THE BIBLE - Full Review
The Message of God’s Word Comes Alive
Starring: Diogo Morgado, Roma Downey,
Gary Oliver, William Houston,
Darwin Shaw, Keith David, Sean
Knopp, Hugo Rossi, Will
Houston, Soraya Radford,
Adrian Schiller, Francis
Magee, Simon Kunz, Con
O’Neill, Nonso Anozi, Jassa
Ahluwalia, Langley Kirkwood,
Jake Canuso, Peter Guinness,
Kierston Wareing, Paul
Freeman, Melia Kreiling,
Sebastian Knapp, Greg Hick,
Amber Rose Revah
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 450 minutes
Distributor: History Channel/A&E Television
Director: Crispin Reece, Tony Mitchell,
Executive Producer: Richard Bedser, Mark Burnett,
Producer: Annie Macnee, Randy
Writer: Richard Bedser, Nic Young,
Christopher Spencer, Colin
Swash, Alexander Marengo
Address Comments To:Abbe Raven, CEO/President, A&E Television Networks (A&E Channel/The History Channel/Lifetime Television)
234 East 45th Street
New York, NY, 10017
Phone: (212) 210-1400; Fax: (212) 210-9755
Website: www.aetv.com; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first episode of the TV series THE BIBLE begins with Noah as he and his family huddle together in the ark amidst the crashing of the waves. Noah comforts his family by recounting the creation of the universe from Genesis One.
The clear theme of episode one is God’s covenant promise to His people. From Noah, the narrator transitions to Abraham, whose descendants, God promised, would be more numerous than the stars. Much of the episode focuses on the faith of Abram and Sarai (who are renamed Abraham and Sarah), which is always being tested. God sees the strong faith of Abraham and blesses him for it. His descendants multiply just as God promised.
THE BIBLE then takes the audience to the time of Moses. We see how Moses learned his true identity as a child of God and how he brought God’s people out of slavery from Pharaoh. He proclaims to the Israelites that God is with them and His covenant to His people still stands. This two-hour-long, first segment of THE BIBLE ends with Moses handing down the reins to Joshua and grabs the viewer with a cliff-hanger ending.
The second episode to the THE BIBLE miniseries is likely the most exciting one. Though it paces through the Old Testament at lightning speed, it covers the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho and his promise to protect Rahab. Even though many nations seek to destroy Israel, God’s covenant with his people protect them from overwhelming odds.
One of the enemies of Israel are the Philistines, who constantly oppress God’s people. God blesses a man named Samson with incredible strength to fight the Philistines, but he’s betrayed by a woman named Delilah who discovers how to make Samson weak.
Both of these Biblical stories are creatively told. Samson is played by African American actor Nonso Anozie who gives a wonderful performance as a strong and powerful yet vulnerable man. His relationship with Delilah ends up destroying his life, but God allows him one more strike against the Philistines.
The attacks against the nation of Israel continue for some time. Eventually, they demand high priest Samuel for a king. Samuel advises against it, but God decides to grant them their wish, so Samuel anoints Saul as their king. Saul becomes corrupted by power and greed to the point of even disobeying direct orders from God.
God commands Samuel to anoint the shepherd boy David as the future king of Israel. As David joins the armies of Saul and becomes the greatest warrior in Israel, Saul becomes jealous of David and tries to kill him. David spends a long period of time fleeing from Saul, but eventually Saul dies in battle, and David is crowned king of Israel.
However, much like Saul, David becomes corrupted and even commits adultery and murder. At a great price, David repents of his sin, and God forgives him. Even so, it will be David’s son, Solomon, who will build God’s temple.
In Episode 3, Babylon invades Israel and makes its people slaves. Nebuchadnezzar demands that his subjects worship him. However, faithful believers like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow to Nebuchadnezzar. He angrily throws them into a fire, but God protects them from the flames. This causes Nebuchadnezzar to fear the true God of Israel and repent, but later he goes insane and eventually his kingdom is taken over by Darius. The Israelite Daniel, who serves as one of the king’s “magicians,” befriends King Darius. However, the king’s other advisors convince him to sign a law that would require the death of Daniel, because he serves the God of Israel. Daniel is thrown into a den of lions, but God protects him, and God’s power becomes evident to Darius, who brings back Daniel.
Eventually, the Jews are allowed back into Israel, but the Romans come to occupy Israel with their own forms of torture and destruction. Israel cries out for deliverance, not knowing that the Savior of the world has come. Jesus is born at a dangerous time in humble circumstances. Herod commands the death of all baby boys in Bethlehem. Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus barely escape. The rule of Judea transfers over to the ruthless Pilate.
The ministry of Jesus starts when he is baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus then starts his recruitment of disciples where he enlists Peter and declares to him his mission to change the world.
The third episode of THE BIBLE shows God blessing those who are faithful to Him. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Joseph, and Mary are all tested in their faith, but God provides sanctuary and protection for each one of them. Though some of the CGI of the city of Jerusalem is weakest in these episodes, it’s also one of the more powerful segments of the series. The backstory often forgotten in the life of Jesus is presented in the backdrop of the social unrest between the Jews and the Romans.
The fourth episode begins with Jesus being confronted by a Pharisee about his teaching and the miracles Jesus performs as he travels the land with His apostles. During the first hour, Jesus preaches parts of the Sermon on the Mount and makes the claim that he is the Messiah and has power to forgive sins. This upsets the Pharisees even more.
Finally, as tension mounts between the Romans and the Jews during Passover, Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowds around Jesus increase as Jesus goes to the temple and overturns the tables of the moneychangers. The high priest Caiaphas decides that Jesus must be killed, and he finds out that one of Christ’s apostles, Judas, is ready and willing to betray Jesus. The fourth episode ends with the Last Supper, the betrayal, and the Pharisees condemning Jesus to death.
The fifth and final installment of THE BIBLE starts with the trial of Jesus before Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate has Jesus whipped to satisfy a biased crowd ginned up by Caiaphas and the Pharisees, but the crowd still isn’t satisfied. So, after questioning Jesus, Pilate decides to have Him be crucified.
The rest of the first half covers Christ’s death and resurrection. Though Peter denies Jesus three times, after Jesus rises from the dead and ascends to heaven, he becomes emboldened and preaches to a large crowd in Jerusalem on Pentecost.
However, new trouble comes when a Pharisee named Saul spewing hatred for Christians and chomping at the bit to destroy them. He takes the lead in stoning of Stephen to death. On the road to Damascus, he meets Jesus and becomes Paul, the Apostle called to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. In one scene, the love chapter in Chapter 13 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is presented as a sermon that convinces Luke to become his companion.
The series concludes with a description of how the disciples died, but never wavered in their testimony. John survives being poisoned, only to be exiled on the island of Patmos. Finally, Jesus briefly shares with John some details about His Second Coming, when He will judge the living and the dead.
The beauty of the TV miniseries THE BIBLE is how it weaves the Biblical accounts together while keeping the historical and emotional integrity of Scripture. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey do a masterful job adapting such a large and incredibly significant portion of Scripture. Some details of certain historical accounts are left out due to time constraints. Also, the teachings of God in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus in the New Testament documents are often abridged and paraphrased for dramatic purposes and for clarity. So, by no means can this TV series, or any other for that matter, replace the inspired written Word of God – the Bible.
However, THE BIBLE succeeds in making history come alive. Best of all, the final four hours show the Gospel of Jesus Christ being clearly preached, leading to repentance and forgiveness, and winning hearts and minds. In trying to present the Bible in ten hours, the producers have done a tremendous job of showing the value of having faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ as LORD.
Parents do need to exercise caution on whether THE BIBLE is appropriate for their younger children. There are some heavier action sequences and implied sexual sins that aren’t suitable for the youngest viewers. Otherwise, however, from the first episode to the last, THE BIBLE is tremendously exciting, inspiring, and uplifting. The miniseries reminds us that God is always with us, with Jesus Christ as our shepherd.
The beauty of THE BIBLE is how it weaves the Biblical accounts together while keeping the spiritual, emotional integrity of Scripture. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey do a masterful job adapting Scripture. Some details are left out due to time, and there are some additions for dramatic effect. Even so, the miniseries succeeds in making history come alive while clearly preaching the Gospel. Caution is required due to some intense violence and implied sexual sin. Otherwise, however, THE BIBLE is tremendously exciting and inspiring.