Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Bible Series" on History: Part 3 Weeping with the Weeper

Jeremiah (pictured left) was known as The Weeping Prophet. He wept over the fate of Israel. I weep over the "The Bible Series" on the History Channel.

Last week in Part 2 they left off with David and Bathsheba watching their son Solomon as a toddler play with a model of the Temple. We are then told Solomon will someday build that Temple, but will stray from God. And with that they dispatched the whole reign of Solomon, thus covering a great deal of Kings and Chronicles in one sentence, not to mention Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes.

They also managed to skip over Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs and all the other prophets, except Daniel. Maybe there isn't enough bloody action in those other Books to satisfy the filmmakers. They have turned The Bible into an action-adventure story.

We began last night's edition with Jeremiah walking along in a yoke, looking a little like a deranged Larry Fine of the Three Stooges with his wild hair fringing a balding pate. We are soon into the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (pictured right) and the capture of King Zedekiah and his sons. This allows for another scene of eye-gouging, a often favorite Three Stooges activity, although the comic trio never actually poked anyone's eyes out with their thumbs as Nebuchadnezzar does here.

We are left with the statement that Jeremiah escaped capture and fled to Egypt for safety.

Jeremiah did not flee to Egypt for safety. He was taken capture by Nebuchadnezzar, but later released with a choice of going to Babylon or staying in his own land. He remained in his land with a remnant of others. Eventually these others decided to go to Egypt, against the warnings of Jeremiah. Poor Jeremiah, no one ever wanted to listen to him, much to their regret. He went to Egypt with the remnant then and his final fate is unknown, although those who insisted on going there came to a bad ending.

Actually, "The Bible Series" is somewhat misleading on the fate of Nebuchadnezzar as well. We last see this Babylonian King chained in a room being offered a bowl of food by Daniel. Daniel gives him the bowl and Nebuchadnezzar drops to all fours to lap it up. (In what Chapter and Verse is this found?)

 Nebuchadnezzar did go insane for seven years, living in the wild like a beast, eating grass. At the end of this period, with a new appreciation for God, he was reinstated in his mind and rule. But never mind The Bible, we're doing the History Channel Bible here.

And it's much more urgent to portray Daniel's friends in the furnace and Daniel in the Lion's Den (pictured left) then shuffle along explaining cause and effect.

Daniel came across as a bit too wimpy for my taste in this production, all quivery. The picture in my mind of this man is one of sterner stuff. He stood up to powerful rulers on what he believed and was a man of tremendous faith, but he seemed somewhat of a milquetoast in this film.

By the by, in the furnace scene, it looks like Nebuchadnezzar goes up to look in the furnace and suffers a badly burnt hand, rather then his minions being consumed by the heat.

At any rate, the Old Testament was dispatched last night.

So on to the New Testament, which opens with the incident where Torah students attempted to remove the Roman Eagle Herod had placed atop the Temple he had built. The students are pulled down (shown) and  later burned alive (not shown). This event did occur, but I am not certain it is referenced in the New Testament. Anyway, we now are immediately after introduced to Joseph and Mary, who suddenly find themselves caught in the middle of an attack by Roman soldier's collecting unpaid taxes (pictured right), as found in Luke 3:72. (just kidding, there is no Luke 3:72, but there isn't any record of Mary and Joseph being terrorized by Roman tax collectors either. I guess the scriptwriter wanted a little more action here.) 

We then have a red-hooded Angel telling Mary she shall be with child from God, followed by an obviously pregnant Mary being berated by Joseph for betraying him. But never-fear, soon a small child grips Joseph's hand. The child turns into one of those red-hooded angels (pictured left), puts Joseph in a dream-trance and when he snaps to, Joseph runs to Mary to apologize and tell her he believes, after which we watch Joseph and Mary being assaulted by the villagers angry at her for being pregnant.

We move on to the birth of Christ, which apparently was a busy day indeed. We have our 52-year old virgin Mary (played by Roma Downey herself) and Joseph (not played by Mark Burnett) arriving in Bethlehem during some kind of monsoon. While Joseph runs about willy-nilly crying for help, Mary is screaming the baby is coming. Meanwhile, one of the three wise men arrives at the palace of grossly fat Herod (apparently the other two Magi were cooling their heels down at a local Starbucks; never mind we really don't know there were only three). Herod (pictured left) has a hissy fit and the wise man leaves, while scribes search out where the Messiah is to be born. Back in Bethlehem, Mary gives birth and almost immediately both shepherds and the Magi arrive. As they kneel to present their gifts, Herod is ordering his soldiers to kill every boy child in Bethlehem and again Joseph is visited by an Angel. He then says to Mary, "We have to leave right now."

We are then treated to a protracted scene of soldiers brutally slaughtering babes as the narrator intones, "The massacre of the innocents."

In a flash we see Joseph leading Mary, seated on a donkey, holding a young Jesus astride it before her. It is a few years later and they are moving into Nazareth. They pause to gape at a hilltop where dozen's of crosses with victims of crucifixion are visual. Mary sweeps her cloak over the young Jesus' eyes to spare the child such a sight, but too late. We see the boy looking. In literary terms this scene is called foreshadowing; In Biblical terms this scene is called pure fiction.

A banner now says, "25 years later" and we are told that John is baptizing in the Jordan.

A few observations:

After John baptizes Jesus we are shown a picture of sky (left). There is no Trinity established in the film, no voice of God declaring Jesus his son and no Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Just some clouds with a bright splotch of sky between.

After the Baptism Jesus is shown staggering across a desert and then collapsing, with his arm flung out as if on a cross. A snake slithers out from beneath him and when Jesus looks up there is a figure in a green hooded outfit. On closer inspection we see this person is President Obama...I mean, Satan (pictured right).

Now don't any one get mad at me for that remark. I'm not making any political comments here. It wasn't my idea, I thought Satan resembled the Emperor of the Evil Empire in "Star Wars", but I saw a review online this morning asking why the character of Satan resembled President Obama and now looking at the actor there is some resemblance.

Satan does a Reader's Digest version of the temptations and then turns back into a snake and slithers away. The Narrator tells us Jesus resisted Satan. But where were all those red-hooded Angels now. Scripture tells us Angels came and attended Jesus after Satan left.

Again things happen very rapidly. Jesus is walking along a seashore, sees a man fishing, walks out and gets in the boat. The man is Peter and Jesus tells him to fish where Peter has said there are no fish. Of course they haul in net after net of fish. Then Jesus tells Peter he will make him a fisher of men and they will change the be continued in Part 4.

Okay, something similar did happen with pulling in tons of fish where none had been caught earlier, but in the film version there was no sign of James and John being involved. It also presented Peter and Jesus as total strangers just meeting. At the time this instance happened Jesus was preaching and the crowd was pressing in on him. He went onto Peter's boat to escape the crowd. He already knew Peter, as well as James and John, but these earlier meetings were never presented in the film.

While Jesus and Peter are hauling in fish, we have scenes of Herod Antipas personally overseeing John the Baptist being beaten in prison. We also have Herod ordering him beheaded just to shut him up. This is not how John's beheading went down. If I remember correctly, Herod considered John a Holy man and kept him safe, wanting to kill him, but fearful of harming him because of the people who though John a prophet. And does anybody recall some girl named Salome?

Pictured on the left is a beaten up John the Baptist just before Herod indicated to a guard to cut off his head.

Besides the President Obama remark online I also saw this review:

"In a time where disaster and despair are everywhere, many question the presence of God. On Sunday, March 3, the History Channel premiered a new TV series that’s taking the world by storm. The Bible is a 5-part, 10-hour series retelling stories from the most important book ever printed. Every Sunday for five weeks, viewers can tune in to watch the amazing retelling. From Genesis to Revelation, the epic stories are told in a truthful yet entertaining way to appeal to audience members from every generation and background."

Perhaps the last line is the problem for me. It says the tales are told in a truthful way, but a truthful does not exactly equal truth. The film's emphasis is more on the entertainment appeal to the masses. Still, this series is a huge hit. The repeat on Wednesday night beat out "American Idol" in the ratings. Maybe I should look at it as Paul looked at those giving the Gospel for less than grand motive, people are hearing the Bible stories. When a film is a big hit, many people run out and buy the book.

Perhaps this will encourage many people to read THE BOOK, The Bible. But then again, maybe they will just buy the novelization written by Mark Burkett and Roma Downey, and I don't know if that will be truth or merely entertaining stories told in a truthful way. 


Pastor Randy Scott said...

I could not have put it any better, I was so disturbed again how they just left God of everything He was key in!! I like you can only hope it drives people to the word of God to prove what they have seen Hollywood butcher!!

Jon said...

I started watching "The Bible" with high expectations and an open mind. As the series unfolded I became dismayed and eventually disgusted. I'm wondering if the people who made this atrocity even bothered to read the Bible. It is bloody awful and often historically inacurate.

The actors look like nothing more than 21st century people in biblical costumes.
And that black Sampson with the dreadlock hairstyle was absurd!!

Al Yerks said...

We should always be suspect when Hollywood embraces anything to do with the Bible. This is a dog with no bite, the teeth of theological truth are missing, along with the canines of the Gospel Of Jesus Christ. Even the Old Testament points us to the coming Savior of the world, not just someone that is going to change the world with super model looks to dazzle us all. We should all read Isaiah 53:2 again, it's pretty clear. Great post, thanks!