Skip to comments.Hollywood Christian Couple Brings “The Bible” to TV
Posted on 03/03/2013 11:17:34 AM PST by CHRISTIAN DIARIST
My wife and I enjoyed a special blessing yesterday. We sat in the front row at Saddleback Church in SoCal where Pastor Rick Warren played host to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, husband and wife producers of the new ten-part miniseries, The Bible, which premiers tonight on the History Channel.
Mark has brought such well-known reality shows to television as Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice, The Job and Shark Tank. Roma is best known for her role as Monica, on the popular television series Touched by an Angel.
Many, I imagine, had an inkling that Roma might be a Christian. After all, she played an angel lovingly and joyfully so for the better part of a decade. But hardly anyone suspected Mark of being a Christ follower. I know I didnt.
Mark and Roma told the Saddleback faithful yesterday that they believe they were called by the Lord to bring The Bible to the small screen. To shine a light in dark places, said Mark. To share the Good News of Jesus Christ, said Roma.
Pastor Rick is convinced that the miniseries, two parts of which will air every Sunday between now and Easter, will prove as epic as Roots, the eight-part miniseries that aired in 1977, that won nine Emmy Awards and remains today the third-highest rated television program in U.S. history.
The Bible is, arguably, the most ambitious cinematic adoption of the Good Book in Hollywood history.
More so than The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMilles 1956 retelling of the book of Exodus, in which the estimable Charlton Heston starred as Moses (and also happened to provide the voice of the Burning Bush).
More than Ben Hur, the 1959 epic directed by William Wyler and also starring Charlton Heston, which won a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture (an achievement unmatched until Titanic in 2007).
More than King of Kings, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus of Nazareth and The Passion of the Christ, all of which painted, in their own way, powerful cinematic portraits of the Messiah.
Thats because Mark and Romas labor of love does not cover a single period of Bible history, but brings to the small screen the stories of both the Old Testament and New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation.
The husband and wife producers do not retell all 66 books of the Bible. (Im sure they would lose much of their audience if they devoted, say, an hour to the retelling on the book of Numbers).
Instead, their narrative was driven by the stories of the Bibles major figures, showing how the arc of Biblical history ultimately led to the arrival of Christ the Lord, whose life, death and resurrection gave meaning to everything that came before Him and everything that has followed.
Mark and Roma caution that their miniseries is not a documentary. It takes some artistic license. For instance, it refers to Simon Peter simply as Peter. And to Saul of Tarsus as Paul, before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Those minor details in no way detract from The Bible. In fact, it probably makes the ten-parter more accessible to those who do as yet count themselves as Christians, who are not intimately familiar with Scripture.
Among the many stories Mark and Roma shared yesterday about the making of The Bible, the one that filled me with the Spirit concerned their filming of a scene involving the actors playing Jesus and Nicodemus. It occurred on a still night in the Morocco desert, without a breath of wind.
Jesus, played by actor Diego Morgado, explains to Nicodemus, played by actor Simon Kunz, that he must be born again. By that, says Jesus, He is not speaking of physical rebirth, but spiritual. And he likens the Holy Spirit to the wind. It blows where it pleases. No one knows where it comes from or where it is going.
At that very moment in the filming, a sustained wind blue through the set, as if on cue. Mark and Roma felt it was supernatural.
Roma said that it brought to mind some of the occurrences that took place during the nine seasons she appeared on Touched by an Angel. She and her fellow cast members used to say Coincidences are Gods way of staying anonymous.
Well, I think it no coincidence that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Hollywoods leading Christian couple, have brought The Bible to television. I believe God chose them for this Kingdom building work for such a time as this.
I did not know that Mark Burnett might be a Christian.
That’s good to know.
". . . more accessible to those who do as yet count themselves as Christians, who are not intimately familiar with Scripture."
Let's see a show of hands for how many people expect at least one full episode to focus on, "judge not" and another full episode on how Jesus was a community organizer?
“It takes some artistic license.”
Yes, I have read that they have the character playing Jesus saying he wants to change the world.
SO- I am not going to watch. As long as people understand that this is entertainment and NOT the word of God, then it is really no different than American Idol. The TV show isn’t going to present the gospel to anyone.
“SO- I am not going to watch. As long as people understand that this is entertainment and NOT the word of God...”
Little House on the Prarie; The Walton’s; Touched by an Angel - none were “The Word of God” - but they portrayed eternal Chrsitian values in a good light - not mockigly.
Any time we can introduce the unchurched to the Word of God (as long as it’s not heretical or blasphemous) - it is a good thing.
Is it a serious Bible study? No - that is for those of us who have moved on past the “milk” and onto solid foods. Some of them may be there someday too.
We should be praying for this series - its producers - and for the hearts of those that may tune in - that the unchurched being reached in this way may come to know Jesus as their personal Savior also.
I have set TIVO to record the series.
Andrew Lloyd Webbers Jesus Christ Superstar certainly deviated from the Gospels (the Scriptures do not record the apostles inquiring of the Lord, Whats the buzz? Tell us whats happening). Yet, the musical introduced many young people who are today mature Bible-reading Christ followers.
I was hopeful of this at first, but soon realized it is just entertainment to make modern people feel good about themselves.
I’m not sure about that. The Sodom and Gomorrah scene, with armor-clad, sword-wielding angels bringing down the wrath of God upon the Sodomites, certainly isn’t to make the gay community - which Hollywood loves - feel good about itself.
Since the majority of Un-Churched are the YOUTH of today and they are hooked on Computers and Television..PRAISE GOD that Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are bringing this BIBLE series to the TV screen..
Many people were transformed by the Passion of the Christ movie and I believe this might have the same impact....
I hope everyone will watch, and I encourage everyone to watch...
We have just set to record. Thanks for the reminder.
Despite Rick Warren’s endorsement, I plan to watch anyway.
EWTN World Over of the past week, Thursday Feb 28, Raymond Arroyo interviewed both of them. Their segment begins about 40-some minutes in to the hour show. Some interesting info.
- They were only about 6 weeks from beginning to film and they still had not cast the actor for Jesus. And they started to pray for that and in less than a week - a Portuguese actor.
- She is from Derry, NI (like 2-of-the ThePriests, the UK city of culture of 2013 - they had a big concert bash there last month with just Derry, or Derry-like performers.
- They wanted a drama that would engage with people. unquote
- Card. Wuerl was advisor for them.
They showed a clip from it.
(Im sure they would lose much of their audience if they devoted, say, an hour to the retelling on the book of Numbers).
Really? Some pretty intense stuff happens in Numbers.
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near
Yes, Numbers has its moments (precious few). But, in the main, it goes like:
3 On the east, toward the sunrise, the divisions of the camp of Judah are to encamp under their standard. The leader of the people of Judah is Nahshon son of Amminadab. 4 His division numbers 74,600.
5 The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar. 6 His division numbers 54,400.
7 The tribe of Zebulun will be next. The leader of the people of Zebulun is Eliab son of Helon. 8 His division numbers 57,400.
And so on.
I believe Joel Osteen was a consultant.
Is that supposed to make us feel better about the show?
Your experience with people who loved JCS is the exact opposite of what mine has been.
I do hope your experience in that regard is typical and mine has been atypical. JCS could have been a lot worse, though, especially if Webber had been advised by and in agreement with the sort of Bible scholars Burnett is close personal friends with. Given that Brokeback Church is also on the list of places Burnett is drumming his wares in advance I'll be very surprised if this isn't clearly tailored at a market segment as Burnett perceives it rather than at presenting the Truth. What he thinks that market segment mostly agrees with will be what he presents. After all, there are plenty of companies that see the Christian book business, the Christian Rock business, and the Christian products business, as profit centers and don't care what the product contains as long as it sells well.
Burnett strikes me as exactly the same sort of person I met when I knew a good many people in the publishing business years ago. One publisher I know a lot about quietly purchased 75% control of a "Christian" publisher to market into their existing accounts, the burgeoning Jesus Freak movement, and the large crop of new Christian bookstores then popping up. They sold the imprint for a very handsome profit three years later with no one the wiser. They sold because so many of the Christian bookstores were operating on a shoestring that the publisher figured it was a market that wouldn't turn a decent profit for at least another decade. They were absolutely right, too.
Several big publishers lost money in that market that they never recovered from that market, along with about a dozen small publishers going bankrupt with nothing but their somewhat recognizable name to sell for peanuts after investing millions. It's sad, but the fact of the matter is most prominent "Christian" authors I met were far more intrested in maxamizing the money they made than they were in maxamizing the number of people who heard His Word. Christianty was and is their vehicle, not their first love which is why most of the best known authors bought out small publishers or started their own except when they got a piece of a company as part of their upfront deal.
The most sincere folks who never became really big names were just the opposite and I'm glad that over time some of them have been recognized and can make a decent living these days. It's been my experience that most of the really sincere authors got financially mugged and beaten far worse by the big name "Christian" authors who owned an imprint than they ever did by regular publishers who just wanted a few Christian titles on their list every year.
How people in that business deal with one another may have changed dramatically since the mid-eighties, and then again, it may have just become a more attractive profit center. Sales for the business were initially compared to the total dollar volume of sales in the then prosperous Catholic bookstores and quickly doubled that figure, doubled it again, then tripled that total. Right away it was clear that with many non-profit publishers run by religious, Theology or other religious books that have been in print for hundreds of years, new perspectives on unchanging doctrine, school uniforms, Rosaries, and inexpensive Holy cards or medals of Saints as their bread and butter, sales in traditional Catholic bookstores were a poor yardstick.
Now, there was a major effort made to get sales in Catholic bookstores pumped up, but since change and controversy are what sells and doctrine wasn't really changing, what was a publisher to do? Why, pimp controversy wherever and however they could of course. B Dalton's were absolute masters of generating controversy. They could get a protest against a particular author coming to a book signing started before any such signing was ever scheduled. Someone would finally call the publisher, the publisher would instinctively limit their comments to, "we have no such event planned". Free speech crap would start, local news would chatter, and sales would take off in that area. I've never knew whether they figured that approach out at their sometimes wise and oft frozen headquarters, or if managers shared the tactic among themselves.
Those who wanted to turn the Catholic Church into an Episcopal church in all but name had far more access to publishers than any faithful Catholic ever did. Controversy and change sell, Catholic doctrine didn't change, so, they pimped and published whatever was contraversial enough to make Mike Douglas, Donahue, or even Tomorrow. The rate of change in what everyone in the the new Evangelical market was talking about and wanted was driven early on by the 700 club, later by the PTL club. It's repeat sales to people who keep pace with some "authority" other than their church that make for the best rates of sales for publishers, not selling the unchanging Truth. "Christian" Rock Concerts, "Christian" music sales, Samson or Noah playsets, 28 flavors of the Bible in dozens of cool bindings, the new Bible translation someone rants about, and sooner or later, something like 'Precious Moments' Christ and the Apostles figure Collection in a special, limited edition, 'Boat On Stormy Seas Base', that's where the real money is and the Home Shopping Network proved that Jesus sells almost as well as Elvis.
You see, I have close up, personal, experience with the Bible and Christianity being marketed by people who would just as soon be selling Stingers to Al Qaeda if the rate of return was as good as selling to the "Christian market". I recognize the drill when I see it. My opinion is that those who pump and pimp Christianity are far more interested in being as financially wise as serpents than they are in being as harmless as doves with regard to the Truth of Scripture. For that reason I'm extremely suspicious of any heavily pimped new entry into that "market" by anyone with a track record of not caring what they sell as long as it makes them the right profit.
If this series makes good money, I do think several other things will follow. None of them, however, are anything like JCS leading large numbers of "Jesus Freaks" to read the Scripture while they smoke dope rather than watching 'Fritz the Cat' while they smoke dope.
We shall see in a year when profits from this series are clear and I sincerely pray I'm completely wrong in this instance.
I am just watching it to see how it is KNOWING that their religious experts are far from it. The first hour was okay to watch.
:) These things I know:
Jesus doesn’t need TV, or Hollywood to get his message out. We NEED Him.
The truth is that Jesus didn’t come to change the world. The world is a temporary place where our faith gets refined. Jesus came to call the lost to Him, so we could be transformed and perfected for our Father’s house. All are invited, few will be received. Repent now- and turn toward God, and be saved. THAT is the only way- no matter WHAT Joel Olstein is selling that says otherwise. The story of Lot’s wife is KEEP YOUR EYES PROTECTED and OBEY.
Anything Rick Warren says is good for me ,is bad for me, he is a fool.
"Anything Rick Warren says is good for me ,is bad for me, he is a fool."
Good rule of thumb.
“I hope The Bible is a rating success, otherwise Hollywood studios will have a ready excuse not to greenlight future Bible-based projects.”
It finished second in cable ratings on Sunday. The bad news is that first was Walking Dead.