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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.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wir4fH6hUxw&list=UUt_Q-xP9pUFpalCF-e_ZhtA&index=18]

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. Jay Athey

    the only question you have to answer are you here to spread love or hate...the closer you get to God, the farther you get from hate...

    March 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      That's a pretty subjective comment. Who then is the judge? Historically, people who claimed to be closest to god and were recognized so by others were full of hate (see Inquisition, Crusades, burning of heretics, and Hitler). Jesus, who was god himself told people to leave their families or not bury their loved ones. If you say that only god is the judge, then how can you make a statement like you did because as a human, you'd be incapable of quantifying such a perspective?

      March 4, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      Jay, you were really onto something until you brought your heathen god into the equation. Oh wel,, I'll continue hoping that one day Christians will learn the definition of love.

      March 5, 2013 at 2:13 am |
    • AliceP

      I think that goes either way, Jay. There are lots of people who supposedly love God, but can list a pretty big chunk of society that they pretty much hate. I sure haven't seen many Christians who love everyone, where the only people that I've seen atheists dislike are bigots and people who choose to be ignorant of basic scientific knowledge.

      March 5, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  2. GodFreeNow

    Burnett goes from "reality" TV to "fantasy" TV. I think the ti.tle should be "The Walking Dead" with all of the dead rising from the earth, but I understand that one is taken.

    March 4, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  3. Cted

    I do like it when they put more science fiction on TV, but this was just badly science fiction.....

    March 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Except science fiction usually has better science.

      March 5, 2013 at 6:20 am |
  4. ernieb28

    I applaud the effort to make a film based on Biblical events however, I think this movie was of poor quality. The Biblical events as edited, were all far too abbreviated to be a useful teaching tool or as a source of entertainment. The cast members as usual are actors/actresses that don't historically fit the actual character. For example, Jesus is described in The Bible as having hair of wool, bronze complected skin and eyes like fire. How does that equate to the "Hollywood version" which has him with straight hair, pale complected and blue eyes. Does it make sense to find a white actor to play the part of an Indian? Every director should make sure he/she has done the necessary research on geographical culture of that time, as well as the actual character.

    The one thing that really holds my attention about any movie is it's "believability factor." If you're going to recreate the events of the Bible, you cannot hold to old Hollywood standards and cast actors/actresses that are not people of color because historically thats incorrect. The color of the actors in this movie is not the determining factor of whether I believe the movie's accounting of the Biblical events, but it does take away from the credibility of the maker of this film which I personally find mis-leading.

    March 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • End Religion

      The book is fiction. The show is fiction. Does it really matter if he was white, bronze or green?

      March 5, 2013 at 2:19 am |
    • JaneK

      From the preview of the next show, Samson and Delilah look like they're African-American. Do you think that's going to be accurate?

      March 5, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  5. Sara Howells

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcyW7rMYR7A
    ..

    March 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Garbage Alert

      Don't bother viewing this garbage, this troll is only here to get hits for their youtube site.

      Click the report abuse link to get rid of this trash.

      March 5, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  6. HAPPY

    I would just like to say iI loved the show ,and CAN"T wait for the rest to air .
    FOR ALL OF YOU HATERS JUST DON'T WATCH IT !!! I'M SURE YOU HAVE MORE THEN JUST THE HISTORY CHANEL.. IF NOT READ A BOOK !!!

    March 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Thank you for writing your message in ALL CAPS. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to sit through all of restrained messages where people only use caps in keeping with good rules of grammar. It's about time some took charge and said screw it to the rules of etiquette and decency and used caps without regard to anyone else's feelings. Kudos.

      March 4, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      Not to mention the misspelled words and crappy punctuation.

      March 5, 2013 at 2:36 am |
    • Jimmy

      I don't like it for the same reason I don't like any of Burnett's shows, they're all about celebrating human greed and ambition, and they encourage people to do whatever it takes to get ahead.

      Besides that, this show is just not done very well.

      March 5, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  7. UncleBenny

    I just watched the first twenty minutes. That was really, really, really, bad. Cheesy, boring, rushing breathlessly from one half-told story to the next. Not going to bother with the rest.

    March 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  8. HAPPY

    I would just like to say that I AM VERY HAPPY TO SEE THE BIBLE, AND CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THE REST .
    FOR ALL YOU HATERS OUT THERE JUST DON'T WATCH IT !!!!!!!

    March 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Here I would like to thank you for posting your message twice. It truly was SO important that it had to be repeated within the space of 2 minutes. I look forward to seeing more repeti.tive posts by you. I look forward to seeing more repeti.tive posts by you.

      March 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      It's probably really important for you to SEE the Bible as a TV miniseries, because I doubt that you are able to actually READ it with any sort of comprehension whatsoever.

      March 5, 2013 at 6:22 am |
  9. 12ax7

    And here is Tom Tom again. You don't don't have a life do you?

    March 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  10. Liel

    The first part was good. Must admit, it felt rushed at times. Was great to watch the dramatization, it was more fun recollecting the narrative and reciting some of the key verses as they were portrayed. Just refreshes the memory.
    Well done! loved it!

    March 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Funny how they missed Lot offering his little daughters to the mob, isn't it?

      March 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Liel

      Sad to hear that you are stuck with Lot, hope you progress your knowledge as the series progresses.
      Human disobedience and consequential suffering are great life lessons.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      They missed a good opportunity to teach the true word of god. They could easily have put some funky mood music on and did a slow-mo montage of the crowd r@ping Lot's daughters after he gladly handed them over. Then at the end, show Lot smiling and wiping his brow so thankful his imaginary friends were spared.

      March 5, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Jimmy

      Liel
      "disobedience"?
      Did God tell Lot to give over his daughters? The Bible holds up Lot as some kind of moral example, but would you do such a thing, ever? Open your eyes!

      March 5, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  11. anthony chelsea

    debunking stinky atheists scientific law by scientic law. Science backs the Holy.
    ahahahaha
    so much to call Bible a "myth" ha? myths, atheism, nazism, evolution, eugenics, ahtiests FOOLs are ALL under the FEET of the Most High!
    Praise the Lord! The One above all name: JESUS CHRIST THE LORD !! 😛

    March 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wow. Did you just have a stroke?

      March 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      AC, why are you so threatened?

      March 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Jimmy

      You laugh like The Joker, anthony.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Tay

      Honestly this reply is very ignorant. You should really be more accepting of others. Just because you believe one thing doesn't mean that everything else is a sin or a lie. People believe what they believe. It doesn't mean you should go around being ignorant about it.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  12. anthony chelsea

    We Christians continue worship what Jews did in the Old Testament. The Only True God, the Creator of everything.
    We thankfully are not like ALL the rest, crazy myths, worshipping snakes, trees, sun, sea, bla,bla,bla...and we are FREE!
    free to do Science, explore the nature, free of hate of atheists, free from sin and death!
    We are free from bondage of this fallen, sinful system on this world. This system belongs to the devil. Everything on this earth is a result of his reign. desease, atheists, haters, wars, sin, sin, and sin. abortion, murder, sin, atheism, nazism....the lies which mix the HOly with politics (such as cruzades – and still if you want to use that stinky argument, say that hundreds of thousands of Christians were mudered by the catholic church because they were transforemd and read the Scriptures). It is hilarious the deep blind hateful people who want to talk about stuff they have no clue about it. The Holy. they, YOU come from SIN, rebellion, hate, confusion, arrogance and love for sin. Love for lies. I know you. The Scriptures Stand. You lost! YOU will have to answer for you actions and rebellion. YOU will be hold accountable for you actions on this earth when you die. And you WILL be before your creator right after you die. YOU have NO excuse FOOL. you heard the WORD. You KNOW the Truth. Different than those who never heard of JESUS CHRIST YOU will be JUDGED by the LAW.

    March 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • End Religion

      Someone forgot his crazy pills this morning...

      March 5, 2013 at 2:29 am |
    • Jimmy

      Sounds pretty crazy to me. Maybe he should stop taking them for a while?

      March 5, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  13. anthony chelsea

    For those really seeking the Truth. Check it out those you tuve videos debunking atheist's lies, hilarious lies and their regular, daily lies.
    "The Bible wrong? atheists arguments examined"
    "101 scientific facts the Bible declare longe before scientists"

    do not listen to hateful, lunatic people. The Bible call them FOOLS. That is what they are.

    March 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      anthony chelsea,
      "The Bible call them FOOLS. "

      A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      anthony,

      Regarding your "101 scientific 'facts'":

      http://unreligious.wordpress.com/category/exposed-101-scientific-facts-in-the-bible/page/2/

      It's quite long, but a fairly comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal (you'll need to go to 'previous page' for the ones after #10).

      March 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • anthony chelsea

      what happened to the you tube videos? LOL
      listen buddy, your lies are old and stinky...and you WILL be exposed. Everytime I read atheists FOOLS here making comments is just hilarious.
      such a straight face to lie.
      YOU are a FOOL...I am giving the SCRIPTURE. Holy Scripture. So....get over it

      March 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • anthony chelsea

      You are debunked. And the video "atheists arguments examined" is a gift for you, liar.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why do you seem so angry, anthony?

      March 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      anthony chelsea,

      YouTube videos? Dunno. Can't you READ?

      (I doubt if there are coloring books of the rebuttal either!)

      March 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      anthony chelsea,
      ".I am giving the SCRIPTURE. Holy Scripture"

      Scripture/Schmipture. It is NOTHING (regarding evidence for your fantasy beings).

      March 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Anthony chelsea

    66 books 40 authors all speaking in one voice. The harmony of the Bible given all the authors living in different times (sometimes thousands of years apart) is itself a miracle.
    The Bible interpret and correct itself. Myths are just a bunch of stories without any sense. The Bible also counts on Science as its protector. Regardless the hatred of many here against the Word of God, regardless their delusions, Science continues confirming every single Scientific Biblical Statement.
    Two of the oldest writings ever, Job and the apocryphal Enoch, confirm everything in Genesis, Exodus and elsewhere. Enoch is likely the first writing ever. The accusers and Bible haters here want to reverse the true. Myths reproduced some of the facts, distorted or made stuff up on the top of ti (with all kinds of crazy stories). All myths tells parts of the Bible, one way or another. If the Word of God wasn't perfect, supernatural, wouldn't resist all these milleniums, especially with hateful people like those around here. People like you burned, banned, etc did everything...lol ....didn't work. God Himself keep his Word. This childish accusation of the Bible "copying" myths is hilarious! is a statement from someone who obviously never read the Bible or just reproduce the talking hateful point of atheists and other lunatics. sorry.
    the Scriptures Stands. Even the Biblical Poetry is full of scientific statements revealing scientific laws thousands of yeras before the european man...eh,eh....I Love the Word...
    the book IS perfect, alive and Spiritual Truth who changes people's lives. Archeology, history etc are out there confirming word by word. Taking all Science, taking all myths (filtering 95% of the delusion) will lead us to one thing: The Holy, Holy Scriptures.
    Praise His Name! Above ALL names! Jesus Christ, the creator of heavens and earth!!

    March 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Anthony chelsea,

      Are you aware of how the Bible that you see today was compiled? The writings were selected from oodles of ancient Hebrew stories because they agreed with the party line of the early Church committees. You only see the 66 'books' that those guys chose. The ident'ities of many of those "40 authors" is quite unknown, and some 'books' may have multiple writers.

      The Bible is a book which includes *some* history of primitive Hebrew culture, and *some* good advice for practical, beneficial human behavior, but mostly it is a compilation of ancient Middle Eastern historical fiction, myth, legend, superst.ition and fantasy.

      The NT is a collection of the writings of various 1st century evangelists who were promoting their new offshoot religion.

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for any of the supernatural beings and events in that book.

      As for the "perfect" science - how about just a small sampling:

      – The Earth is flat – Proverbs 8:27- Isaiah 40:22- and others
      – Bats are birds – Leviticus 11:13, & 19
      – Pi is 3 – 1 Kings 7:23
      – Unfaithful wives' thighs rot – Numbers 5
      – Striped goats are bred by having the mating pair stare at striped objects – Genesis 30:35
      – Hares chew their cud – Leviticus 11:5 & 6
      – Plants survived without sunlight – Genesis 1
      – Hail and snow are kept in storehouses in the sky – Job 38:22
      – Resurrected dead people ran through the streets of Jerusalem – Matthew 27:52-53

      March 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Anthony Chelsea

      a frayed knot,
      Israel knew they were different than all the other Nations who worship multiple "gods", and things of nature, or animals..Israel always worshipped the 'invisible" one. The Creator of Heavens and Earth. The One who inspired the prophets to write the facts into the Biblical Narrative. The pagan myths all took the facts and distorted in shaped on their own sinful, dirty image. What about all cultures having the flood stories and other Biblical accounts? all cultures..
      Isaiah 40:22 use the hebrew word SPHERE or GLOBE. The only word to described those shapes in all hebrew language. I know you talking point hate memo but...gotta do better than that buddy..."flat" LOL I can debunk your lies one by one...
      gotta do better than that.....aint working.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Jimmy

      The Hebrews worshipped multiple gods for a long time too. That's what the prophets were complaining about a lot of the time. YHWH even had a goddess wife, most likely.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Anthony

      You got any citations to back up them using the word "sphere" or "globe"? One would think that the myriad of bibles would have changed to reflect that instead of sticking with circle. Not to mention all the mentions of the four pillars, four corners, the earth being fixed and unmoving in space.
      Then we can get to why you only responded to a single point of that list. Seems like you may be a little disingenuous.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @A Frayed Knot : Are you aware of how the Bible that you see today was compiled? The writings were selected from oodles of ancient Hebrew stories because they agreed with the party line of the early Church committees. You only see the 66 'books' that those guys chose.

      The New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew. These stories were selected because the early Church leaders authenticated them as being from those Apostles / Disciples recognized as having been choosen by Christ. Any manuscript written long after Christ were called out as deceptive.

      The Old Testament was written in Hebrew / Aramaic. However, these books were selected because the Jews recognized them as being inspired by God.

      So, your postulate has been falsified.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Live

      Why, because you said so? Sorry, but just because you say he's wrong doesn't mean it's falsified.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @hawaiiguest : You got any citations to back up them using the word "sphere" or "globe"?

      Would you agree that if one were to shine a light on a sphere in a dark room, the boundary between the light and darkness would be a circle regardless of where the light originated from?

      March 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If it looked like a circle and they called it a circle, then they didn't know it was a sphere.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Live

      It would be "circular", not a circle. A circle is 2 dimensional, having only width and length, while a sphere is 3 dimensional. No matter where the source of light is or hitting, the revealed area is still 3 dimensional.
      So no, it would not be a circle, nor does your irrelevant question in any way address my question.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @hawaiiguest : Why, because you said so? Sorry, but just because you say he's wrong doesn't mean it's falsified.

      It's falsified because the empirical evidence is contrary to his/her claim.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Live4Him,
      "The New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew. These stories were selected because the early Church leaders authenticated them as being from those Apostles / Disciples recognized as having been choosen by Christ."

      - What makes you think that these 4th century churchmen knew how to investigate the authorship of 300 year-old writings?

      - There are many ancient Hebrew writings which the Jews claim came from "God" which were not included in this compilation by the early churchmen.

      - Here is a drawing of what the early Hebrews thought the Earth and the Universe looked like:
      http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/images/genesisearth.jpg

      March 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @Lie4ever: what "empirical evidence"?

      March 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Live

      And would you actually do something new and provide that "empirical evidence" you talk about alot?

      March 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Live4Him: Would you agree that if one were to shine a light on a sphere in a dark room, the boundary between the light and darkness would be a circle regardless of where the light originated from?

      @hawaiiguest : It would be "circular", not a circle.

      So, what's your difference between circular and circle?

      @hawaiiguest : No matter where the source of light is or hitting, the revealed area is still 3 dimensional.

      I didn't specify the area, but the boundary between the two (i.e. the line between the light and darkness). This boundary line is a two dimensional object. So, would you agree that it is a circle?

      @hawaiiguest : nor does your irrelevant question in any way address my question.

      I'll elucidate my posit once we get our definitions completed.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Live

      The boundary, sure why the hell not. Now where is your citation of the Hebrew word used, and why does this matter to that question?

      March 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Live4Him,

      At what alt'itude do people look to be the size of grasshoppers (Isaiah)? Probably about 1000-2000 ft - just like it would look if they climbed up the hills surrounding that area and looked back down on the peeps below. While they were up there, they could have observed the horizon all around them, and they would have turned themselves in a complete circle.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Live4Him

      Live4Him: Would you agree that if one were to shine a light on a sphere in a dark room, the boundary between the light and darkness would be a circle regardless of where the light originated from?

      @hawaiiguest : The boundary, sure why the hell not.

      So, you agree that it would create a circle.

      Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters At the boundary of light and darkness.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Anthony
      Hang on – who exactly is it that censored The Bible?
      Until recently, the Vatican kept a list of banned books.
      In fact, for some 1500 years religious insti/tutions outlawed atheists from the universities, or any teaching careers, besmirched their reputations, banned or burned their books or writing or any sort, drove them into exile, humilated them, seized the properties, arrested them for blasphemy, tortured them on lovely "Christian" devices like The Judas Cradle, disemboweled them, burned them at the stake, hung them etc. etc.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in."
      NIV Bible, Isaiah 40:22
      The Hebrew word used in the original text is "Chug", which means a flat circle, like a coin.
      The word for orb/ball is "Dur".
      The bible posits a flat Earth.
      It also referes to the four corners of the earth in several places like Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1 .
      It also appears that the concept of orbital rotation was unknown to those who wrote the Bible given that they state the earth is immovable and inert.
      "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved."
      – Psalm 104:5
      "The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved."
      Psalm 93:1
      "Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Psalm 96:10
      "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises." Ecclesiastes 1:5

      March 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Doc Vestibule : The bible posits a flat Earth.

      In my exchange with hawaiiguest, I showed that the Bible is referring to a sphere.

      Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters At the boundary of light and darkness.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @A Frayed Knot : What makes you think that these 4th century churchmen knew how to investigate the authorship of 300 year-old writings?

      What makes you think they waited 300 years to compile the canon? Compliation of the canon started before the Apostles were all dead. Later, Church leaders just used these lists to create a comprehensive list.

      @A Frayed Knot : There are many ancient Hebrew writings which the Jews claim came from "God" which were not included in this compilation by the early churchmen.

      But, they were written 150+ years after Christ.

      @A Frayed Knot : Here is a drawing of what the early Hebrews thought the Earth and the Universe looked like:

      In my exchange with hawaiiguest, I showed that the Bible is referring to a sphere.

      Job 26:10 He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters At the boundary of light and darkness.

      March 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That's just lame, Live4Him. Why would your God require you or anyone to go through the contortions you had to just to show us that his holy word might describe something that any child could describe with much greater clarity?

      March 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Lie4ever, why didn't you save us all time and just say that you have no empirical evidence. Because you don't.

      March 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Live

      Congrats, and you could spin that any number of ways. If the boundary was above a circle, then it would still be a circle. You still have not addressed that the verse listed above uses the word circle to describe the shape of the earth. Now can you actually address what's being talked about, or do you want to bring up more irrelevancies?

      March 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      "circle of the earth" explanation
      http://www.crivoice.org/circle.html
      Note the web site is Christian Resource Institute, so not just "some atheist link". I haven't researched this but the site seemed to have a good grasp on it.

      March 5, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  15. anthonyhantonh

    All this liberal anger at religion in general and Christianity in particular. I see your concern though. There can't be two true religions. Goverment and Christianity. Remember to genuflect when Obama hands our other people's money.

    March 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jimmy

      It's not being "liberal", it's being progressive that's at odds with thinking frozen in the bronze age. It's OK to be left-handed these days, you know?

      March 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Jimmy
      Who told you being left handed is OK?
      o GOD HATES LEFT HANDED PEOPLE
      You have a choice not to act on your wicked left-handedness and live a godly life!
      "A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left."
      – Ecclesiastes 10:2
      "The right hand of the lord doeth valiantly, the right hand of the lord is exalted."
      – Psalm 118 vv15,16
      Those of us who know and follow the true word of Christ will be laughing from up in heaven while you lefties fry forever.
      Better start using that right hand before Judgement day or you'll be sorry!

      March 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Yup, Doc. There are 25 verses critical of being left-handed in the Bible, far more than there are anti-gay verses. The devil and Judas were also supposed to be red-headed, so that's another thing to change before it's too late.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  16. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Ten hours???? Give us a break !!!

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    March 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Anthony Chelsea

      Hey reality! try to get out of your delusion and psyche meds and learn the ONLY reality:
      THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD.
      It is PERFECT, without contradiction and Science confirms it. Either you want or not, believe or not, you WILL be hold accountable for your actions when you die. You WILL have to answer to your creator: Jesus Christ, the God of the Old and new Testament.
      wake up

      March 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Anthony
      So bats are birds, plants existed before the sun, people lived to be a thousand years old, the entire human race can trace its lineage to 3 breeding pairs (all of the males being 1st order relatives), the earth is flat, and it is perfectly reasonable for a man to survive being trapped in an aquatic creature's digestive tract for a long weekend?

      March 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      March 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  17. God to Burnett

    "You're Fired."

    March 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  18. THE BROWN NOTE

    The History Channel is following the toilet flush down with The Learning Channel.

    First, they had well written programs. Then it started going south. Slowly with the reality shows. Then Ancient Aliens. Now the bible. I don't think it can get much worse than this. They're bound to end up bankrupt.

    March 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      As I posted below, that ignorant xstian money pays the bills as well as (or probably better than) the quality programming that they used to have, so they will NOT go bankrupt. There are many comments on here lamenting the deterioration of The History Channel programming, so I tried to get an email contact. I did get aefeedback@aenetworks.com from the "educational" page, so I'll write them, and let them know that I'm not watching another stupid bible show anymore than I would watch "Pawn Stars"
      Sad truth is, we're still in the minority, the "less than intellectual" shows like "Pawn Stars" and "The Bible" pay the bills better than the worthwhile shows that made the channel great to begin with, (if not anymore.)

      March 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      "The History Channel is following the toilet flush down with The Learning Channel." WELL PUT!! Our children are following the toilet flush down with their parents because of religion. I hope Bill Nye keeps on talking and teaching. Religion will be the downfall of The United States.

      March 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • JJ

      I know. I miss the days when the History channel aired shows about History, Learning channel aired shows about learning and MTV played music videos.

      March 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Someone

      It is too bad when they run out of shows about evolution because they ran out of "proof".

      March 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • JJ

      @Someone, you're their target audience now. They have dumbed down for you and your ilk.

      March 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      Unfortunately Someone, there is plenty of proof for evolution. Actual evidence. It's amazing.

      March 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • lol??

      Right Brown. That's what the Greeks said and how the wurld got Animal House.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Jimmy

      I think I watched Troy on the History Channel last year, so I guess this qualifies just as much.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  19. YBP

    Yikes. Did anyone see Episode 1? So violent. So mindless.

    They sure took some liberties with the storyline. How about that Ninja scene during the annihilation of Sodom? Complete with the slow-motion in-air turns, and a sword spinning in each hand. And that replaced the part when Lot offers his two daughters to the men outside to have their way with.

    I laughed out loud when the two angels were revealed to be black and Asian. After all, we all know how inclusive those people were back then. I laughed again when the angels made everyone's eyes bleed. Nice touch. And was that Jesus appearing in the role of Yahweh? How clever. Everyone knows that the Old Testament is really all about the Holy Trinity.

    Then the voice-over named Jacob, but only in passing, with no mention of his sons, for whom the Twelve Tribes are are named. I guess the producers were too anxious to get on with the good stuff. There's plenty of more violent scenes that they were more interested in filming.

    This show seems more like disturbing propaganda. It's full of comic book violence and simplified language. No plot. No lessons. No hidden meaning. Just fighting, blood and special effects.

    ChristianMingle and Catholics Come Home were big sponsors. That explains a lot. Plus they are trying to sell three different versions of a series-related book, as well as a phone/tablet app. Now we know why the producers consulted Olsteen. He (or is it she?) is all about marketing and promotion.

    Thanks to the History Channel for The Bible.

    Now everyone can tune in and see how cheap and second-rate religion is.

    March 4, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      "Thanks to the History Channel?" I used to like it. I still like Modern Marvels, and "How the Earth Was Made" but I'm a bit disappointed in them for doing this. Still, they have to make a buck. I agree with everything else you wrote, and ignorant xstian money pays the bills just as well (well better probably) than the wonderful programming they have shown in the past.
      RELIGION IS SO SAD

      March 4, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • lol??

      Darwin is sadder Budweiser than you can imagine.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Violent and mindless? Both are completely within the "spirit" of the Bible, just as the directors intended then. Let's see if they show the actual slaughter of babies, women, and the elderly as Joshua ethnic cleanses the Promised Land, which should open the next show.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  20. M. Bear, esq.

    Is there evil in the world? Yes, of course we can agree on that. The Bible says there will be evil because Lucifer is the "prince" of this world. Since Creation, he has been trying everything to get men to look away from God and seek other things. No wonder we have so many diversions to see and divided opinions to share. The Bible contains the information our Creator wanted us to know. Deny it all you want, there is but one way out of this world that does not lead to your eternal punishment...which is forever knowing you made the wrong choice. Described as being parched with no water to drink or painfully burning in a lake of fire, but not being consumed. Hell does not sound inviting to me.

    Personally, I know Angels exist. How? We had just moved into a double wide mobile home where the thin storm windows had been leaned against the back wall of a closet in the room we used for my little girl. She was about four years old and decided to stand on a toy to reach up for something she wanted on the shelf. She fell head first breaking every pane of glass...sharp thin shreds were everywhere. The laws of physics demand that a child falling forward breaking sheets of glass with her head is going to be cut. Most likely the glass, as she fell, would slice her throat. My wife and I ran to the sound of breaking glass. Our little girl was laying on her back, eyes wide and in front of the shattered glass panes. Not one scratch on her. She told us what she was doing and her Mom asked, "If you were leaning forward, how did you get on your back?" I will never forget this answer...she said, "The lady helped me Mommy".

    Skeptics will find a way to poke holes in my story, they will scoff and claim there is a natural explanation. I know God has guardian angels for His little ones. If this is true, then how can you say the Bible is not? If the Bible is true, then you have a serious decision to make.

    March 4, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      So sad to hear that you have procreated. Most religious people brainwash their children as they were brainwashed, and you don't even watch your child closely enough to prevent her from falling into broken glass. Do the kid a favor, educate her better than you were educated, and don't shove the religious drivel down her throat. Teaching children religion is a worse crime than child neglect and letting her fall through glass.

      March 4, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Yours IS a truly entertaining post. "THE LAWS OF PHYSICS" I love when xstians start talking about the "LAWS OF PHYSICS' (and say things like "Evolution is called "The Theory" of evolution......it's not proved.") Have you ever heard the saying "he saw stars" when someone hits their head? Have you ever seen the old Warner Bro.'s cartoons where there are little birds flying around the head of someone who just got smacked with a hammer? THAT"S the same as your daughter seeing "the lady."
      I'm glad the kid is LUCKY enough not to have been hurt, she didn't get lucky with having you as a parent.

      March 4, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Let's hear from a physicist, still quite respected lo these years after his death;

      “I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the
      structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.”
      _ Albert Einstein

      A man`s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
      Albert Einstein

      March 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      I happen to have a physics book with me. I keep it with me pretty much all the time. I haven't been able to find anything in it that states that it has in any way, or even angrily, demanded that a child be injured should it break some glass.

      I think you're confusing physics with the old testament.

      March 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • anthonyhantonh

      @ Neitodarwin. The government now start their brain washing in pre-school. Its amazing to see what they keep from parents.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Yup, if they can't get their grubby hands on God the Father they take it out on the fathers at home. Usurp his authority.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Jimmy

      "Evil" is relative. Some people see eating meat as evil, while others see those who don't support our beef farmers as evil. The world is not "black and white" anymore.

      March 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
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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.