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Series / The Bible (2013)

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The Bible was a live-action miniseries presented in 2013 by The History Channel. Two of the executive producers are Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) and his wife Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel). It's a dramatization of some key stories from, well, The Bible, both the Jewish and Christian parts. It doesn't try to cover everything, just aiming for the broad sweep and a few key stories.

The series had five episodes:

  • "Beginnings": Opens with a brief sequence of Noah and his family on the Ark (with Noah telling his family about the creation of the universe). The main stories are:
    • Abraham's call, his two children, and the sacrifice of Isaac
    • The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
    • Moses bringing the Jews out of Egypt
  • "Homeland": Israel's conquest of the Holy Land. The main stories are:
    • The destruction of Jericho
    • Samson and Delilah
    • Saul's rise and fall, and David's rise
    • David's affair with Bathsheba and the consequences
  • "Hope": Bridges the Old and New Testaments. The main stories are:
    • Judea's fall to Babylon, and events in exile (Daniel in the lions' den, the three Israelites in the "fiery furnace")
    • Jesus's conception and birth
    • The beginnings of Jesus's ministry, and John the Baptist's arrest and execution
  • "Mission": The life and ministry of Jesus. Covers:
    • Jesus's preaching and miracles
    • The Last Supper, Judas iscariot's betrayal, Jesus's arrest
    • Jesus tried and condemned to death
  • "Passion": Wraps it all up in a bow. Covers:
    • Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection
    • The early church, and Paul's conversion and mission
    • The Revelation to the Apostle John of the end of the world

Thanks to the success of the TV series, a Compilation Movie was released in 2014: Son of God, focusing on the Jesus bits of the TV show expanded to include deleted scenes that never made it to broadcast. A follow-up series, AD: The Bible Continues, premiered in 2015.

This show provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Pharaoh fancies himself as such (which is Truth in Television as the Ancient Egyptians believed those of royal blood were descended from their gods). Moses says otherwise and God proves it.
    Moses: You are no God. You are just a man.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Bible is a long book. The show is done in 10 hours, with commercials. Do the math.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Saul (Paul) incites a crowd to stone Stephen to death and throws the first stones, instead of just watching and guarding the cloaks of the people doing the stoning.
  • Adipose Rex: Herod Antipas is hugely fat and beardless, not the way he's usually shown. It makes him come across as something like a eunuch. It's similar to the Herod in the 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Passion of the Christ.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The plight of Israel under the brutal, conquering Babylon is solved when Babylon is itself conquered by the even more powerful, but more lenient, Persian Empire.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Nathan's condemnation of David's secret betrayal of Uriah only gets the king angry and defensive until Nathan confronts him with who really has the power in this kingdom. David's arrogance immediately melts into dread.
    Nathan: You think God doesn't see everything?
  • Badass Cape: The angels rock red cloaks whenever they show up.
  • Bald of Evil: The Pharoah. There is a degree of Truth in Television; males in Ancient Egypt often shaved their heads except for a single plait of hair.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Pontius Pilate, the Roman who oversees the trial and sentencing of Jesus to be crucified, notes "he's hardly the first Jew we've killed. He'll be forgotten in a week."
  • Dies Wide Open: When Stephen died from being stoned, he died with his eyes open.
  • Dreadlock Rasta:
    • John the Baptist has dreads, appropriate as he is a wild mystic who lives off in the desert.
    • Samson, unusually, combines this with Dreadlock Warrior. As a Nazarite, he has untrimmed, matted hair as a symbol of devotion to God. But he also kicks Philistine butt. When he loses the dreads, he can't fight.
  • Dual Wielding: One of the angels who visits Sodom pulls out two swords from his holsters and uses them to cut down the men of Sodom in order to provide Lot and his family a means of escape.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • The Pharaoh of Exodus.
    Moses: Let my people go!
    • Herod the Great doesn't hold back much, either.
    • When Saul/Paul is still a bad guy, he leaves no scenery unchewed.
    Saul: (to Jesus) IT CAN'T BE! YOU'RE DEEEEAAAAD!
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Pharaoh of Exodus is shown to be a loving father to his son. When his son is killed the episode heavily implies that his attempt to recapture the Hebrews is to avenge him.
  • Foreshadowing: Several examples. One example is the continual sparring fights between Moses and Pharaoh's biological son, which represents Moses' later struggle against Pharaoh to see his people freed. As further foreshadowing, Moses has been winning the sparring matches.
  • Get Out!: Ramses to Moses after his son dies: "GO! AND LEAVE MY LAND! AND TAKE YOUR WRETCHED GOD WITH YOU!"
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Averted with Pilate, who is portrayed being as tyrannical as Josephus (who didn't like him very much) and Philo (who hated his guts) described him in their memoirs, in an aversion of the usual somewhat more sympathetic Gospel portrayal. However, he's still a bit of a Punch-Clock Villain who sees Jesus as just another delusional worshiper, and he only goes to the extent of crucifying Jesus on the pressure of the priests, who obviously annoy him as they do so.
  • Irony: When Pilate's wife is upset about the death of Jesus, Pilate mutters, "He'll be forgotten in a week."
  • Ironic Name: Acknowledged when Babylon sends its army to sack and burn Jerusalem.
    Nebuchadnezzar: (to his charioteer) You know what "Jerusalem" means? "City of peace!" (both laugh)
  • I Warned You: The kings of Israel tend not to listen to the warnings of God's prophets, and boy, does it cost them. Pharaoh gets the same.
    • Jeremiah tells Zedekiah that surrendering to the Babylonians is the best course of action, as it would spare his life and those of his children and of Jerusalem. Of course, Zedekiah does not listen and Jerusalem is burned to the ground, its people enslaved, and Zedekiah is blinded in both eyes; the last thing he sees is his children being executed.
    • Before that, King Saul disobeys God by not following His orders as given to him by Samuel, thus paving the way for David to take over as king.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: John the Baptist is beheaded while haranguing Herod Antipas about the Messiah.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Once the Babylonians find out that Cyrus and the Persians are at their doorstep, they do the smart thing and surrender without a fight.
  • Large Ham: Pharaoh does a lot of shouting.
  • The Last Thing You Ever See: Played straight with both Samson (the last thing he sees is a bribe dumped into Delilah's lap) and King Zedekiah (the last thing he sees is his sons' throats being cut). Then, in both cases, the man who says it puts out the prisoner's eyes with his thumbs. (The blinding comes from The Bible. The taunt, and doing it with thumbs, comes straight from this show.)
  • One-Steve Limit: Some names were very popular among first-century Jews (and, thus, in the New Testament). The show avoids this as much as possible:
    • Of the 12 Apostles, there were two named Judas, two James, and two Simon (In each case, one was much more famous than the other). The show never mentions the less-famous ones by name.
    • Besides his mother, Jesus had several friends or disciples named Mary: Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (possibly the same as the Magdalene), Mary the mother of James. Only Mary Magdalene is named (she also functions as a Composite Character for all of Jesus's female disciples).
    • Joseph of Arimathea is rarely referred to by name, perhaps to avoid confusion with Joseph the husband of Mary.
    • Several different Herods played roles in the life of Jesus; the show depicts only two, non-overlapping ones (Herod the Great at Jesus's birth, Herod Antipas ordering the death of John the Baptist).
  • Pietà Plagiarism: When Jesus is brought down from the cross, the scene is staged to match the classic depictions.
  • Race Lift:
    • While most Israelites look stereotypically middle-eastern (brown hair, olive skin), Samson and his mother are black.
    • Angels are presented in a variety of races. This is justified in that angels don't really have bodies in the Bible, and they look however they want to look for the job at hand.
    • Jesus, however, looks incredibly Caucasian, thought He may have a tan. It's hard to tell with the lighting.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: The two angels who are sent to rescue Lot and his family are addressed as "lords" by Abraham and they are quite proficient with swords.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most of the kings (Israelite and otherwise) lead their nations in battle. In many cases this comes straight from the source material (Saul, David, Pharaoh, Agag of the Amalekites), but sometimes the show plays it up (Nebuchadnezzar riding a chariot at the head of his army to attack Jerusalem).
  • Say My Name: Ramses shouts "MOSES!" twice on two separate occasions.
  • Scary Black Man: Samson, played by Nonso Anozie, is an enormous black man who effortlessly annihilates any Philistine that comes at him.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Moses gets one between the time he flees Egypt into the wilderness (at 40) to the time when God calls him to His presence with the burning bush (at 80).

Alternative Title(s): The Bible