History Channel’s The Bible: In the Beginning

..There’s got to be a way to look at it from a pure literature point of view – Mark Burnett

I love mini-series. The scope, the fleeting nature of it has always appealed to me. There’s some excellent ones: Into the West, some deliciously cheesy ones: The 10th Kingdom, some based on beloved books that fell far too short: Mists of Avalon, and then there’s The Bible. Written and produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, it’s scope alone brought potential. I love the stories of Joseph, and David, and Ruth, and Esther. However, biblical films and television has always been cheesy. I did enjoy Kings, but that wasn’t well received. Still, like I said, I’m a sucker for mini-series. It took less than an hour to realize my fears were being realized. It was so cheesy. Even without Kirk Cameron. Now, I grew up in the church. I even went to Bible College, so my knowledge of what they’re trying to present, while not vast, is more than some people. And I have a list of problems with this mini-series. So I’ll use this blog to list them, and dare I say it? Rant? I’ll have acting/directing/writing rants, and factual rants. Don’t even get me started on White Jesus (okay, at least he’s not English, the actor is Portuguese, but still, I’d love to see a middle eastern Jesus). I’ll leave that to the episodes he’s actually in.

Caveat: some of you reading may not believe biblical history. That’s fine. I’m not debating that. For the purpose of these blog posts, I’m assuming it’s correct. So if you need to take a grain of salt, go ahead.

So the first episode: “In The Beginning”.

We’re on a boat. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). The weather out there is frightful and the animals are freaking out. Noah is trying to calm his family by telling the story of how the earth was formed. “In the beginning,” he intones, and that’s where my first scoff comes from. Moses is said to have written the Pentateuch – of which Genesis is a member. How did Moses know exactly what Noah said? After thinking about it, I was going to concede it was allowed, as oral history was alive and well at that time. But then I remembered, that the english translation has been taken from aramaic, greek, you name it. You’re saying we got a language from 2,000+ years ago correct? Shut the front door The Bible.

On to Lot. Some crazy stuff happened after Lot escaped Sodom and Gomorrah with his daughters. Crazy gross stuff which resulted in a child who founded the Midianites. Where Ruth came from, and from Ruth, David, and from David, Jesus. Quite the interesting thing to miss out on, yes?

Acting sidenote: The narrative said while Lot and Abram (wasn’t Abraham at that point) parted, to Abram it was like losing a son.  How about instead of narrating (and who is narrating?  Is it Jesus?  John the Baptist?), having the actor show the emotion.  You know, like actors do.

Don’t forget Ishmael. No, not Ahab’s. The Bible leaves Ishmael and Hagar out in the desert. No mention of the angel who helped him. No mention that Ishmael was the father of the Arab nation. Interesting omission.

Aside: when God provides a sacrifice in lieu of Isaac, it’s a ram, not a lamb.

And why did they completely gloss over Jacob vs. Esau, Rachel vs. Leah, and Joseph vs. his brothers? That whole episode explains why the Israelites were in Egypt, and how revered they were, and how far they fell in 400 years when they were slaves.

Oh, Egypt. Moses was an Israelite boy who was saved when his sister Miriam put his basket among the reeds when the Pharaoh at the time massacred all the wee male Israelites to stop over-population. He was then found by the sister of the Pharaoh and brought up in the royal court. He was an Israelite. In The Bible, he looks Egyptian. Except that when he ages, he’s miraculously Caucasian. That happens??? No mention of Zipporah and how she saved Moses (her husband) by performing an impromptu bris.

No mention of one of the most frustrating parts of Exodus. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. So there were all these plagues, and from what I understand God made it so Pharaoh did not relent. I have never had this explained to me.

Another sidenote: After the Exodus of the Israelites, and the Red Sea stopped being parted, Pharaoh was also killed. I doubt he would have time to scream Moses’ name one last time.

Humorous sidenote: Moses saying, “let my people go” made me giggle. I wonder how many takes they had to do.

More omissions:

  • No mention of the complaining going on which caused them to wander for 40 years.
  • No mention of the building of the golden calf which caused Moses to throw down the tablets on which the 10 Commandments were written up.
  • No mention of Moses getting pissed off and not doing what God asked which is why Moses couldn’t enter the Promised Land. Why did we only see the good part of Moses? He wasn’t perfect. This is why people don’t like Christians. Christians are afraid to let people see their faults.
  • No mention of the spies (among them Caleb and Joshua) checking out the Land of Milk & Honey, and their courage despite the “giants”, which made them the only ones of that generation to actually see the Promised Land.

Next week: Jericho!   (Not the one with Skeet Ulrich)



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