The History Channel just produced one of the most successful series dealing with the Bible in a few decades. I heard so much good about it that I decided to purchase the entire series on iTunes, having never seen the series at all. I’ve had occasion to watch the first 2 episodes and wanted to share my thoughts, as well as gather your thoughts.
I have been pretty impressed with the series so far. The producers endeavor to capture the spirit of the Bible stories faithfully, and seem to follow the biblical record closely, though they don’t tell all of the stories. Episode 1 deals with Abraham. I was surprised because I had expected it to start with Adam and Eve. In the opening scene, we see Noah aboard his ark, telling about the creation of the earth, with glancing references to Adam being formed out of the dust of the earth (literally—it’s some pretty cool special effects), and quickly move on to the main story of Abraham.
All of my children are under 10, and I thought my oldest boy would enjoy the scene where Abraham rescues Lot. There was a lot of sword fighting (they seemed to be ninjas), and I thought he would enjoy it (being a big Power Rangers fan). The funny thing was he couldn’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. There were no uniforms. So I found myself narrating through to let him know who the good guys were.
I thought the angelic visitors were portrayed well, from a historical point of view. These messengers were dressed differently, but were wearing clothes unlike Abraham (who looked like a desert dweller.) The angels didn’t glow, didn’t have wings, but looked like men that were from outside of the area. They promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. Then I found myself having to explain the uncomfortable subject of polygamy to my daughter. She didn’t seem to understand it very well, and thought that a man with 2 wives was kind of weird. (I agree that it is.) There’s a scene where Abraham comes out of Hagar’s tent, adjusting himself. The camera then turns toward Hagar, and you can see her bare back. There’s no nudity, but it is quite suggestive. However, I think the sexual aspect was a bit over my kids heads.
Once Sarah finally bares a child, she kicks out Hagar and Ishmael into the desert. It’s a terribly said scene to me, and I found it difficult to explain to my daughter. Even harder to explain was the attempted sacrifice of Isaac. I have previously discussed how I believe God didn’t command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. I found it just extremely hard to tell the traditional narrative to my children, and it was hard for them to see Isaac, a boy about their age, nearly being killed by his father.
Episode 2 moves on to the story of Moses. The opening scene shows a young, bald Moses fighting his brother with swords. Moses cuts his brother on the cheek, and his brother yells that Moses “is not one of us.” At this point, Moses learns he was born a Hebrew. (The brother later becomes Pharaoh.) The fight scene is a fun and interesting embellishment to the biblical story, and adds to the later drama of why Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Israelites go.
Moses goes among the Hebrew slaves, and gets upset when an Egyptian cruelly whips an Israeli slave; Moses kills the Egyptian, and anther Israelite slave helps Moses bury the body. Once again, my daughter didn’t understand the whole slavery aspect, or why Moses killed the Egyptian. The burning bush scene is pretty cool, but when the plagues came to the Egyptians, my daughter couldn’t understand why God would kill all the children. It was about this point that I learned that the series was rated TV-14. (I was surprised that the film excluded all references to the golden calf.)
The next episode is supposed to deal with Joshua and the city of Jericho. I’m not sure if I should let my kids see it. My son seems a bit bored (the violence is more real than Power Rangers, I guess), but my daughter really likes it. Overall, I think the series does a good job of capturing the essence of the Bible, and it’s a pretty good series for adults, but I’m not sure I should let my kids watch it. What do you think? Is the Bible ok for kids?