Reality TV Goliath takes up Bible miniseries challenge, hopes for better outcome
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey on the set of "The Bible," the 10-hour miniseries Burnett produced and directed.
March 2nd, 2013
11:00 PM ET

Reality TV Goliath takes up Bible miniseries challenge, hopes for better outcome

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Mark Burnett is the king of reality television. His shows and spinoffs command hours of prime-time television real estate. The seal of his production company One Three Media appears at the end of “Survivor,” “The Voice,” “The Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” “The Job” and “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”

He will tell you each show was No. 1 in the time slot. He will tell you he will take on all comers in his bare-knuckle, ratings-driven world and beat them. He will tell you on any given day he has 150 video-editing systems churning through edits on his dossier, which spans the three major broadcast networks.

But if you suggest he may not have the chops to take on a massive scripted dramatic presentation of the Bible as a 10-hour miniseries, his eyes will tell you he wants to throttle you.

My bad.

Burnett and wife, Roma Downey, have been barnstorming the country like roving preachers on horseback trying to evangelize the West. Their gospel is spreading the news of “The Bible” - their ambitious project that aims to tell the story of the Bible in 10 installments. It begins its weeklong premiere on the History Channel Sunday night.

We met in the lobby of the Washington Hilton the night before last month’s National Prayer Breakfast. They were in town to speak to Washington journalists and show clips from their project.

Burnett and Downey’s project tackles the narrative of the Bible, a story woven through 66 books of the Old Testament and New Testament. It’s a story revered by billions as divine revelation – and one they’ve compressed into 10 hours of television. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot.

Many have taken aim at dramatizing the stories of the Bible. Few of those productions stood the test of time. They knew all that going in 3 1/2 years ago when “the light bulb went off,” as Downey puts it.

“It’s been a great fun journey right, Roma?” Burnett said to his wife of nearly six years.

“And we’re still talking to each other,” Downey said, smiling.

Both Downey and Burnett were raised Catholic, Burnett in England and Downey in Ireland. They still regularly attend Mass in Los Angeles. Growing up, both watched the classic Biblical films that the Hollywood of yesteryear churned out, like “The Ten Commandments” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

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“In Ireland, we used to sit up and wait for John Wayne to say, ‘Surely that man was the Son of God,’ at the end of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' every Easter,” Downey said, with her thick Irish brogue dipping into a delightfully terrible John Wayne impersonation.

After showing their kids "The Ten Commandments" with Charlton Heston, their three teenagers had one request for the Bible project. They told their parents, “Please don’t make it lame.”

Making it work

The project is personal for Burnett and Downey, coming from a deep spiritual desire for more people to see and experience the stories of their faith. As Europeans, now naturalized U.S. citizens, they are stunned the Bible is not taught in public schools.

“It was time for an updating. Adding fresh visual life to a sacred text,” Burnett said.

“People have great hearts and great knowledge but no experience of filmmaking and no budgets,” Burnett said of past telling of the stories on film and television.

“Or the resources,” Downey chimed in. “We wanted to create something that was gritty and authentic. We certainly didn’t want everyone to look like they stepped out of the dry cleaners.”


Burnett and Downey may not have been high on the list of many studios as producers and directors to put a massive scripted project like this together. "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" starring Donald Trump and Gary Busey is not exactly" Ben-Hur," and Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green spinning in chairs on the singing competition "The Voice" isn’t often (or ever) compared to the "Ten Commandments."

When I asked Burnett about this, he seemed genuinely insulted.

“Based on viewership, maybe I should be giving a few lessons to the people who are doing stories. Because we have five nights of No. 1 wins on prime-time television,” he started. “As a family we’ve made over 2,000 hours of American television and 8,000 worldwide.”

As he cooled down, ticking off a list of reasons why he and his wife were best suited for the job, he delved into how this project was made.

The production, he insisted, was a lot more like the production that goes into "Survivor" than nearly any feature film or television show in production.

"Survivor" typically includes a cast and crew of 400 people in a remote location with multiple helicopters and boats.

To film the Bible series, they set off for the southern tip of Morocco in Africa with a similar-size crew and hundreds of extras. Not to mention the chariots and horses.

“It was epic,” Downey said.

“Our experience with large-scale productions was very, very important,” Burnett said.

To help further bring the story to life, they brought in Lola, an Oscar-winning CGI team from London who created similar scenes for the film "Gladiator."

They went with an international ensemble for the cast because they didn’t want to distract the audience with recognizable celebrities.

Jesus was played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado. Many other actors came from the Theatre District in London.

An actor portrays an Egyptian slave driver in 'The Bible' miniseries

Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus in 'The Bible' miniseries

The most recognizable face to most in North America will be Downey herself, who stepped into the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary is portrayed in the series as a young woman at the Nativity, then later in life.

“It was a privilege to play it,” Downey said. For nine seasons, Downey starred in the CBS show “Touched by an Angel,” then went on to star in a number of TV movies.

“The scripts at one point just said Young Mary, and then as the scripts progressed it said Old Mary. I said, ‘OK, we have to change that right now.’ The last thing I need to see is ‘Old Mary’ played by Roma Downey,” she said with a laugh. “So we changed it to Mother Mary.”

The budget for the 10 hours was under $22 million, Burnett said, a small price tag for a production on such a grand scale. (NBC paid $4 million per episode for the show “Smash” this season, according to an estimate by the New York Times)

“It’s not easy, even for us, to sell and get placed on prime time television, 10 hours – Genesis to Revelation,” Burnett said. “Do we wish we had 25 or 100 [hours], yes but we got 10. We got a great budget. It looks like it’s a $200 million movie. Of course it’s not. It’s just our combined experiences, our hearts and efforts that make it look like that.”

Getting it right

As they considered which parts of the Bible to shoot, they had to pare down hundreds of stories.

“The first decision was, it’s one story,” Burnett said. “It’s not a series of unconnected stories, it’s one grand narrative.”

“You could call it the meta narrative.”

The series encompasses five hours of the Old Testament and five hours of the New Testament.

They took many artistic liberties to compress the story lines while hoping to remain true to the story.

A public relations manager for the project described the liberties to me as “extra-biblical but not contra-biblical.”

For instance, in the series opener, the Book of Genesis stories of Adam and Eve and Noah unfold together. Noah and his family are already on the ark while the flood waters batter their boat. To calm his family, Noah tells them the story of creation: “In the beginning! ... ” Noah bellows as he runs around plugging leaks and comforting his family and the animals.

An actor portrays an Egyptian slave driver in 'The Bible' miniseries

An actor portrays an Egyptian slave driver in 'The Bible' miniseries

Similarly, in the story of David and Goliath, when David heads out to face the giant Philistine foe, he clutches his sling and quietly begins to recite the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” David is considered the author of the psalm, but nowhere in the text of the David and Goliath story does it address what he said as he walked out to battle and slay Goliath.

The dialogue in much of the story is similarly constructed along the lines of the bare-bones text. When Jesus calls Peter to be his disciple, Peter asks, “What are we going to do?” Jesus answers, “We’re going to change the world.” Those lines never appear in the Gospel accounts, but Burnett and Downey insist it is consistent with the text.

“Every step of the way we’ve had scholars and theologians working with us,” Downey said.

Burnett and Downey consulted a wide range of pastors and academics, including a major evangelical leader and a Catholic cardinal.

Their advisory panel consisted of many people from varied backgrounds familiar with sharing the stories of the Bible rather than of a "who’s who" of Biblical academics.

Joel Osteen, a popular television preacher and pastor of the 30,000-member Lakewood church in Houston, was among those consulted. Osteen and Burnett are friends and were developing a television series together that went on the back burner during the production of this series. Osteen even took his family to Morocco during some of the filming.

“[Burnett] would send scripts our way and ask doctrinal or Bible questions about it, but a lot of it was a friendship and an advisory role,” Osteen said.

CNN Belief: Five things we learned from Joel Osteen's visit

Osteen said much of his work was confirming if the extrabiblical material stayed true to the Bible.

His encouragement to Burnett was to “use your creativity to fill in between the lines.”

Another consultant was Rabbi Joshua Garroway, an assistant professor at the Hebrew Union College and an expert on early Christianity and the Second Jewish commonwealth (circa 530 B.C. to 70 A.D.) Judaism. He was a paid consultant on the project.

“One of the issues that came up frequently in the comments was the goal of the production was to remain faithful, or at least as faithful as possible, to the narrative and text of the Bible, as opposed to a historical critical approach,” he said.

“The series is not meant to be a historical feature but as a representation of the biblical narrative which is at times historical and at times not,” Garroway said.

One reason Garroway thought he was brought in was because in parts of the New Testament, “there are less than generous depictions of Jews, Jewish leaders and Jewish traditions.”

One of several Jewish scholars involved, his role as a New Testament scholar was to help the production stay faithful to the text but also “diminish as much as possible scenes or statements that could be construed as overly negative toward Jews and Jewish judgment.”

While he thinks the project has an overall Christian orientation, “I think they did well.”

“I don’t think it will run into the same problems that Mel Gibson’s movie ("The Passion of the Christ") did because the producers have been somewhat conscientious about forestalling some of the things that could produce that effect in the Jewish community,” he said, referring to perceptions of anti-Semitism from the 2004 film.

Osteen thinks the project will have a lasting impact in churches. He plans to use pieces of the project in his services to help illustrate points he’ll make in his sermons.

“I know I’m biased because I’m their friend, but I think it’ll be something that will live on for generations because it’s done with excellence, not knocking anything else, it’s just this is production 50 years past where some of the other films were made,” he said.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Burnett and Downey also think this project will be their most lasting and most viewed.

Burnett said the couple have deferred all their fees for the project. They probably don’t need the money anyway. Forbes lists Burnett as among its 100 highest-earning celebrities with an estimated income of $55 million in 2012.

While the History Channel owns the exclusive North American rights to the project, Burnett and Downey own the rights to global distribution and theatrical airings, which are in the works. There is also a book tie-in, games and apps attached to the project.

For the couple, the project was not about turning a profit, though they likely will. Instead, it was about bringing new life to the stories of their faith for a new audience.

“Will it be screened in movie theaters? Yes, for sure. "Already been approached. Arenas, churches, every way you can imagine,” Burnett said.

Burnett ticked through the shows he and Downey have put together over the years. “Over the next 25 years," he said, "more people will see this than all the others combined.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Entertainment • TV

soundoff (2,068 Responses)
  1. One one

    I wonder if they will depict Jesus as he is in revelation; with white hair, fire eyes, brass feet and a sword sticking out of his. Mouth.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Topher

      Don't know for sure, but I bet they end it with the resurrection. I think the last episode aires on Easter.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    Christianity: a religion based on an invisible sky daddy that impregnated another mans virgin wife to recreate itself then "sacrifice" itself to itself to atone for a faulty creation it made but knew full well before hand that it's creation would be faulty.


    March 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Yeah, I have an idea for a reality show, it'll be called "Nine Months BC" or "Joseph Will Believe ANYTHING."

      March 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Christianity: a religion based on a God, when His creation used the free will He gave them (without which they would have been puppets) to make the wrong choice, loved them enough to come into there world and sacrifice Himself to pay their penalty.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Bob Bales
      Christianity: a religion based on a God, when His creation used the free will He gave them (without which they would have been puppets) to make the wrong choice'

      But didn't god know they would make the 'wrong choice' and still went ahead and created them anyway, and put a tempting tree in the garden and tell them not to touch it?
      He knew all this and still did it and then blamed them for it? Talk about blaming the victim.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      God "blamed" them for exactly what they did. He did know about it, which allowed Him to make a plan to redeem them before they sinned. But that did not make them the victims. A victim is someone who is not responsible for what happens to him. But Adam and Eve were responsible. God's knowing did not force their actions. They knew right from wrong; they had the ability to obey but deliberately chose to disobey. No victimhood here,

      March 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      It seems Bob's brain Baled on him.

      March 3, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  3. Nietodarwin

    I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
    Bertrand Russell

    Religion. It`s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.
    Charlie Chaplin

    March 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Christian7

      "Socialism won't fail in Russia, or anywhere else," - Charlie Chaplin

      March 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  4. Nietodarwin

    JAMM You really should take Star Trek much more seriously than the bible. The bible calls bats "birds" Star Trek talks of "cloaking" technology, which now exists!!! The list goes on and on. Star Trek is about science, and evidence. Religion is about abuse of the weak and ignorant.

    Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.
    Richard Dawkins

    March 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Topher

      "The bible calls bats 'birds'"

      The Bible, in fact, does not.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Topher. You are correct. The bats/birds thing is a mistranslation it seems.

      But there's the rub: the Bible says what the countless priests (with alterior motives and no claim to divinity) who have translated and rewritten and edited and changed it over the years want it to say. It has changed significantly since the first story book was pieced together.

      How can anyone today follow any line in that book as the word of any god when it has been so twisted and corrupted by men?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Topher

      Dyslexic doG

      Well, that would be a concern if that were true. But it's just not. We have copies of the Bible within 25 years of its original. So we know what it said then and know what it says now. Were there changes? Yes. Things like chapters and verse numbers were added. Some of the books were split into two. We have a few passages that were not in those oldest copies, but change nothing. So the claims that priests were changing things to meet their motives just holds no weight. So no, there have been no significant changes to the Bible and we know this because we have these extremely old copies.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      For the New Testament, in particular, we have more manuscripts written closer to the original authorship than for any other contemporary text. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, we found older manuscripts from the Old Testament. There is no evidence of continual rewriting and twisting.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "We have copies of the Bible within 25 years of its original." You'll have to expand on that, Topher. At first I thought you meant there were Bibles from the First Century, and that's not true. As to whether things were added that significantly change what the Bible says, I point people to 1 John 5:7 in this version:

      For there are three that bear record in heaven,
      the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
      and these three are one.

      This was added around the time in which the concept of the triune God of the current common understanding of the Trinity became doctrine.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The book I have in front of me does not include 1 John 5:7 as one of the "added" passages, but that doesn't mean it wasn't. So basically, if you have evidence that it was I'd love to hear it.

      "This was added around the time in which the concept of the triune God of the current common understanding of the Trinity became doctrine."

      The triune God was in the OT as well as the new, so I'm not sure what you mean about when it became doctrine.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      " For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." KJV

      Not present in early manuscripts. Because of this, most modern translations make a footnote out of it after redacting it from the main text.

      I'm curious, what do you see in the Old Testament that supports the triune nature of God? Jews certainly don't see it and it is their book after all.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "Not present in early manuscripts. Because of this, most modern translations make a footnote out of it after redacting it from the main text."

      Might be. I just looked in my English Standard Version (which is one of the most modern translations) and it says nothing in the footnotes about it. Not saying some don't, just saying this one doesn't. Also, I'm not seeing anything in my MacArthur Study Bible stuff.

      "I'm curious, what do you see in the Old Testament that supports the triune nature of God? Jews certainly don't see it and it is their book after all."

      Yeah, Jews disagree with Christians on a lot of stuff in the OT. Just look at Psalm 22. It's blatantly about Christ's crucifixtion even though this was written a LONG time before it was even invented. Now, as far as the trinity in the OT, we could start with Genesis 1:2 ... "And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." Isaiah talks a LOT about the Christ (second part of the Trinity) ... it might not be out and out describing the Trinity in so many words, but it is in there.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jamm

      Topher, we have copies of the original Star Trek script much closer than 25 years to when the first one was written. Does that make it more likely to be true? It doesn't matter when the fiction was written, it's still fiction.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  5. ArthurP

    I hope they show this part:

    Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished. Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold. Their bows will slaughter the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.

    Isaiah 13:15-18

    March 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Topher

      Why? What's special about this part?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • JMEF

      Topher.... Like you circular BS it is disgusting. How was the sermon today?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Topher

      The sermon was great. But I still don't see why you want to see this specific verse.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • JMEF

      Really, do you EVER relate to the topic of the article, ever? The idea being will they show this type of scene in the series, where children are murdered and girls ra.ped or just ignore the ugly parts of the bible?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Topher


      I didn't bring up this quote. Someone else did. Why is it any more ugly than today's society? These things happen now, too. So why would you want to see this on screen?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  6. Vince

    Why is this on the History Channel? It's a fable that has nothing to do with history.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      So are ancient astronauts and sasquatches of many types. Still, they're all over the history channel.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • ArthurP

      To capture the lowest common denominator of American culture. Which just happens to be the largest available market.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      The ignorant masses will watch it and they'll make a ton of money.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    As an athiest I have nothing but love for you Christians. I am just puzzled as to why you suspend reality and believe a bronze age story book cobbled together from previous egyptian, roman, greek and pagan religions as truth. I wish you and your imaginary friend all the best and ask you please do not force laws on the rest of the country based on your fantasy. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Topher

      Well, because we believe the Bible is telling us about reality.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      best wishes for a speedy recovery then. 🙂

      March 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      How do you reach the conclusion that just because we don't agree with you, we are somehow suspending reality?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  8. Jamm

    To better understand how some atheists view all of this, consider that I look on all of this as the Star Trek fan scene. You have folks who will argue vehemently and passionately (Jesus or Jehova, Kirk or Picard), those who dress up in funny costumes (all of the Catholic clergy, Jews with funny hats), people writing fan-fiction (all the movies), etc. And for both parties, no matter what they do, they will never really be beamed up, and they will never see Jesus perform a miracle. But the Trekkies rarely kill people who don't believe. Guess that's where the analogy breaks down. But up to that point, they're the same, and I take both equally seriously.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      March 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • JMEF

      Intresting that Scotty's ashes ended up in space, if any fictional character ever ascended, it was Scotty.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  9. Nietodarwin

    Will this movie show the murder of children, and the happiness of the murderer. It's in the bible.!!!!!!!! (PSALM 137)

    How should you feel when you dash babies against the rocks?

    Happy. - Is this "pro-life"? This is one of numerous examples of god-ordained genocide. Even if you coldly feel there is justice in killing the innocent infants of people deemed "evil" by your religion, would you be happy to do it, as the bible declares? If this is not evil, then what is?
    "O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." (Psalm 137:8-9)

    March 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Maybe they'll cover Numbers: 31, where god tells the Israelites to kill thousands of men and boys and all the women who "have known a man" and to enslave all the virgin women and girls.

      Just think if that happened today. Israel tells the world – We killed thousands of Palestinian captives, all the men and boys and non-virgin women. Then we made slaves out of all the virgin women and girls. But it's okay, god told us to do it.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  10. Jamm

    I wonder how many different forms of marriage they'll show, to help educate those who claim that "one man, one woman" is how the Bible wants it.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • lol??

      You're hopin' for creative license??

      March 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • ArthurP

      A few excerpts from an article called: Marriage by Barbara G. Walker

      The word marriage came from the Latin maritare, union under the ausp.ices of the Goddess Aphrodite-Mari.  Because the Goddess's patronage was constantly invoked in every aspect of marriage, Christian fathers were opposed to the insti.tution.  Origen declared, "Matrimony is impure and unholy, a means of se.xual passion." St. Jerome said the primary purpose of a man of God was "to cut down with an ax of Virginity the wood of Marriage".(1)  St. Ambrose said marriage was a crime against god, because it changed the state of virginity that God gave every man and woman at birth.(2)

      St. Augustine flatly stated that marriage is a sin and St. Paul damned marriage with faint praise, remarking that to marry was only better than to burn( 1 cor. 7:9).

      Saturninus said God made only two kinds of people, good men and evil women.  Marriage perpetuated the deviltry of women, who dominated men through the magic of se.x(8).  Centuries later, St. Bernard still proclaimed that it was easier of a man to bring back the dead to life than to live with a woman without endangering ones soul.(9)

      Priests abandoned the churches' rule of celibacy and began to take wives during the 5th and 6th centuries.  This continued to the 11th century, when papal decretals commanded married clergymen to turn their wives out  of their homes and sell their children as slaves. (5)

      The church displayed remarkable reluctance to deal with the mater of marriage at all.  During the Middle Ages there was no ecclesiastical definition of a valid marriage nor of any contract to validate one. Churchmen seemed to have no ideas at all on the subject(6)

      The earliest form of Christian marriage was a simple blessing of the newly wedded, "in facie ecclesiae" –outside the churches closed doors– to keep the pollution of lust out of God's house.  This blessing was a technical violation of canon law, but it became popular and gradually won status.(7).

      There was no sacrament of marriage until the 16th century (3). Catholic scholars say the wedding ceremony was "imposed on" a reluctant church, and "nothing is more remarkable that the tardiness with which liturgical forms for the marriage ceremony were evolved."  It is perhaps not remarkable to find that these liturgical forms were not evolved by the church at all, but borrowed from pagan common law (4).

      1-William Fielding, Customs of Courtship and Marriage, 82, 114
      2-Robert Briffault, The Mothers, Vol 3, 373
      3-William Fielding, Customs of Courtship and Marriage, 233
      4-Robert Briffault, The Mothers, Vol 3, 248-249
      5-Jacobus de. Voragine, The Golden Legend 90-91
      6-Ronald Pearsall, The Worm in the Bud , 162-63
      7-Encyclopedia Britannica, "Marriage"
      8-Vern Bullough,The Subordinate se.x, 103, 112
      9-Joseph Cambell, Myths to Live By, 95

      March 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • .

      You do every you open your legs for your "cause", lollsaround.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Topher

      What other ways of marriage does the Bible endorse?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I wonder if they will show Job's family being wiped out to settle a bet between god and satan.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  11. Jez

    Its disgusting the way Christians revel in Jesus getting beaten to a bloody pulp and then nailed to a cross to die. Just unbelievable.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The more graphic, the more they lust after it. The destruction of the Temple and then Rebuilding in 3 days is a more positive story. This all reminds me of Mel road raging down Hwy 1, drunk and coked up; cursing Jews.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • lol??

      Justice is a hard concept.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • ArthurP

      if he was God how could he die?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • JMEF

      It makes what they did to the non-believers, heretics and heathens more acceptable, gore is right christian.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • .

      Another hard concept that lollsaround ascribes to: a hard man is good to find for putting food on the table to avoid the government cheese.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Topher


      "if he was God how could he die?"

      Because He was fully God and fully man.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Topher, you approve of god impregnating his own mother so she could give birth to him and he could die, but only for three days?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • ArthurP


      So like the Dread Pirate Roberts (The Princes Bride) he was only 'mostly dead'. Now The Princess Bride was was just a made up story. So then That means that the Jesus story, since it also includes the concept of 'mostly dead' must also be made up. ...

      March 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • One one

      They ritualistically eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. Then speak of being washed in the blood of Jesus. This is a blood cult.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Christian7

      "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

      March 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      What happened to Jesus is unbelievable and disgusting. It makes you want to to turn away. That's the way sin is. We don't revel in it. We revel that He, as God, was willing to take the punishment upon Himself.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      What do you expect from a death cult?

      March 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      bob: if the omniscient god knew we were going to sin, punishing us for what he knew we were going to do just reveals him to be a vindictive pr1ck

      March 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      No, it shows the God has a sense of justice. Just punishment depends on what we do. What God did or didn't know has no bearing on the matter.

      March 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  12. John P. Tarver

    I think this will just be anther allegory for the Irish experiance, with an impoverished beaten Jesus absorbing all the sins of Mankind. Reality from Luke says Christ was born a Prince of Israel, with purchased Roman Citizenship. A story about the Jesus who walked away from it all and Redeemed Adam's birthright would be refreshing.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Reality" would show Jesus as the fiction he is.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Jeff

    I'm a Christian. I love you all, especially the non-believers. Please direct your insults at me if it will make you feel better.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Be kind to the Spiritually impoverished, for they are truely poor.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      Jesus ~= Dionysus ~= Osiris ~= Horus ~= Mithras

      March 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      As an athiest I love you too. I am just puzzled as to why you suspend reality and believe a bronze age story book cobbled together from previous egyptian, roman, greek and pagan religions as truth. I wish you and your imaginary friend all the best and ask you please do not force laws on the rest of the country based on your fantasy. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Reality

      A prayer just for Jeff:

      The Apostles' Creed Updated 2013 (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (references used are available upon request)

      March 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      End Religion: Was Jesus a man who claimed to be God and whose doing things that only God could do was recorded by contemporaries? Yes.

      Was Dionysus? No.

      Was Osiris? No.

      Was Horus? No.

      Was Mithras? No.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  14. TC

    Looking forward to seeing this – reviews are that he did a really good job of trying to get a lot of events in 10 hours of film.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • ArthurP

      So we will see all the bloated dead bodies of the children that God killed.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      Will we see Lot r@ping his daughter?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      Will we see God r@ping a 12 year old Mary?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  15. HEHE

    Man... I can't wait for it.... I hope he makes LOTS of money!!!!!... Next time access over itunes would be epic!

    March 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Nietodarwin

    Fans of "reality" TV tend to be uneducated and ignorant people, so it's not surprising that this producer is a xstian, they also tend to be uneducated and ignorant people. Atheism is growing, religion is shrinking, and therein lies our only hope for survival as a species.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • lol??

      Quit bein' a fear monger. You've always got the 1,000 year reign as a buffer.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  17. DaProfit

    I wonder how many people here sufffer from loneliness, fear, mindblowing anxiety and worry, and depression (you know – when you're sitting all alone in the dark)???

    March 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • lol??

      Beer goes way back. Commie mommies don't like it, though.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      "If you're lonely when you're alone, you're in bad company." -Jean-Paul Sartre

      March 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  18. James PDX

    Make sure to include the part in the Old Testament where God shows what a bigot he is toward the handicapped.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • lol??

      Look what you settled for in PUblic Servanthood.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • .

      Lollsaround knows all about PUbic servitude, being Las Vegas's premier go-to skank whore.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  19. End Religion

    If you turn to H2 channel you can learn a bit about Mithras, Jesus' precursor.

    March 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • lol??

      Where did they bury her??

      March 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • .

      Right next to Jesus, you blithering idiot.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • lol??

      But the A&A's say she was first to die and stayed dead. What's wrong wich choo??

      March 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  20. ArthurP

    Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All
    David Fitzgerald


    March 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • ArthurP


      March 3, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Reality

      "(Mr.) Fitzgerald currently holds a degree in history from California State University, Fresno and has been actively researching the historicity of Jesus for over ten years. Formerly an associate member of the defunct Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, Fitzgerald now serves on the boards of the San Francisco Atheists[1] and the San Francisco branch of the Center for Inquiry.[2] He is also the director and founder of the first Atheist Film Festival, as well as San Francisco's oldest Darwin Day celebration, Evolutionpalooza.[3]"

      Not what you call a stellar biography for an "expert" in the field of religious studies !

      Now for some expert studies and references regarding the historic Jesus:

      From Professors JD Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

      "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

      “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

      “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

      “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

      I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

      See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

      Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

      Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

      There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

      See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

      From ask.com,

      "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

      Then there are these scriptural references:

      Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

      Added suggested readings:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • .

      Oh, shut the fuck up, you inane asshole, Reality. You fancy yourself a scholar, when in Reality, you are no better than the scholar you just tried to dis. Oh, wait, let me re-phrase: you are a pseudo-scientific hack, with an enormous ego that you don't deserve.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Let's look at a few known facts:
      people from the time and place that Jesus is said to have lived became converts to Christianity.
      people from the time and place that Jesus was said to have lived were killed for their faith.

      A group of men, claiming to be follower of Jesus, began to tell people they should follow Him: "This man called Jesus taught among you for three years, often here in Jerusalem. Then, less than two months ago, he was arrested at Passover, crucified, but rose from the dead." How ridiculous would that have been if Jesus had not even existed? There would have been NO converts to Christianity. The followers probably would not even have been laughed at - they would have been too silly to be worth the effort. Furthermore, people - both original followers and converts - willing went to their deaths for proclaiming Jesus.

      Those who say that Jesus never lived are saying that multiple people adopted beliefs that they knew not to be true, at no benefit to themselves. And then they willing went to their deaths for proclaiming what they knew perfectly well to be a lie. In short, they acted contrary to everything we know about human nature.

      March 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Reality

      Added references for perusal by anyone interested in the historic Jesus:

      o 10.The Gnostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
      by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm
      11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      12. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:
      14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:
      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/

      17. Diseases in the Bible:
      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf
      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
      29. NT and beyond time line:
      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      March 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.