Bringing millions back to the Bible

By Steve Boggs, publisher of The Saline Courier

Did you watch the The Bible on the History Channel last Sunday night? If you did, you’re not alone. The premier episodes of the 10-part series draw large ratings for the cable outlet, and they will only get bigger as the series progresses.
The Bible will air each week through the month of March, culminating on Easter Sunday March 31. Five of the episodes cover the Old Testament and five cover the New Testament. It is billed as a Genesis-to-Revelation depiction of the Bible. Episodes 1 and 2 covered the creation, the flood, Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Israel’s time in Egypt. When we resume this weekend, Joshua’s army is outside of Jericho.
The first two episodes drew 13.1 million viewers, making it the History Channel’s second-best rated show in history behind last year’s supremely addictive Hatfields & McCoys. The Bible uses live action and computer generated imagery to tell the familiar stories of the Good Book. It is the brainchild of Mark Burnett (the guy who brought us Survivor) and his wife, Roma Downey (Touched By An Angel).
They were inspired by to take on the project after watching The Ten Commandments for the first time in many years a while back. While The Ten Commandments is an annual Easter-season tradition for most of us, I must say The Bible does a great job of mixing new technology while staying true to its namesake. In fact, there are dozens of academic and religious scholars who pored over every page of script before the series was shot to test for accuracy.
It’s hard to imagine the level of scrutiny a project like has, or will, endure. There’s a reason we have 70-plus churches in Saline County alone … we all see and treat The Bible just a little bit differently than the other guy. Burnett and Downey are sure to be criticized for their finished product, but so far, so good in my book. It’s visually appealing, and I’d bet the broadcast has even dusted off a few family Bibles so people can follow along (never anything wrong with that).
Mel Gibson was roundly criticized for his portrayal of the Jews in The Passion of the Christ. The 2004 feature film grossed $370 million worldwide, and is the highest grossing religious film in history. But what it is known for most is how the Jewish people were portrayed during the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life on earth. Mel didn’t help matters with his incoherent outbursts later on. He’s pretty much an outcast in Hollywood these days, but there’s no denying how powerful Passion of the Christ was to millions of people around the world.
Good storytelling starts with good stories.
If you haven’t had the chance to catch Episodes 1 and 2 (actually shown as one two-hour episode), it’s on Thursday night and again Sunday prior to the premier of the new episode.