I Read the Book

The word is real.  I do not know etymologically if it is a combined form of the words history and authenticity, but that in fact is what it means.  Historicity is a term that refers to the historical authenticity of a subject.  If that subject is the Bible, then biblical historicity addresses the historical authenticity of the Scriptures.

During the five Sundays in March the History Channel is presenting the five-part miniseries The Bible in two hour segments from 8 to 10 pm.  The last part will be telecast on Easter Sunday.  Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey are believers who produced the docudrama The Bible to bring its message to the viewing public.

Its presentation on the History Channel is intriguing.  It seems to imply the Bible has historical significance and it understandably does.  The History Channel would not be broadcasting it, and Mark and Roma would not have produced it if it didn’t.  But the nature of that significance depends on one’s perspective.  So, in broadcasting The Bible is it the intent to portray the Bible in history, or the history in the Bible?

I have not interviewed anyone involved with the production or airing of The Bible.  But I think it is safe to say the History Channel is showing it because of the Bible’s undeniable place and influence in human history, and Mark and Roma produced it to depict the history that is recorded in the Bible.  But let us also grasp the unmistakable truth that the Bible commands its place in history, because of the history it contains.

Unlike other religions founded upon myths and philosophy, the Judeo-Christian faith is predicated on the historical record of God’s interaction with mankind.  While skeptics may doubt the supernatural elements in the Bible, they cannot claim the people and places spoken of in the Scriptures did not exist.  Who would dare say Egypt or Babylonia were fabled lands, or the Persian Empire was a myth, or Greece and Rome never existed?  Even people and places that are historically obscure and unknown except for their mention in the Bible have their existence corroborated by every turn of the archaeologist’s spade.

The Bible unashamedly declares its place in human history.  The God of the Bible is not a disinterested, transcendent observer as deists claim, but is the Creator who is intimately concerned with and involved in the affairs of mankind.  Those who do not see God’s handiwork in history are those who have not given thoughtful consideration to the subject, or have chosen to ignore it.

Any movie script based on a book will face its difficulties in adapting a written work to film.    It is hard to capture the heart and mind of an author, and how his work connects with the imagination of his readership.  The adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was masterfully done in my opinion, but I was not as impressed with the transformation to film of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

In this respect The Bible is no different.  And that difficulty is exponentially increased when the Author is God with such a widespread readership.  I watched the first part of The Bible and I was disappointed.  I do believe they could have done a better in the area of special effects, but that was not my chief complaint.  In the pursuit of dramatic effect I think they cut too many doctrinal corners, and there were unnecessary inaccuracies.

As a result I lost interest in the series and did not watch part two this past Sunday.  But I am already hearing about more inaccuracies and that concerns me.  So where does that leave us?

If this miniseries spurs dialogue about the Bible, and causes people to read the Bible, and inspires people to study the Bible, it has served a very good purpose.  But if it gives people the impression that the Bible can be read or interpreted as they please, or the Bible is inaccurate, and an untrustworthy account of history, that would be a concern.

When you want to know the truth about anything it is always best to get information from the source.  Firsthand information is always better than secondhand information, and whatever you see on TV or at the movies about the Bible is secondhand information.  Having lost interest in The Bible because of inaccuracies will probably preclude me watching the remaining episodes.  But that’s okay; I read the book.

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