Characters Wanted

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Mind Over Matters

So, I watched the premiere of the History Channel’s series, “The Bible”. With much anticipation I awaited this showing. As pastor of a congregation there is always a thrill when people are interested in the full biblical narrative. The story, and stories, are rich and alive, filled with interesting characters and always, the movements of a wondrous and gracious God. Hence, “The Bible” is a welcome addition to the body of material telling the old, old, story.

The task of such an undertaking must have been daunting. Even with 16 televised hours, how do you choose which stories to include, what characters must appear, how do you shape this into a full, life-sized story. With my great anticipation, I must say I’m so far disappointed. The portrayal of the biblical characters is too clean, too neat, they’re too good. This couldn’t be further from the biblical witness. Let’s take Abraham for starters. The show sets him in the light of a strong-faithed individual, always urging other to trust God, have faith. The biblical accounts prove our faith-ancestor to repeated doubt God’s promise, several times placing the covenant in serious jeopardy. Our spiritual ancestor was a flawed and broken as the rest of us.

Next, Moses. The visual of the burning bush was stunning. However, we get very little protest from this great emancipator. The Book of Exodus shows him to continually try to talk his way out of God’s call. Excuse after excuse spews forth as Moses tries to convince God, “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

I think what the world greatly needs are portrayals of our biblical characters as simply that…characters. We tend to revere them, sometimes at the expense of revering the One who calls them in the first place. In fact, they’re just like you and me; broken, wonderful, flawed and trying-to-be-faithful-children-of-God. Noah’s strong fortitude in the show is countered by the biblical account of his actions upon reaching dry land. He plants a vineyard, makes wine, and gets drunk to the point of passing out. That scene must be lying on the editing room floor. Although, I’ll have to admit, his Scottish Highland accent was kind of cool. What a git!

Point is, let’s not venerate these folks to the extreme of missing the point. Although humanity continues in all our assets, gifts, brokenness, and flaws, God remains faithful and loving through it all.

Even so, I’ll be watching the next seven episodes! As I said in a Facebook post, if you think this show is great, you really should read the book!

  1. I was a little taken aback by the photo of the actor that’s playing Jesus in the series. Pretty much told me everything I needed to know about the series.


  2. Ann Richards says:

    I enjoyed watching the first segment, but I, too, realized that so many details were left out. But as you wrote, what should be included? The beginning could be confusing ~ creation and Noah at the same time! Throughout the years, I’ve been interested in the reaction to these epic films particularly by kids. Sometimes I’ve heard the kids point out factual errors (yay), but I also know that these movies are considered ‘correct’ by those who don’t read the biblical story for themselves. I suppose, at times, something is better than nothing. I look forward to the next segments. There must be more New Testament stories than Old. Kris, I expect blogs after each episode šŸ˜‰
    Thanks for your writings… I look forward to meeting you sometime.


    • krisgorden says:

      Hey Ann! I would have liked a little bit about Jacob–I mean, he’s only the one who was renamed as “Israel”; a total omission doesn’t seem right. They could have taken out the stuff about Sodom. It’s not at all central to the story, other than to show us that one of the angels was actually a ninja, which is kinda cool.


  3. Ray Lottie says:

    Read “The Gifts of the Jews” by Thomas Cahill. Way better than any TV portrayal.


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