… Netflix no longer categorizes Noah as a “based on real life” movie. (The company had not yet responded to emails at publication time; when and if they do, this information will be updated with their response).
Does this mean, then, that Netflix has decided that Bible-based movies are not reality, though? Far from it. Under Netflix’s “Dramas Based On Real Life” category, we find other Bible-based and Christianity-centered movies, including Son Of God and The Book Of Esther.
Numerous others are not categorized based on reality or lack thereof, but placed in the “faith and spirituality” category. This includes the Bible miniseries, Apostle Peter and The Last Supper (which is, incidentally, also listed as a ‘biographical drama’), Mysteries of the Bible, and The Passion Of The Christ — along with dozens of others.
I took a look at another of the ‘Jesus’ film genre and in a nutshell, this particular production is both better than most and as bad as many. Allow me to explain:
First, there are egregious blunders. At one point the presenter states that Luke’s gospel contains the story of the wise men and the star pointing the way to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem. That ridiculous mis-statement, innocent a mistake as it may have been, made me cringe. It bothers me tremendously when the little yet important facts are wrongly stated. Indeed, when people say things like that it’s nearly unbearable.
Second, there must be a dearth of biblical scholars in Australia because the only one he found down there tends to be extremely skeptical of anything the Gospels say. Ok, skepticism is fine. But at least have someone else offer a perspective – otherwise the program just comes off as an exercise in ax grinding.
Third, the presenter claims that the Gospels are not eyewitness testimony (he’s a cold case investigator, not a biblical scholar) – but he should have had a chat, at least, with Richard Bauckham on the matter. Right or wrong, Bauckham has to be consulted.
Fourth, when the presenter repeatedly refers to ‘the Jesus myth’ one needs to understand that this is a fair representation of his personal viewpoint. He seems to fit nicely into the ‘Mythicist’ camp or as near to it as one can without being one. Unsurprisingly, his conclusions support his presuppositions. Indeed, the fact that Spong makes an appearance as a ‘biblical expert’ calls the entire enterprise into question.
There are just so many problems, throughout. Note, as another example, the spelling on the map of Qumran. I’ve read a lot of material on the subject. Thousands and thousands, probably tens of thousands of pages over the span of years, and I’ve never seen anyone spell it like this.
Nonetheless there are a few highlights:
Joe Zias makes an appearance and makes some very important remarks regarding crucifixion. It is also claimed by the presenter that Jesus may have been crucified not on a cross, but on one of the many olive trees in the area.
Ok, that’s pretty much it.
Whereas many specials tend to be absurd and support absurd claims (like the shroud of Turin and Jesus was married and all that rot) this one heads in the opposite direction and because of its mythicist leanings results in the same level of absurdity. The highlight is Joe Zias and this chap, who discussed the average 1st century Jewish male and stated that the image of Jesus on our left is the least likely of all the representations while the one on the right is the most likely.
There are a good number of well known academics who appear but they don’t do a very good job of presenting the facts fairly. That is true even of Dom Crossan, who is edited in such a way as to seem to support the producer’s ‘the gospels don’t contain any truth’ line of thought.
It really is a shame that the producer went the direction he did. This could have been a fantastic documentary given the resources the film maker obviously had access to. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it turns out that it’s pretty much like all the rest. Skip it unless you want to see Zias shine.
Alright, to be accurate he’s describing the prophets of his own day. But I really see no reason to say that his remarks no longer apply to many who are supposed to proclaim the will of the Lord:
Its [i.e., Jerusalem’s] watchmen are all blind, they know nothing. Dumb watchdogs all, unable to bark, they dream, lie down, and love to sleep. Greedy dogs, never satisfied, such are the shepherds, who understand nothing; they all go their own way, each to the last man after his own interest. ‘Come, let me fetch wine; we will get drunk on strong drink, tomorrow will be just as wonderful as today and even more so!’ (Isa 56:10-12 NJB)
Yessir- that nicely describes too many Pastors today. Especially the first ‘they know nothing’ bit- since so many would rather get their sermons, on Saturday night, from a book of sermons instead of doing their own hard exegetical work. Such lameness really does give us a hint as to why tv specials about the Bible are equally lame and why people who profess faith know so little about Scripture and so are glad to lap up gallons of Downey Burnett.
You can have the privilege of watching Nicola Denzey Lewis talk about the recent flurry of news about the so called ‘James Ossuary’ and hear her take on the topic. I’m keen to hear her. I’ve recently become a fan of her measured and articulate scholarship. I like her. She’s sharp.