I love that Jackson is writing on the History Channel’s The Bible, and I agree that the production is leaden and the dramatic licenses taken are neither good ideas nor particularly effective. But — by the way of very respectful discourse, not strong criticism of Jackson’s thoughtful column — I think Jackson is too tough on its producers, especially on their motives. Also,I think the word “hypocrite” to describe them is particularly too strong. I think their thinking is fuzzy, but I think there intentions were entirely laudable. I’ve read interviews with Roma Downey on this, and followed her career in general, and I have been struck by how sincere she is and how laudable her goals seem to be. She clearly is a person of deep faith and of a good heart. Just the other day, meanwhile, she and her husband had a wonderful column in the Wall Street Journal that is almost entirely on target, entitled “Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible.” Here’s part of it:
We’re talking about knowledge. The foundations of knowledge of the ancient world—which informs the understanding of the modern world—are biblical in origin. Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president known more as a cigar-chomping Rough Rider than a hymn-signing Bible-thumper, once said: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”
It would be the same thing, we believe, to deny America’s sons and daughters the benefits of an education that includes a study of the Bible.
In all, The Bible seems to be a labor of love that, at least in its first installment, failed to achieve lift-off. As a piece of art, it doesn’t really succeed, and Jackson is right that the explanations offered by the producers for their choices aren’t those that a lot of us would agree with. But I think all believers should applaud their overall intentions, and hope they succeed better in future endeavors.