The Bible Miniseries Part One: Creation to Jericho Thoughts and Commentary

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Christian Beliefs

The Bible aired it’s first 2 of ten hours the other night on the History Channel and I must say that in my humble opinion they’ve done a might fine job of selecting and showing the stories chosen.

The Ark/ 6 Days of Creation

The choice to start onboard the Ark and have Noah narrating the Creation story was really smart. And even though we only spent a very short amount of time on the Ark section of the story, it was by far the superior to NBC’s Noah’s Ark many moons ago. This Ark section and the way it was filmed practically made you a passenger on the Ark with Noah and his family, the waves smashing in, water leaks happening, Noah fixing the side of the Ark. It felt very real and powerful.

The interspersed shots from the 6 Days of Creation were also very beautiful. My favorite of them all might have been the close up of Adam Sitting up made of the dust of the earth. However I think the story was told beautifully even in its shortened nature.

Abram/Abraham and His Family

I will just say this right now but I really think that they got a great cast of actors and actresses to fill out the entire roster of characters. I really felt the family dynamic between Abram-Abraham/Lot/Sarah and the heartbreak Moses felt over Lot and his family. Storming the camp with his men to free Lot only have Lot say no and the emotion on his face.

The Sodom and Gomorrah was very well realized. Some dramatic liberties were taken however this is entertainment and that cannot be forgotten, and what was added fit into the dynamic-ism of their telling of the story. Also I’ll note that the Biblical story was intact, the Angels blinded the me of Sodom, they provided protection for Lot and his family intercut wonderfully with Abraham overlooking the event and having the famous chat with The Pre-Incarnate Christ.

And is it wrong that I actually was kind of relieved when Lot’s wife turned into that pillar of salt.

Once again comparing the scene to the one in NBC’s Noah’s Ark (Which re-arranged stories willy nilly for dramatic effect) is night and day. This is serious, showing God’s righteous anger. Showing how frightening it is to fall under the wrath of an angry God. Whereas in Noah’s Ark Lot snaps off part of his wife’s finger and keeps it for a souvenir.

We see Hagar and Ishmael, and Sarah laughing when she’s told she’ll bear a son. I love how they touch on the fact that he was to be named Issac which means laughter.

The scene with Abraham and Isaac going into the mountain to sacrifice was perhaps my least favorite bit of revision for dramatic purposes. I’m quite certain that in the Bible story they actually go quite a way on a long trip whereas here they are really just going up the mountain they’re camped right beside. This enables Sarah to try and run up the mountain to stop Abraham (although it’s clear she’d never make it in time). However the moment of truth is very powerful, and the bleating of a lamb has never sounded so powerful.

Moses and the Exodus

I really liked this section of the teleplay, as a screenwriter I was very impressed at how quickly they were able to consolidate Moses back story and inter cut it with him as a young man who’s forgotten his past. I’m not really sure if Moses would have forgotten his upbringing and God but it served the purposes of the story well and the transition to the wilderness part of his story with the striking down of the Egyptian taskmaster was well done.

The burning bush section was wonderful to look at however I really wanted to hear “Take off your sandals for the ground on which you are standing is Holy Ground.” And perhaps- “They would ask for you name Lord who should I tell them has sent me?” “Tell them I Am has sent me to you.” However, overall, the scene was beautifully shot and acted and I love the way it ended withe the fire lifting off to reveal the perfectly fine greenery underneath.

The showdown with Pharaoh was well done, and the turning the Nile to Blood was exceedingly well done. They showed just enough of the next 8 plagues to make you realize just how bad they were, not to mention great shots of Pharaoh yelling “NOOOOOOO!”…so that they could really really show the Angel of Death.

This whole sequence was done very well, clearly showing the blood came from a sheep and then spreading it on the sides and tops of the doors. And the sound design and pacing of the arrival and work of the Angel of Death was terrific.

The Red Sea was epic!

Man oh man, I’ve seen this done on a number of occasions and I quite like how not two of them are alike. I really like the Red Sea scene in The Prince of Egypt.

On this occasion the water is dark, cold, uninviting and full of towering menace. This is all about showing the supernatural power of God, it’s not about showing fish that you can see swimming in the walls of water. It’s about showing God’s power!

All of the SFX shots so far in the series look really great I think…but the ones in this scene really take the cake. There was just something so real, gritty and just overwhelming about them. When the waters came back in crashing down upon the Egyptians you could feel the weight and I certainly flinched pretty good at the immensity of it.

I never thought I’d say I missed the complaining of the mixed multitude but I did. Also perhaps a couple of minutes could’ve been used to show the deadly serpents in the camp, where Moses had to make the bronze serpent for the Israelites to look at. (However I believe we might see that during the New Testament section during Christs conversation with Nick and Night).

We get the 10 Commandments and then wham 40 years later.

Preparing for the Battle of Jericho

Love the dude playing Joshua. And the Ark of the Covenant was looking pretty nice. Rahab is gonna be hiding some Israelites.

Overall Review

When I listened to the Focus on the Family interview with Producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey I could tell they had a total passion for God and sharing his word. A lot of hard decisions had to be made on what stories to showcase and how to give the stories enough time and yet move the overall story forward.

I think they’ve really got something amazing going on here I can’t quite give Part One a full 5 out of 5 so a 4.5 out of 5 will have to do!

Oh and just as I suspected the score by Hans Zimmer and Company featuring Lisa Gerrard was excellent.

I certainly recommend that you continue watching…or start if you for some reason missed this episode.

Next Sunday

It looks like we’re going to go though Joshua’s conquest, the time of the Judges Samson is looking pretty awesome. And onward into the time of the Kings with the story of Saul and David.

See you guys next Tuesday with a review of Part 2!

In Christ,

Ross

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