Est. May 2008

12 March, 2013

The Bible – Episode 2

Well, folks, episode 2 of the Downey/Burnett series The Bible was, IMO, worse than the first as far as Scriptural accuracy. Melinda Penner over at Stand to Reason Blog points out the lack of God in the series:
The big picture is missing. The significance of events is left out of the history. And that is what the Bible is really about. I don't really understand the point of making a series about the Bible if the main point of it all is absent.

-snip-

The Bible isn't just a series of events about the nation of Israel. The significance is what God was doing through the nation and individuals. It's about God. And that's what is disappointing to me in this series.
Others (like me) have chosen to point out specific ‘errors’ and ‘mistakes’ within the episodes to show how far the series strays from the source material.

Now, as Melinda said, trying to condense a 66-chapter book into 5, 2-hour segments is a daunting task – of course, some things will be missed. And, because it’s Hollywood, some scenes will end up being tweaked.

That said, here’s how Downey and Burnett ‘tweaked’ – and ultimately erred – in their retelling.


Like the show, I broke my commentary into sections separated by commercial breaks.

The Bible doesn’t mention the Israelite spies having to climb the wall of Jericho to get in, nor does it say anything about having a street-battle before meeting Rahab. If there had been a fight like this, when the king’s men came to her they wouldn’t likely have been so ready to accept her lie that the men had already left the city – more than likely, they would have torn her house apart looking for them.

The spies didn’t threaten Rahab into helping them; Rahab herself made the deal for protection.

Rahab was to hang the scarlet cord out the window, not on a post outside her door

And God never said to spare Rahab – that was the deal between the spies and her

Commercial Break

Though there’s no mention of Samson’s skin color in the Bible, it’s difficult to believe he was black; Michael Gryborski over at Christian Post mentions the same thing. Samson’s parents were of the tribe of Dan, so I (and others, apparently) were expecting either a Middle-eastern-looking gentleman or (like the other actors) a white guy with a British accent. But this is a picky little detail: there are plenty of other problems with the Samson story, which took up a full 25% of the show.

Samson’s wife and father-in-law were burned in their home; no mention is made as to why, which made it look like an arbitrary act by the Philistines. In fact, it was revenge for Samson’s burning of their fields because his father-in-law gave his wife to another man, thinking Samson didn’t want her anymore (Judges 15:1-8)

If there’s a scene in the Bible where Samson frees prisoners, I can’t find it.

Commercial Break

Samson fled to Lehi not because he freed prisoners and killed guards, but because of the burning of the fields (see above and judges 15:-13)

No indication Samson and his mother had any kind of discussion when he was taken.

The jawbone-of-an-ass scene did not happen in a city, nor was Samson chained to what looked suspiciously like a cross – he was bound with ropes which he snapped (Judges 15:14-16)

And Delilah didn’t give Samson a drink after the jawbone incident; God did (Judges 15:17-20)

Commercial Break

The Philistines went to Delilah to convince her to discover Samson’s secret – they did not go and get her (Judges 16:4-5)

Commercial Break

Samson was imprisoned, grinding grain, long enough for his hair to grow back before he was taken to the temple of Dagon(Judges 26:21-22); his hair would have been long and his eyes would not have still been leaking blood at that stage.

The Bible doesn’t indicate that Samson warned the Philistines he was going to destroy them in the temple, there is no indication of a fight, nor did Samson slam against the temple pillars like an enraged bear in a trap – Samson asked the boy who led him to let him rest against the temple pillars, he prayed to God for one last feat of strength, and simply pushed the pillars over.

Once the Samson episode was over, the movie moved to the coronation and kingship of Saul and David. And there were plenty of problems in this part, too.

Here are some of the more (IMO) important ones.

Saul summoned Ahimelech and the priests who assisted David in his flight – he did not go to them (1 Samuel 22:11)

When David confronted Saul with the piece of cloth the latter had cut from the former’s robe, Saul was well away from the cave, not still inside it (1 Samuel 24).

Saul killed himself only after asking his armor-bearer to do it, and only after he was already mortally wounded; his armor-bearer refused to kill the king (1 Samuel 31).

There was no mention of the bonds of friendship between David and Jonathan, which is important to explaining a part of Saul’s madness.

The Bible tells us David’s first encounter of Bathsheba was seeing her bathing – he didn’t know who she was and had to ask someone (2 Samuel 11:2-3); obviously, he didn’t dance with her when the Ark came into Jerusalem, nor did Uriah introduce them.

As others have pointed out, this series seems to be stripping God and faith from the picture, which to me is a grave mistake. Rahab protected the spies because she knew their God was all-powerful; Samson in his final moments turned totally to God for the strength he needed to destroy the Philistines; Saul lost his kingdom – and his mind – because he was disobedient to God; David acquired the kingdom because he trusted in God. All of that is lost (at least so far) in this series.

Which is why Franklin Graham’s comment in his Christian Post interview that ‘"The Bible Series ... will likely cause a viewer to want to open the pages of Scripture to see the realities of Almighty God's plan for the human race[.]"’ may not be precisely right. Based on what I’ve seen so far, if The Bible sends people to Scripture, it’ll be to find all those terrific adventure scenes – and if that’s the case, they’re going to come away surprised at the differences.

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