Mark Burnett’s Bible TV Series: Epic Adventure

Today’s post was written by Rusty Wright.
———

Think of it as Survivor: Earth

As reality TV host Jeff Probst might say (cue theme music; roll panoramic video), “This … is the planet Earth. A spectacular paradise that can become a perilous jungle. Two people – a man and a woman – are about to begin the adventure of the ages.”

“Their progeny will encompass vastly different walks of life, from kings to fishermen, saints to scoundrels. They’ll display nobility and treachery, altruism and secret alliances. But they’ll have one thing in common. They’ll all participate in an epic struggle between good and evil.”

“What will happen when explosive personalities collide? And in the end, who will find redemption and survive the ultimate tribal council?”

Dramatic Miniseries

That’s the drama the upcoming ten-hour miniseries, The Bible, seeks to portray when it airs on History Channel every Sunday evening this March.

Prolific television producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Voice,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Shark Tank”) and his wife, actress/producer Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”), spent two years creating what they hope will become a legacy. They consider this “by far the most important project we’ve ever undertaken” and sought to paint “the grand narrative of God’s love for all of us,” from Genesis to Revelation.

Curiosity and Inspiration

“The Bible is a sacred text that continues to challenge and inspire,” notes Burnett. “We … are deeply humbled to be given this once in a generation opportunity to breathe new visual life into the Bible’s profound stories. The Bible gives meaning and purpose to billions of people around the world, and sparks the curiosity of millions more.”

Spoiler alert: Eve eats the fruit (as does Adam); Noah, family, and animals endure the Ark; God parts the Red Sea for Moses and company; Delilah cuts Samson’s hair; David slays Goliath; Daniel survives the lions’ den; Jesus does good, is executed, but rises from the dead.

“Don’t make it lame”

But perhaps you already knew those stories. Either way, there’s plenty of adventure and drama in this series. At a recent Washington, DC, dinner, Burnett described his kids’ advice about the impending production: “Don’t make it lame.” He didn’t.

This quality portrayal has loads of action and state-of-the-art special effects to grab channel surfers’ attention. I’m no action-flick aficionado, but scenes like Ninja angels slicing their way through Sodom, the Red Sea crossing, and Goliath’s slaying made my spine tingle. Abraham’s sacrifice of his son, Isaac, had me right there, wanting divine intervention to stop that knife from hitting its target.

Faith and Trust

The depictions were exciting, gripping, genuine. I could identify with the characters’ human struggles, emotions and faith lessons, especially the oft-repeated “Trust in God.” Fallible people like Abraham, Moses, and Peter seek to discover what God wants of them, and then trust him to provide and protect.

It’s chock full of timeless truths, and true to Jesus’ teachings. As he said, “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Producers sought to be faithful to the spirit of the book in adapting selected Bible stories for the screen. They take typical movie-making liberties – combining events and condensing timelines – to represent the gist of the book in limited hours. Compressed narrative and dialogue skip some details and occasionally blur nuances. But, sit back, relax, and take in the big picture: God loves us; he is faithful; he is merciful.

The overall presentation (of the six hours available for advance press screening) gets an “A” from me. By all means, see the miniseries. Read the original, too. It is, after all, a very Good Book.

History Channel – Sunday (March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31)
History.ca (Canada)
www.BibleSeries.tv
———
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

Hebrews 4:12 Stay Active

At this time of year, many people, like me, find it hard to stay active. If you’re not particularly fond of the winter weather, you might prefer to stay indoors. Others, who love winter sports, enjoy getting out in the snow to ski, snowshoe or make snow angels. Personally, I’m a little bit afraid of falling. Since I was hurt in a car accident, my balance isn’t as good as it used to be, and because I live near one of the great lakes, we often have blustery and icy conditions. I find it much more difficult to get motivated to go out for a walk on days like that than I do in the summertime. But physical exercise is only one of the ways that we need to stay active.

Last week, we looked at Hebrews 4:12, and I told you that the Bible is “living and active” because it is the representation of the power of God. God still works through the words that He spoke to Bible authors centuries ago, but He also works through us. He has given us the opportunity to share his love and grace by living it for others and by sharing Him and His Word. That is what Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are doing through their dramatic production of The Bible, a series that will be shown on the History Channel for five Sundays starting on March 3, 2013. As I mentioned last week, you can find out more about The Bible Series at the official website, their Facebook page or on Twitter. But I also thought you might like to see a preview, so I have included an extended trailer for you below. After that is part of an interview that Roma and Mark did on 100 Huntley Street. (You can see any interview done on that show at 100huntley.com.)

Here is one way you can stay active: share the news about The Bible television series with friends who might feel hesitant or uncomfortable about reading the Bible, and ask them to watch it instead.

Hebrews 4:12 The Bible

The reason I started this blog just over two years ago, was to share what I learned through studying the Bible, and to encourage you to study with me. I know that there are some of you (and I have done it too) who start a reading plan in January with the intent to read through the Bible in one year. Genesis and Exodus are interesting, filled with stories of drama and suspense, but once you get to Leviticus, does your mind start to wander? Do you start to drift off? When you read through Numbers are you actually planning your summer vacation? How many of you have made it to Revelation? I know that before I changed my strategy two years ago, I had read Genesis more often than any other book. But when I started studying–not just reading–one or two verses at a time, without neglecting the larger context of course, I found myself more engaged and more interested.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s word is “living and active”. The New Living Translation says “alive and powerful”. Do you believe that? Or do you think that it is just a historical religious book that people keep printing and re-translating because there are still people who want to buy it? And why do they want to buy it? Why do you want to read it enough to start a reading plan every year? I believe that the same thing that draws many of us to The Bible, repels many as well. It is a representation of the power of God. It is God extending Himself to us through His written word.

The word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) God has provided it for us, to teach us, to correct us and to prepare us for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17) It is there for us to be able to know God’s heart, and to determine if ours are right with His. The word of God is available to us for our benefit, so that we can know God, so that through faith in Him and obedience to Him we can be recipients of His grace, love, peace and mercy. What a gift!

———
Some of you prefer watching the movie to reading the book. Here is your chance! Though I recommend it as a supplement rather than a substitution, The Bible is coming to The History Channel as a mini-series beginning on Sunday, March 3, 2013 and continuing each Sunday evening until Easter Sunday. You can be sure that this will be a great production because it is being produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, The Voice…) and Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel). Accuracy has been insured by Bible scholars, including Dr. Craig Evans of Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Find out more about The Bible Series at the official website, their Facebook page or on Twitter.