After being exiled and invaded time and again, the nation of Israel longed for the long-awaited Messiah Who would save them from their troubles. Yet when the Messiah appeared, few even acknowledged His coming and some tried to thwart His birth. As Jesus grew, He began His earthly ministry, choosing His followers from the least expected places. Even still, many ignored His deity and others tried to undermine His work. But He loved every person equally and demonstrated His power through miracles and authoritative teaching. In the end, Jesus gave Himself up, taking on the sins of the world and dying with them so that the price would be paid for all who would accept it. After raising from the dead, Jesus instilled new hope in His followers and commanded them to take the message to the ends of the earth. Today, we still feel the effects of His earthly ministry as we have the great privilege to take part in His continuing work.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
For the most part, money is once again well spent when it comes to production in The Bible New Testament episodes. Sets and locations are mostly authentic and costuming is historically realistic. The surroundings are overall a plus, setting new standards for Bible entertainment. The camera work is excellent in all aspects. The musical score is pretty good, but there are some unnecessary sound effects throughout. CGI is overused to cut corners. But the biggest detractor of this series’ production is the editing. This aspect does not improve in the New Testament, and is actually worse since less time is covered. Even when the show finally sticks with the same cast of characters and surroundings, the editing is just as choppy as before. Mark Burnett and company put on a good show on the surface, but this series’ beauty is only skin deep.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)
The final six episodes of The Bible are painful to watch. As previously discussed in Son of God, there are many glaring errors. The characters are lofty and inaccessible—dialogue is wasted and seems robotic. Huge creative license is taken to the point of inserting useless historical events in order to fill time. Rather than develop the characters, sensationalism and violence eat away at the runtime. Jesus is portrayed as a lofty zen master who disturbingly becomes surprised when things happen or when he ‘sees’ something that’s going to happen. The disciples are like cardboard cutouts, even beyond the scope of Jesus’ earthly ministry. I’m all for highlighting the role of women in Jesus’ earthly ministry, but Mary Magdalene is given far too much screen time, stealing lines from the disciples and defying historic events. We don’t even get to hear or see her backstory—she just appears as some kind of repeater for Jesus. Other historical inaccuracies crop up as well, including altered versions of Biblical accounts. As mentioned in Son of God, this entire series was written for a few well-crafted scenes, including the calling of Levi\Matthew, the adulterous woman being brought to Jesus, and the torture\crucifixion sequence that holds elements very similar to that of The Passion of the Christ. The final episode is perhaps the most painful as viewers are strapped in for a maddening ride through the rest of the New Testament, hopping from one high point to another in a matter of minutes. To reiterate, with less historical scope to cover in the same amount of time as the Old Testament, the New Testament episodes should have been better—they were actually worse. It all makes for a disappointing end to a series that otherwise had a great idea.
Acting Quality (1 point)
The acting quality also significantly diminishes in the New Testament, while keeping up with previous errors, such as the cardinal sin of Bible entertainment once again—the overuse of British and Caucasian actors and actresses. Line delivery is lazy throughout the New Testament and real emotions are either nonexistent or over the top. Actors and actresses are given more screen time in the New Testament, but it doesn’t help. Coaching was definitely needed.
Continuity Quality (1.5 points)
The overall continuity of the New Testament is slightly more seamless than the Old Testament, but it still fails to deliver a driving purpose to the audience. Overarching first century Judaic themes exist, such as the anticipation of the Messiah, the Roman oppression, and the religious system, but there is little else noticeable. What is missing is the connection of Jesus to prophecy and Old Testament events, and the theme of forgiveness of sins only through Him. Jesus is portrayed more as a community organizer disrupting a religious system than the Son of God.
As The Bible came to a close, a lot of things were left undone. Millions of Americans watched this series, and we can’t help but feel that they were cheated of knowing what the real Bible truly contains. Besides the gritty feel of the series, there is little that can cause viewers to feel connected to the characters and the struggles they went through. If there ever was a time that Americans (including those who claim the name of Christ) needed to know what is actually in the Bible and how real it actually is, it is now. The Bible promised to do this, but it did not deliver. It’s no wonder that co-producer Roma Downey said afterward that they weren’t concerned with historical accuracy as much as they were concerned with making an emotional connection. Yet in this ill-advised quest, true emotional connection was never made because viewers are still left wondering if they can ever be like those seemingly inaccessible characters from Bible times. The people of the Bible were just like the people of today, yet Burnett and Downey portrayed them otherwise. In doing so, their mission failed.
Final Rating: 5 out of 14 points