Film is a powerful medium. People look at a movie based on a true story and they accept what they see as truth when often it isn't. When Pontius Pilate asked, "What is truth?", he asked a very profound question. What is truth in this world? When you turn on the TV and hear talking heads arguing any subject, can you really discern the truth? Truth is a rarity, so when you believe someone is truthful and then you catch them in a lie, even a little lie, it is very hard to ever believe them again.
We can even look at the film to see how hard trust is to regain by their presentation of Paul. When he first appears he stirs the crowd up against Steven, even picking up the first stone. (Scripture simply says that when Steven was stoned there was a young man in the crowd who had their cloaks at his feet and his name was Saul of Tarsus. In this episode he is always referred to as Paul and never Saul.) Saul then goes on a rampage of brutalizing Christians. (Let's overlook the meeting with Caiaphus and being assigned Malkis to help him.) The point is, after his conversion, Paul has a hard time persuading the Christians to trust him. Once trust is lost it is hard to regain.
I didn't really care for this portrayal of Saul/Paul as something of a sociopathic maniac in the beginning by the way, but who knows...maybe he was.
Anyway, I believe the Scriptures and I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. I also had History Channel as a favorite for several years. I enjoyed their various historic enactments. But if they are to take historic events and change happenings and characters and take literary license for the sake of dramatic effect, how can I trust anything they say?
I never expected "The Bible Series" to be perfect, but I never expected so much to either be added or deleted for the sake of entertainment. My real hope, especially as it proved popular, is for people unfamiliar with the Bible to go to Scriptures with real interest and this would open them up to discuss the meanings of The Word. But what happens if they turn to the Scriptures and find a number of things quiet different from the TV series? Will they trust either?
Of course, they stuck with traditional images, rather than perhaps historic fact. Most likely Jesus would have carried the patibulum or crossbar of the cross upon his back, as the thieves did. The patibulum generally weighted about 100 pounds. You can imagine then what the longer piece, the stiles weighted. Christ would have struggled with the crosspiece alone in his beaten state, especially after a scourging. He would have loss a lot of blood and been dehydrated. Remember he hadn't eaten and had little or nothing to drink over this period of time as well.
The other tradition used was portraying Simon of Cyrene as a Black Man. This belief came about because Cyrene is in Libya. However, there existed at the time a large colony of Israelites living in Libya, around 100,000. It is more likely Simon was one of these Jewish colonists come to Jerusalem for the Passover. But these are small points and it is possible Simon was black.
I was cringing more at how they presented Mary Magdalene as one of the Apostles, speaking in tongues at Pentecost, urging the Disciples to show faith and going out to spread the message (Mary apparently taking the Gospel to Antioch, right).
I was also a bit mystified at the scene where John hung from a chain and these Roman Guards poured a bowl of something into his mouth. The narrator had been telling us how each of the Apostles died and said, "John was poisoned in Rome.
A little later we are told the "Roman's failed to kill John, however" and he was banished to Patmos.We see John's eyes open as he lays on the prison floor and then he spits up.
I went searching for this tale and could find nothing about the Roman's poisoning John. The only "legend" I found was that the Roman's had thrown John into a pot of boiling oil to kill him, but he didn't die.
Anyway, enough of my carping because much of what was shown was close to Scripture. I think the Word of God gets heard where people have become seekers, even if in the mouth of demons. That seemed to be somewhat the attitude of Paul and that's good enough for me.
Philippians 1:15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
And so I rejoice too.
And in Luke 9:49-50 we find:
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
In the end, The Bible Series is for us, because it opens the doors and makes it easier to talk of these things.