideas about what the bible contains, and a cartoon character to narrate.
For a genuine attempt to teach what scripture says to adults, this is not the approach to use! It implies that what is to follow is just a kind of cartoon, or a mere story. Charismatics and progressives will love the series of course, but I am very reserved after watching the first episode. And, to add to this, advertisements in the breaks were by Spring Harvest, which hardly represents sound biblical teaching.
Like so many modern ideas, the series wants to ‘stay true to the spirit’ of the Bible. Perhaps I am being too guarded, but this is the kind of approach used by the Higher Critics, who ignore what scripture actually says, in order to get at the ‘real meaning’ or ‘spirit’! The ‘real meaning’ is what scripture says, not what men guess it ‘really means’!!
Anyway, I watched the first programme and was struck by its many conjectures. Now, a genuine Bible teacher will often ‘fill in the gaps’ by suggesting a possible scenario, but, all along, he will not stray outside what scripture says. A lot of the conjecture was reasonable (such as the parting of Abraham and lot). But, then came a number of conjectures without any possible truth. Lot’s wife, for example, was portrayed as always spreading dissent. Another conjecture was correct – Jesus is implied as being the third person who visited Abraham at his tent, though His face was hidden in the scene.
The entry of the two angels into Sodom, however, was not accurate, nor was their ‘fight’ with locals! The whole scene, where locals wanted to do harm to the angels, was handled more like a Kung Fu film than scripturally. Indeed, the whole scenario was simply badly produced... it did not show the real reasons for the horrific scene – homosexual lust – nor did it show Lot offering his daughters to the crowd. Thus, the real reason why God destroyed Sodom is not shown or hinted at. In this way the film avoided offending homosexuals!
But, the fight scene was probably the worst deviation, showing the two angels fighting with swords and killing the crowd, just before bolts rained upon Sodom from the skies. No matter how well directed or imagined, ANY portrayal of scripture MUST be totally accurate. If it is not, it is the slow slide downwards, causing many to think of it as myth and not real. The mob scene in Sodom was not shown in its true sense, an horrific and brutal jamming of the streets by men driven insane by their wicked homosexual desires. In short, the programme inserted a great deal and left out a great deal. And what was omitted was important to understanding the relevant scriptures.
Ages were a bit of a problem, too – Abraham and Sara were very old when she had her child, but both appeared to be middle-aged. Oh well.
The scenes showing Moses fighting his step-brother were fanciful, and indicated that the whole court knew Moses was an Hebrew. Where is this to be found in scripture?
Moses’ speech impediment was not shown once and the part played by his brother was almost absent. The Moses account was far too truncated to be of real use and did not convey the true drama of his life or his calling by God. Also, there was too much conjecture about Moses and his supposed relationship to Pharaoh.
The plagues were a let-down and did not convey the facts properly. The lack of detail almost minimised the whole matter as found in Exodus.
The same error hit the Red Sea scenes! There was no pillar of fire and smoke, and the way the parting of the Red Sea was shown lacked real biblical credibility (e.g. how Moses was to hold up his arms). The giving of the Ten Commandments also lacked detail and accuracy and there was even an Ark shown, that did not exist at that time! The forty years in the wilderness was not shown, or its importance, and the handling of the two spies before the Hebrews went into Canaan was inaccurate.
Overall, the first episode tried to cover far too many incidents and accounts, and, to me, it had the quality of a film trailer rather than a whole film... there were too many errors and conjectures to be comfortable with. I will wait to see what else emerges from this series! It still stands that even if the writers had to leave out a lot of information, what was included HAD to be biblically accurate.
I advise Christians not to go ‘OO, AH’ in awe!! No matter what the aim or intentions, we should not accept even one error or one deviation from what scripture says.