Sunday, March 3, 2013

The History Channel ruined "The Bible"

Sean Ewart

"After this wanna grab a coffee and watch TED?"
"Oh, Jesus, you're so white."

Like a member of Opus Dei I participated in a ritual of brutal self punishment tonight. Not having a television of my own (because I have The Internet), I went to the home of a family friend and watched part one of the History Channel's miniseries called “The Bible.”

Opening with Noah explaining how God created the universe, “The Bible” recounts the “best-of” the Bible in a series of unconnected skits thrown together with the production values of an American Pie movie. This tasteless rendition is made worse by the insistence of the producers to cast Anglo-Saxons in the leading roles – even Mel Gibson cast actual Semites, and he hates Jews.

Putting aside the production of the film, “The Bible” does do a fair job of following the Bible. There is very little story in the Bible, especially in the early books. There's narrative, but there's no soul. And that becomes apparent in “The Bible.”

For instance, God's love of Abraham and his descendents is never explained in “The Bible.” And besides token references to a covenant, it's never explained in the Bible either. It's just that the plot hole becomes far more apparent on the big screen (the television I saw it on was, like, massive).

Why does God love the Israelites? Wow, I really don't know. I honestly don't and I've read the Bible way too many times. It just says God loves the Israelites because he loved their forefathers... but why?

Both the History Channel adaptation and the book itself are collections of incomprehensible stories loosely connected and punctuated with moments of brutal violence.

In the “The Bible” there is even a fantastic scene when an Asian angel unleashes ninja moves on Sodom as he lays waste to its sinful inhabitants. Seriously.

The story of Lot is similar to the meta-narrative itself. Lot decides to move to the city of Sodom. Why? Because, as his wife says, “the future is in the city.” What future? Who cares. That's unimportant.

And the television version of the Bible is also illustrative of another of the Biblical assumptions: holy men are always met by God in the “wilderness.” When we read that in the Bible we just sort of gloss over it. But seeing it in “The Bible” is incredible.

Abraham, sitting in an empty field, hears the wind telling him to murder his son. (You know the story, God provides a ram at the last second... because God is an insecure, capricious tyrant...)

Seeing this and other “revelations” in “The Bible” really makes you wonder, why didn't anyone just say, “wow, that guy Abraham? He's crazy.”

Samesies Moses who we find huddled on a mountain when the Lord speaks to him out of a burning bush. It looked like a bad trip. And while a certain amount of this insanity can be blamed on the worst production values I've seen since The YouTube, just imagine the state of mind the “real Moses” must have been in when he saw the flaming flora.

It's a wonder Aaron didn't just say, “Go home, Moses, you're drunk.”

And “The Bible,” like the Bible, glosses over the real scale of death that is central to, but never entirely obvious in, the narrative.

The opening scene where Noah is talking nonsense with his family? There's nothing but the tiniest hint that millions of people are simultaneously drowning in the flood. That's the real story: God killed everyone besides Noah and his family. Everyone.

Or when Sarah is like, “Abraham, I know you want a child, but I'm barren, so just sleep with Hagar the slave.”

Hagar isn't even given a speaking role. She's literally just there to have a baby. She has no say in the matter. But that was God's plan, so whatever.

And we also get a small taste of that time when God killed all the first born male children in Egypt. I just love the family values.

But the fact that “The Bible” was shown on the History Channel is probably the most amazing part.

Okay, so Ancient Aliens may have downgraded the IQ of the History Channel, but “The Bible” isn't even a historical examination of the biblical narrative. It's just the Bible but live action. With white people.

It neither retells the biblical story with dignity nor debunks the narrative with reality. There's nothing here but embarrassment.

I can't imagine watching “The Bible” and then having to say to someone, “Yeah, that's pretty much what I believe.”

Maybe Islam is onto something by its refusal to allow the Prophet Mohammad to be portrayed. “The Bible” is a disgrace.


  1. Thank you for publishing this. I thought the show was absolutely horrible because it was needlessly graphic and violent, focused on flashy visual effects instead of substance, and had a totally insufficient and incoherent narrative. Glad someone else feels the same!

    1. Also entirely left out all of the negative aspects, only shows the punishment of 'sin' and the good parts. Odd how it doesn't show the parts of the bible condoning rape, murder, and slavery.

    2. The Bible does NOT condone rape, murder, or slavery. Have you read the Bible? In fact, it speaks AGAINST those very things. "Thall shall not murder".

      Now the Bible DOES recount stories where people did those things, but that is NOT the same thing as condoning those actions. That is the equivalent of saying that a movie (showcasing humanity's wickedness) on say the holocaust is condoning the actions of the nazis. Description of events is entirely different from endorsement of actions.

    3. Sean, have you read the OT? God commanded the killing, rape and slavery.

  2. I am white and I was offended to see them cast a white (Portuguese to be exact) Jesus.... And lets not forget his white (Irish) mother...

    FU "History" channel. There is NO evidence in the Bible (the real book) or otherwise that Jesus and other ancient Israelites were white or even looked like the modern day people living there. There is however a bunch of descriptions and historical accounts of Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, etc all being dark skinned and/or what present day people would consider African and/or Black. At least cast some bi-racial people..... I mean come on!

    I guess we should take it easy on the "history" channel. I don't know why I ever expected them to start making shows about actual history now. I am waiting for the 3 episode where it is revealed that the ancient aliens are Jesus' real parents and he gets a job in the Arctic as an Ice Road Trucker, you know, some real history.

  3. This fractured fairy tale of the Bible is an insult to anyone who has actually read the Bible. I mean really, Noah's Ark leaking? Noah has to explain why they're in it after his sons helped him build it for 100 years? Abraham's wife & family looking like scruffy, homeless people with crappy clothes??? Abraham was a very wealthy man with servants & handmaids for Sarah. She was a very beautiful according to the Bible. Sorry, but that actress,just didn't cut it. They wasted my time watching any of it. What a disappointment!! But then, look at who they consulted in the making of it. God help us!

  4. Why did God love the Isrealites? Because the wrote the Bible, of course.

  5. Great, this can be exactly what my wife and I required to learn

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