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The Bible Series on The History Channel
Witnessing Tools
Thursday, April 04, 2013
J.L. Robb

It had more viewers than American Idol.  Did you see it?  What did you think?

“The History Channel’s mini-series, titled ‘The Bible’, became the highest rated cable show of the year when it premiered this month to 13.1 million viewers.  The 10 hour drama has become one of the most popular shows in the US, beating shows like American Idol and Celebrity Apprentice which is unusual for a Christian production.” - theway.uk.com

Interesting: “Unusual for a Christian production.”

Not really.  It’s just a sign of the power of the unbelievers in Hollywood and the press.  I say unbelievers only because they are, and they don’t like to be called atheists.  That’s a fact.  The statement is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings, because I used to be one right there with ya.

Atheism: A is Latin and means without.  Theism means belief in God.  It’s simple to figure out.

In 2004 Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ, depicting the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life.  At that time in history, a significant number of Jews believed Jesus was the Christ who had been predicted to come rescue Israel.  Unfortunately, the Jews who believed were outnumbered by a larger group who chose the envious rabbis’ version.  Jesus was getting all the attention; they weren’t.

Mel produced the movie, but that was not his apparent intention.  He first tried Hollywood producers.  They wouldn’t touch it, no interest by the “people,” was their Mensa-tainted assessment.  It would be a bad investment.

The people of course, would be us.  Mel used his own money and produced the film about the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus, or Y’shua as the Hebrews called him.  Mel spent about $ 30-million for the production of The Passion of the Christ, not much compared with other movies in 2004.  And of course, Hollywood was right again.  Mel only made a profit of $ 581-million smackers.  I think that’s a two-thousand percent return, but don’t quote me. Here’s the math:

Gross sales:                  $611,899,420.00

Cost of Production:   ($  30,000,000.00)

Profit:                           $ 581,899,420.00

Did Hollywood pay attention? Uhhhhhhh…no.

Then there was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973. According to the Jesus Christ Superstar website,

“Norman Jewison directed a $3.6 million film of Jesus Christ Superstar shot entirely on location in Israel with Melvyn Bragg co-writing the screenplay.  The movie was released in 1973 and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Score.”

“Ted Neeley - who had understudied and performed the lead role on Broadway - played the part of Jesus, Carl Anderson played Judas (both were nominated for Golden Globes) and Yvonne Elliman sang the part of Mary again.”

André Previn conducted the orchestra, and the soundtrack won numerous awards.  More than 7,000,000 albums have been sold world-wide.  Was it a “failure” by Hollywood standards?

Don’t think so.  The gross movie sales were $ 13 million with a cost of production of $3 million, about a 400% profit.

Again, like with Mel, Andrew Lloyd Webber had trouble selling his concept.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:

“Nobody was interested in doing Jesus Christ Superstar on stage when we started, so Tim Rice and I did it as a record.”  

Then of course, there were a few other religious-based failures: The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, King of Kings.

Thanks to the remarkable production of the Bible Series, Hollywood is now paying attention.  The series was produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, married and apparently loved by the rich-and-famous in Los Angeles.  The production was great, the acting was great and the message was great.

Did Roma and Mark expound a bit?  I would say.  Until I saw this movie, as much as I’ve studied the Bible, I never knew the beginning was the Flood, but oh well.  Then there was the Sodom (think sodomy) and Gomorrah story, just a little politically correct.  They forgot to mention the final sin that broke the camel’s back, but hey!  They probably know a lot of gay talent, because the movie and arts industries depend on them.  Most gays that I’ve met have been just this side of brilliant, so you don’t really want to upset your designers/creators.  With that said, sodomy is the derivative of the biblical Sodom.

I also never knew that angels bled until I watched the Sodom and Gomorrah story, so they must have DNA.  Interesting.

There’re more, but you know what?  It’s hard to squeeze 6,000 years of biblical history into a 10-hour mini-series.  That’s why they call it mini.  If they could video the whole story, all the details, it would be a mega-series.

My assessment?  This movie series has teased the appetites of many people who know nothing or little of the Bible story, which they now know consists of many smaller stories.  If just a single person turned down their Spike TV addiction, their American Idol addiction, their March Madness addiction and begins to think about the truth of the story, the Bible Series was a success.  Not because they had 13million viewers and are making lots of money.  It will continue to be a success.

I hope everyone who didn’t see the series, will.  It is available on DVD and will probably be on Youtube.com too.

The ending of the Bible Series wasn’t really a “happy ending” in that the early Christians went on to be killed because they believed the Jew from Nazareth really was the prophesied messiah.  All but John of the twelve disciples were murdered by Jews who didn’t buy the story or by Rome.  John made it sort of, though he was confined to a small island named Patmos for life.  That’s where he wrote, as proclaimed to him in a vision from Jesus, about the “end of the system of all things.”

Jesus made predictions about the future lives of the disciples, telling them exactly what to expect.  That’s why they all scattered after he was killed.  They had seen the miracles with their own eyes, but fear was fear.  What made them change their minds?  What suddenly happened that made them willing to go preach the teachings of Jesus to the other Jews who would kill them?  Or to the Romans who would kill them?  Here’s an idea: Jesus was dead, sent to the grave and suddenly he was back, not a ghost but a living being.  You can imagine how that would blow your mind, and apparently it did.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me." - Jesus, Matthew 24:9 NIV        

The persecution goes on, like the Eveready Battery Bunny.  According to USA Today, April 2, 2013, Middle East Christians need our protection.

"Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world," at least according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that Christians face a "particularly wicked program of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing."

April 3, 2013, Pakistan

LAHORE - In a renewed attack on minorities, a violent Muslim mob attacked a Christian locality in Gujranwala on Wednesday, damaging shops, houses and vehicles belonging to the local Christians following a clash between the youths of the two communities last night, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to initial information, a group of Christian boys was snubbed by a local cleric for playing music on their cell phones while passing by a mosque on Tuesday evening.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." - Jesus, Matthew 5:10-12 NIV

There are plenty more examples.  All it takes is a Google search.

Were there inaccuracies in the Bible on History Channel?  All one had to do was check out a couple of Christian sites on Facebook after each showing, and we were quick to point out the flaws.  We seem to always be ready to do that.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” - Jesus, Matthew 7:3 NIV

Hope we can tell our friends and family about the Bible series.  Anyone watching a movie about Jesus is not watching Desperate Housewives promote adultery.

About J.L. Robb

Last week: The Land of the Giants

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