History or Not, Here We Come!

Read Isaiah 55


“But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.’” (Mark 9:39-40 NRSV)

the_bibleJust recently a new series came out on the History Channel called, “The Bible”. I was so excited to sit down and watch this series as I am a huge fan of films that are based on biblical stories. So, when I heard that this new ten hour miniseries would devote five hours to the Hebrew Scriptures (aka the Old Testament) and five hours to the Christian Scriptures (aka the New Testament), I must admit that I got very excited indeed.

Of course, as soon as I started to watch the series, my excitement grew into disappointment. I mean, the film opens up with a Sean Connery look alike playing Noah, the rainbow is arching over the ark while it is still afloat on the flood waters. They show a glimpse of creation from a 21st century, scientific understanding of the universe. The majority of the actors looked like they came out of a church in Nebraska and look nothing like the people of near eastern descent; they all had British accents, which confounds me as I do not believe that Israel is in Great Britain. And to top it all off, they had Jesus walking around in the Hebrew Scripture stories as “The Angel of the LORD”, which is certainly not what the Hebrew authors intended being that they had no clue who Jesus of Nazareth was, since they were writing about 500 – 1,000 years before Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth.

But then I realized that I was missing the larger point. Perhaps I was letting my theological stance, my historical stance, and my other academic stances get in the way of what was really going on there. After all, the producers of this series never claimed to be producing a historically accurate, word-for-word film on the Bible; rather, they were producing an adaptation of the most beloved Bible stories in the hope that the series would spark and interest in reading the Bible.

Despite the fear that people will stop short of reading and just take the series’ account of the Bible as being the Gospel truth, I realize that God can and does work through all things. Gods ways are not our ways, and there is nothing too great or too small for God. Often times, we let our own conceptions of God get in the way of what God is calling us to be a part of. Instead of getting caught up on the minute details, we should be celebrating the miracle that God is working in and through many different people, who come from many different walks of life.

While, as a theologian and a historian, there is much to cringe at when it comes to the presentation of the Biblical stories found within The Bible series, as a Christian and an avid Bible-reader, I celebrate the miracle that a successful couple in Hollywood had the courage to take a risk on such a series, and I celebrate the miracle that a major network such as the History Channel, took the risk to air it on their station.

So, what I am going to do is encourage you to click your way over to the History Channel and view the new miniseries every Sunday through Easter at 8 p.m. But I am not going to stop there. Enjoy the film series, get enraptured in the epic drama of it and in the special effects; however, when you are done watching it, pick up your Bible and read the stories for yourself. After all, don’t you know that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie? Read the Bible, you won’t regret it.


God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. – Martin Luther


Lord, I thank you for creating such a broad and wide stream for us to swim in. And I thank you for placing me in it to swim. Give me a desire for your word and a desire to experience it in all the ways I can. Amen.

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