Earlier this week Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly interviewed “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett, executive producers of “The Bible” TV miniseries which began Sunday night on the History Channel. “Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,” Downey said. “We had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully. I’ve been a believer my whole life, and that was very, very important to us.” (Read more HERE)

I watched the premiere of the miniseries and was disappointed, (but not surprised) by the many inaccuracies found in the miniseries that Downey and Burnett took so seriously that they employed a team of scholars and theologians to help them get it right.

I’m sure Downey and Burnett meant well and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity, but I think they would have been better off to follow the example of Cecil B. DeMille in preparing for his movie, “The Ten Commandments”.

To prepare his studio to film The Ten Commandments DeMille sent a copy of the Bible to every single person on the payroll, with the words, “As I intend to film practically the entire book of Exodus . . . the Bible should never be away from you. Place it on your desk, and when you travel, stick in your briefcase. Make reading it a daily habit.”

The moral life of the production camp was rigorously prim and proper, and DeMille installed a separate tent which served only kosher food to two hundred twenty-four orthodox Russian, Polish, and Palestinian Jews working on the production.

I found it interesting that so far, the Jewish aspect of the miniseries is non-existent. I would have thought that at the very least, they would have included the first Passover Seder in the film like DeMille did in ‘The Ten Commandments’ movie.

Other discrepancies in Sunday’s premiere begin with the story of Abraham and Lot. They portrayed Lot’s capture as if it were a squabble between small tribes when the Bible teaches that it involved battles between the armies of five kings (nations) against another four. (Gen. 14:1-11) And when Abraham heard that his nephew was taken captive, he mobilized 318 trained men (soldiers) who had been born into his household to rescue Lot and his family. (Gen 14: 13-16)

Then there was the film’s depiction of Lot in Sodom. Because of political correctness I understand why they felt they needed to leave out the reason the men of Sodom wanted to break into Lot’s home, but the Bible plainly teaches that the men of Sodom wanted to rape the angels. When Lot refused, they threatened to do even worse to him. The angels then shut the door and smote the men with blindness so that they soon gave up trying to get inside Lot’s house. (Gen. 19:1-11)

There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that even alludes that the angels walked through Sodom like ninjas cutting men down with swords! Is this something that Downey and Burnett learned from the scholars?

Since most Christians get their doctrinal beliefs from movies and greeting cards, movies like this do a great disservice to God’s Word. A good example of this is the story of Lot’s wife. The Bible never states, as many people presume, that Lot’s wife was miraculously and instantly turned into a pillar of salt. It simply says she became a pillar of salt. (Gen. 19:15 – 26) Given the nature of the destruction of Sodom, combined with the circumstances of her own death, it’s quite possible that Lot’s wife did indeed become a pillar of salt due to natural occurrences.

The Hebraic phrase translated as “looked back” means more than simply turning her head around for a glance. The term more likely implies “turning back,” in the sense that Lot’s wife decided to leave her family and was on her way to return to the city. (Compare to Luke 17:28-33 and Luke 9:62)

Assuming that Lot’s wife did turn back to Sodom, it is quite possible that the sulfur and ashes that destroyed the city reached Lot’s wife, causing her death. Lot and his daughters, further ahead, were protected by God because they didn’t “look back.” Over time, Lot’s wife’s remains would have been layered in salt, given both the process of petrifaction that happens to remains of sulfur and the high levels of salt and sediment in the Dead Sea region.

From the comments I’ve read praising “The Bible” miniseries, many might think that I’m being too legalistic and only writing this to criticize the filmmakers.

I understand that producers make films in order to make money. I also understand that in order to make a film more profitable they sometimes need to take artistic liberties to make the film more interesting.

But the purpose of this article is not to criticize Downey and Burnett or any other filmmaker who produces Bible based movies. The purpose of this article is to encourage you not to base your religious beliefs on some miniseries or movie you watched or someone’s book you read– but only on the Word of God.

 “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Ephesians 4:14)

  1. Gordon Kruse says:

      I liked the part where Sarah ran up the mountain to save Isaac from Abraham’s sacrifice (normally a 3 day trip) at 113 years of age in about 10 minutes.  🙂

    • I thank God for believers like you who actually read God’s Holy Scriptures and don’t just rely on “other voices”. Most people also assume that Isaac was a small child, but according to hints found in Scripture Isaac was most likely in his late 20s or early 30s. It shows that Isaac was not the helpless victim that most Christians portray him as, but an active participant with faith in God that was equal to his father, Abraham.

  2. terriergal says:

    You’re right, this has been a horrible depiction. I am mystified at how many Christian leaders simply think that because it’s labeled “the Bible” it’s a good thing. It’s not. So often each story has become about obedience/reward disobedience/curse. It’s so much more than that. We now know that it is about Christ from beginning to end. As a viewer of an overview, they could easily give us foreshadowings of Christ, but whenever they get the chance they botch it. I was pretty sure what I saw slaughtered at passover was a female adult sheep, slaughtered in the street and the blood was communally spread on everyone’s door. No meal, nothing, and all this after Moses said “we must do exactly as God has commanded.” I guess those “EXACT” instructions then weren’t important enough to include.

    The bad guys chewing up the scenery is also extremely tedious. The dramatic music goes ON AND ON like a bad video game loop. There’s no flow. The acting is bad. The writing is soap opera bad. The reasoning behind the additions and deletions are mystifying to me.

    Sure, we can say that this might cause people to go to the Bible more to check out the facts. And that’d be a good thing, but that is far from saying this series is good at all in itself. They wouldn’t likely even GO to check out the facts if there weren’t people complaining rightly about the awful inaccuracies!

    And sorry, I would never ever finance/produce a movie and then cast myself in one of the starring roles, especially one that puts yourself in the position of a venerated person. (I am not Catholic, so I don’t venerate Mary and I have MAJOR problems with Catholic doctrine and practice… but knowing that they do venerate mary, I think that’s awfully presumptuous of the ‘sweet’ Roma Downey.)

  3. terriergal says:

    And by the way when you take note of the complete mess of a consultant panel, it’s no surprise that it’s turned out so horribly.

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