The Bible on the History Channel

Have you heard about the miniseries, The Bible, which has been airing on the History Channel for the past month or so?

The History Channel’s website notes:

“The Bible comes to life in HISTORY’s epic new series. From Genesis to Revelation, these unforgettable stories unfold through live action and cutting-edge computer-generated imagery, offering new insight into famous scenes and iconic characters. Created by producer Mark Burnett and featuring an international cast that includes Roma Downey, this 10-hour docudrama explores the sacred text’s most significant episodes, including Noah’s journey in the ark, the Exodus and the life of Jesus.”

This network is part of a secular business providing television programs for profit. They have no objections to bringing a modern perspective by making a miniseries about the Bible more adventurous or “cool.” The whole point is entertainment.

So I’m confused when I hear dismay, disappointment, and even shock expressed by Christians who are angry at the programs’ biblical errors.

A few of the inaccuracies cited by those who are protesting this series include:

–       Noah tells his family that God caused the flood because Cain killed Abel

–       The angels who rescue Lot do so, but are injured as they barely escape

–       Abraham is shown arguing with God about sacrificing Isaac

–       David showing no remorse regarding Bathsheba

–       Daniel as a young man in the lion’s den (rather than in his 80s)

–       Jesus is shown as pleading with Peter to have him follow Him

–       During the Last Supper, the actor playing Jesus neglects to say that the sacrifice of the body and blood is for the forgiveness of sins.

Protesters quote Bible verses such as:

Deuteronomy 4:2 – “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it”

Revelations 22:19 – “And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”

But this is a ten-hour miniseries, not a Bible study or a documentary, no matter how reverent the motives of those behind the project. Christians cannot expect non-Christians to handle the Bible with the same reverence we have for our holy God. Apart from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, they simply don’t have that ability.

So do we write off the program as sacrilegious? Or does it have some redeeming value?

What do you think?


22 responses to “The Bible on the History Channel”

  1. Paulette says:

    We dvr’d the show and have only watched the first episode. We will probably watch the rest when there is nothing else to do. I thought it was kind of violent, which I suppose the bible is. I did like the ninja angel, could have had more of him! Although inaccurate, it was more true to the bible than most TV is. It seems to me that the bible acknowledged as history is quite remarkable in today’s society. Christians really shouldn’t expect Hollywood to do more than this. We should support their efforts, the more exposure people have to the bible the more likely that they will explore it on their own. Will anyone be saved by seeing this TV show? God’s word never comes back void.

  2. Mandi says:

    I think that no matter the inaccuracies, this is another way for the Word to be spread to an audience that may not have taken an interest before. I don’t think we can discount the value in this type of entertainment. But it is that – Entertainment. From a Christian perspective — it may lead people to try to find out more of the Truth, which only comes from studying the Bible, not watching a t.v. mini-series. This is a great way to reach out to the secular world, but it is not a tool for Bible study.

  3. Nancy, says:

    But the mini series is being produced by people who say that they ARE Christians. The fact that Matthew 1:21 was omitted really disappointed me. I heard some talk before it was aired that questioned if it was going to be just like ‘touch by an angel’ no conviction about sin and it is. This is not one I will be buying.

  4. Pat Lesser says:

    It’s an ok overview of the Bible. Might peak the interest of some to read for themselves. God knows and will use it for good. It is much better than most of what is shown on the screen in our living rooms.

  5. admin says:

    I like your focus, Paulette –> God’s Word never comes back void.

  6. admin says:

    Mandi – you’re right, it’s not a tool for Bible study, yet it could be a first step for a non-Christian to learn about the Bible. Thanks for commenting!

  7. admin says:

    Nancy – thanks for commenting. You are not alone – many Christians have been disappointed by it.

  8. admin says:

    Pat, isn’t it reassuring that God can and will use it for good to accomplish His purposes!

  9. I am so disappointed in the comments I and attitudes of Christians. Really, they’d rather watch American Idol? So sad! I am enjoying it and watching it with my Bible on my lap and sure between Hollywood and History channel let’s be reasonable in what we expect BUT I think the overall message is beautiful. I get to see this amazing depiction on screen on Sunday night and see some good and some creative liberties taken…yet for the most part I just think if it causes someone to want to crack their Bible and read it which many Christians don’t do…well good. Or even if it makes them wonder! My big challenge came when Cyrus not Darius had Daniel in the lions den. Since my daughter and I are studying that time period and I also just finished teaching on some of the Israelite history at this time, I ended up with a call to my Pastor, multiple timelines and old testament survey as well as the Bible open…all in all a thoroughly enjoyable adventure!

  10. I also agree with Paulette and Mandi’s comments!

  11. admin says:

    Dawn – I love that you watched the miniseries with your Bible open! (And yes, for me, the program is definitely a step up from other fare on television!)

  12. My husband, Bruce, and I appreciate the effort Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are making to introduce The Bible scripturally and as a historical reference. This movie is made for ” the world” to point people ( and this country) to the Lord. Yes, there have been inacuracies, but many, many more actuate depictions of biblical accounts. An example of accuracy is when David and his rag tag band of men actually did enter Jerusalem through an underground water system. We didn’t know this and had to look it up. It is, indeed, true. Let’s be thankful, in this day when all that can be shaken is being be shaken, someone is highlighting our Bible and bringing it to light. Can anyone out there do a better job?

  13. Moe says:

    I have been watching this with my 85 year old catholic mother. With my encouragement she has recently read the Bible for the first time, and continues to read the Bible daily. We recently went to Israel and she now attends regular Bible studies. The inaccuracies are confusing for her. I TIVO the series, so I have to pause it to explain the discrepancies. What about the people that are just learning and aren’t watching with someone that can explain the differences between the Bible and Hollywood? I think Samuel anointing David in front of his father and brothers would have made for a better Hollywood seen, than him anointing him alone in the dessert, and it would have been biblically accurate.

  14. Pam Walsh says:

    My husband and I are watching the Bible miniseries also. It is wonderful that we can watch together, and like Dawn, with our Bible open, follow along noting the truth from the theatrics. I believe also that God will use this series for His good. I already see it in some of our non-saved family members who are watching and actually asking questions….it has opened the lines of communication, where before there was no way that they would listen.

  15. admin says:

    Pam, I love that you’re prepared for those questions when they come!

  16. admin says:

    Moe – what a blessing it is for your mother to have you to explain what the Bible really says!

  17. admin says:

    Lynne – It’s good that the Bible is being “brought to light,” as you said. Although it isn’t a perfect recounting, God can (and will) use it for His glory!

  18. Moe says:

    I have been blessed to have studied under great teachers, present company included

  19. admin says:

    Thank you, Moe! 🙂

  20. MaryAnn Rudnitsky says:

    I didnt watch it all because I thought it was too violent. I was disappointed because Solana really wanted to see all of it and at one point she turned to me and said “Mom the word of God is so powerful that they don’t need to use all this violence to touch people or get there point across! ” It was more of an eye opener for me to see how much Solana really knows about the bible. She would call my mom to discuss some things she thought were “off.” I did learn something though……Samson was the first Rhastafarian??????

  21. admin says:

    Ummm, yeah, I wondered about that, too! 🙂
    Seriously, though, what a blessing it is for you to see how much your daughter knows and appreciates God’s Word!

  22. Nancy Troisi says:

    I saw a video interview that was done about 1-2 months ago and Roma Downey states that she is Catholic. As for other inaccuracies, there was no woman in the boat when Jesus walked on water and asked Peter to do the same.

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