From Genesis to Revelation: The Bible is All One Story
- Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Bible-believing audience members will also be delighted to know that Burnett and Downey took the job of researching and accuracy very seriously. The team of writers was aided by many orthodox Jewish and Christian scholars, theologians, and experts. When preparing the actors for scenes, Burnett and Downey were constantly discussing the context and intent of each biblical scenario. They carried around Bibles on set, and were often found flipping through its pages to get a refresher on what the Source had to say, before filming!
The writers of The Bible had a daunting task before them. They had to transform the 66 books of the Bible into a 10-hour miniseries with a single through-line. “I don’t think many of the writers are believers,” Mark Burnett admitted. However, according to Burnett, all the writers got together, studied the Bible, and the single, overarching story of man’s journey back to God emerged.
So while The Bible has benefited from intense scholarship and deep love of the Source, it remains audience friendly – specifically because Burnett and Downey were trying make a product that would fascinate those less biblically literate, not confuse them. They did add, take away, and change things to keep the stories clean, simple, cohesive, or even to add a dramatic flair. For example, some artistic liberty is taken in the saga of Abraham’s sacrificing of Isaac. Burnett and Downey wanted to add a raw, poignant twist to the story, so they crafted the scene in such a way that Sarah, Isaac’s mother, discovers what Abraham is planning to do after she finds out they have left to make the sacrifice. Sarah is not mentioned in the biblical narrative, but watching her chase after Abraham, hoping to reach them before he kills the son of their old age, is a heart-wrenching look at the scenario through a mother’s eyes.
One final thing to expect and enjoy is the celebration of ethnicity and women – something often missing in retellings of biblical stories. The cast is chiefly British, and they appear to make no attempt to hide or change their accents. Members of cast are of Caucasian and African descent – with a gentle, young Portuguese actor in the role of Jesus Christ. Much to the delight of many modern audience members, Mary Magdalene is not forgotten. In much scholarship, Mary is viewed as the “apostle to the apostles” – one who travelled with the twelve, stayed with Jesus even after the apostles fled, and was the first to see him resurrected. Downey and Burnett honor that legacy, including Mary in many scenes and travels where previous adaptations of the gospels have often left her out or glossed over her.
All in all, when you sit down to watch The Bible, expect love. The filmmakers have an intense love of the Lord, and a passion for the Bible. According to Burnett and Downey, the set was constantly awash in prayer (often led by Roma Downey, a “prayer warrior” according to her husband). Producers described to the press a beautiful moment on the last day of filming where Diogo Morgando, playing Jesus, prayed over the cast and crew in Portuguese, his native tongue.
The adaptation won’t be perfect, will likely be over the top or too dramatic in some places, and certainly won’t please everyone. It may speak too loudly to already-Christians and not garner interest of those unfamiliar with (or skeptical of) Christianity. But it was definitely made with a passion for the Lord. Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and the cast and crew of The Bible set out to prepare the way of the Lord, and to show how great the Father’s love for us truly is.
This is exemplified stirringly by John the Baptist, in a scene of The Bible where his jailer demands of him the Messiah’s whereabouts.
“He’s already here,” John says from behind bars. “Out there. Speaking God’s truth. Opening the hearts of all men.”
*This Article First Published 2/5/2013
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