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With Ninja angels in ancient Sodom, the highly publicized TV miniseries “The Bible,” which made its national debut Sunday night on the History Channel, does not always stick to Scripture, despite being produced by two famous Christians and having numerous biblical experts as well as Texas megapastor Joel Osteen advising on the project.
The program was brought to life by Roma Downey, former star of “Touched by an Angel,” and her husband, Mark Burnett, the renowned Hollywood producer of shows such as “The Voice,” “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”
“Bringing the Bible to the screen came with a huge responsibility and one we took very seriously,” Downey said on “The O’Reilly Factor” last Thursday. “We had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully.”
“I’ve been a believer my whole life, and that was very, very important to us,” she added.
But when the program debuted, it was obvious there were glaring additions made to the TV show that are never mentioned in the Bible.
With the first episode focusing on the events in Genesis and Exodus, the first major non-biblical entry was the inclusion of an angel turning into a Ninja-style warrior wielding two swords and embarking on an expertly choreographed, slow-motion stabbing spree to slay the wicked men of Sodom, as can be seen in the following video clip:
According to the Old Testament, angels merely struck the citizens of Sodom with blindness before God firebombed the entire city. The TV series did include those elements as well. The show, however, did not mention the rampant homosexuality in Sodom, or that the city's men actually sought to have sex with the angels. (Genesis 19:5)
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Perhaps alluding to scenes like the the Ninja angels, Downey had told O'Reilly, "Something else that we wanted to do was to make [the series] really, really cool. You know, we have teenagers at home and [it's] hard to get them to read anything, and one of the goals here was to get this generation interested and excited about Scripture, and I think we've been able to achieve that."
Another deviation from the Bible depicts the patriarch Abraham arguing with God over the demand to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
"Have I not shown you enough faith?" he asks the Almighty in the program.
The Bible never hints that Abraham questioned the command to sacrifice Isaac. But the TV program does correctly show God halting Abraham from going through with the execution of his son.
A common mistake in faith-related movies is continued in "The Bible," as the Ten Commandments were shown to be blank on the back side of the tablets, when Scripture says "They were inscribed on both sides, front and back." (Exodus 32:15)
According to the trailer for the series, a future episode about the New Testament depicts three wise men presenting their gifts to baby Jesus the night the Savior was born and put in a manger in Bethlehem.
But the Gospels of Luke and Matthew indicate no wise men were in attendance the night He was born. Only shepherds were present, having been invited by angels to see the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
The famous wise men – the Bible never specifies their precise number – arrived later, possibly up to two years later, to present their gifts to Jesus when He was a young child in a house, not a babe in a manger. (Matthew 2:11)
There are instances where the producers buck tradition, and actually stay true to the Bible.
For instance, Adam and Eve are shown eating a fruit which is not an apple in the garden of Eden. The Bible identifies the fruit as coming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, yet countless other films, TV shows, cartoons, songs and artwork refer to the first man and woman falling from grace by chomping into an apple.
The start of the miniseries included a brief, on-screen notation, stating: "This program is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world. It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book."
Mike Martin of Sonoma, Calif., was not thrilled with the program, telling WND: "I'd say the TV show, 'The Bible,' is not only unbiblical, but totally disappointing, and even more so because of the professed 'deep Christianity' of the producers. My family watched the entire first episode, and even the kids said 'they sure left a lot out.' From the way things jump around it's almost as if this is a MTV video production or this slick new advertising, and the producers did NOT have the conviction of their beliefs and just kissed the behind of political correctness. We sure won't be wasting any more family time on this load of slop."
The Houston Chronicle reported that among the many American pastors who advised Downey and Burnett for "The Bible," two of the biggest names were Joel and Victoria Osteen of Lakewood, Texas, who even traveled personally to Morocco where the 10-hour series was shot.
But some TV critics are not giving high praise to the final product.
Allison Keene of the Hollywood Reporter says, "'The Bible' never seems to figure out how to present itself. It spends a lot of time in the New Testament (at least, in the Gospels), which is already very well-worn territory on TV and in film. Sometimes it stays true to Scripture, but then does things like adds angels with ninja skills to spice things up. That's one thing the Bible itself really doesn't need – it's a complex and lyrical work full of prophesies and call-backs and a sense of being one, organic, intertwined story. Unfortunately, 'The Bible' is fractious and overwrought."
Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald held little back in his criticism, noting, "With the pace of a music video, the characterizations of a comic book and the political-correctness quotient of a Berkeley vegetarian commune – laughably, the destruction of Sodom is depicted without the faintest hint of the sexual peccadillo that takes its name from the city – this production makes Cecil B. DeMille look like a sober theologian."
DeMille was the famed director behind two cinematic versions of "The Ten Commandments" in the 20th century.
When Downey and Burnett were being interviewed by Bill O'Reilly of the Fox News Channel on Thursday, O'Reilly told Burnett, "Look, a lot of the Bible, Mr. Burnett, is allegorical, and we know that in creationism and things like that."
O'Reilly also claimed, "There are some contradictions among Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."
He defended his remarks the following evening after getting email objecting to his assertions: