In the Beginning…

On a cold, November afternoon in New York City, one small screening room nestled in a large hotel contained almost more excitement than it could hold. And all of the excitement was bursting from two individuals: Roma Downey (star of Touched by an Angel) and her husband, TV producer Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor) as they showcased an hour and a half of footage from their upcoming television miniseries, The Bible.

The Bible premiers on The History Channel on March 3rd 2013, and is set to be a project of epic proportions. With ten hours of footage making it into the final cut, it features major highlights from the biblical narrative, including the Garden of Eden, Abraham and Isaac, the saga of David and Saul, Daniel in Babylon, and the ministries of both Jesus and Paul. The producers explained several reasons as to why they chose to span the whole Bible, instead of just focusing on a single narrative.

“It’s one story,” Burnett explains. And what is that story?

“We fell away from God’s grace,” says Downey. “The arching journey [of The Bible] had to be how we got back to God.”

Each episode continues to build upon this through-line, with Jesus ultimately providing The Way back to God, according to Downey.

Another motivation they cited was that today’s audiences don’t have a great biblical epic to watch. Downey spoke to members of the press about growing up captivated by The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. But when watching that film with her own children, they are quicker to critique the outdated visual effects than to soak in the story. So, producers have done everything possible to keep the special effects fresh and true to the grand scale of the Bible itself. (Apparently the most special-effect-laden scene will be the parting of the Red Sea…watch for that!)

Additionally, Burnett and Downey want to provide an exciting means of educating people on what is actually in the Bible – something people often don’t know. The Bible is a foundational part of our society, explain Downey and Burnett, and not knowing about it can be a real drawback.

Finally, they desire to spark new passion, both in Christians and the unchurched. The project is “for a secular audience” says Mark – to pique interest in Christianity. But the religious, too, need a spark sometimes. “Some people know so many details [of the Bible],” Mark continued, “but they don’t love it.”

Long-time believers Downey and Burnett have been waiting years to make this, and their passion for the project is evident. The process began more than three years ago, culminating in a large-scale, high budget shoot in Morocco. This shoot included snakes (and professional snake catchers), long days of filming, and “dust in places we didn’t know existed” according to Downey. But during their time with the press, the film makers exuded an amazing peace and confidence about The Bible. According to the couple, God calls the right people with the right skill set at the right time. That’s how everything got done.

What to Look For in The Bible

For what it’s worth, The Bible will look and sound beautiful. In addition to the previously high standards of special effects and the desert majesty of Morocco, the score features the dynamic pair Lisa Gerrard (vocals) and Hans Zimmer (score) who haven’t worked together since the stunning soundtrack of Gladiator. With one of the world’s most beloved composers creating the aural soundscape, The Bible measures up handsomely in the music department.