The History Channel reports that the premiere of The Bible drew 14.8 million viewers on Sunday, March 4. [CBN] This was the first of five episodes to be broadcast on consecutive Sunday nights in March.
Producers of the series are actress Roma Downey, best remembered from Touched by an Angel and her husband producer Mark Burnett, known for Survivor and The Amazing Race.
Nancy Dubuc, president of A&E Networks said “The success of The Bible has catapulted History into one of the most powerful brands across media landscape and we could not be more thrilled and more proud. Clearly there is a nationwide groundswell that was waiting for this moment … An enormous debt of gratitude goes out to everyone and the amazing effort put forth to drive us to this amazing win. Clearly the passion for this project has resonated with our viewers and across the nation. We are thrilled, and the story is only just beginning.”
Reviews of the program are mixed.
Writing in The Christian Post, Geoff Tunnicliffe says:
Burnett and his wife have produced a mini-series that is not only "not disappointing," but actually rises to the top of the "Wow" scale. Attempting to take on the whole Bible in 10 hours is pretty much an impossible task for just about anyone, but apparently not for the Burnetts. They really have produced something of epic proportions.
And it is true that taking the whole of the Scripture, editing it down to 10 hours of video (plus commercials) is a daunting task. With any book translated to film, there are always necessary edits. The work is also visually stunning.
But, what of the Biblical inaccuracies?
Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times writes:
By taking on the entire Bible, even at 10 hours in length, Mr. Burnett and Ms. Downey force themselves into a clumsy “Bible’s greatest hits” approach.
This doesn’t serve the source material — so rich in interconnections across time — very well, and it doesn’t make for very involving television. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel and the other great biblical figures aren’t really developed in a way that illuminates them or makes them linger in our minds; they are simply called forth to perform a set piece or two. It’s like a trip through a Christian theme park. “Next stop on the tour, ladies and gentlemen: the Noah’s ark tableau, followed by the Daniel in the lion’s den diorama.”
Dr. Lawson Stone, Old Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary writes:
So…how was it? I confess here at the start, I was disappointed. I expected a production of much richer texture than what we got. The general look of the production was, to use a scholarly term, “cheesy.” That was distressing. But more puzzling to me were some serious errors in the story itself, especially given the PR that this was so heavily researched.
Ben Witherington says:
My own evaluation thus far is: 1) the beginning with Noah and the ark and the flash back to creation was pretty weak, and involved too much obvious CG; 2) Abraham as a character and the lengthy sequence with his stories was better; and 3) the Moses sequence was about as good. We were left with the song ‘Joshua fit the battle of Jericho….’ in our heads as we await the next episode. And finally… the music could have been much much better (see for example the music for the Gospel of John, or even the Nativity).