Friday, March 1, 2013

Bible Viewing Parties?

Just when you think you've seen everything, somebody comes up with an idea like...well...enacting the Bible, apparently these people intend to dramatize the whole Bible, as a video series. And marketing it online at

From the viewpoint of staging, this is a very interesting idea. Theatre has always demanded that actors be able to fake rapes and murders without anyone being hurt, but some of the slayings in the Bible seem harder to fake than others.

Then there's the challenge of keeping people awake during the genealogies, of conveying to TV audiences how vital genealogy was...because, in a truly biblical socioeconomic system, land has been divided among families, and the law requires that land ownership revert to the heirs of the original family, if any, every fifty years. I'm not sure whether we could ever agree on a way to do that but we do need to understand that it was how property was managed in Bible days. And it is one of the hot potatoes most Christians are afraid to touch; so much so that many people who are very familiar with certain selected parts of the Bible, like the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, don't realize that property law is in there too. (Agenda 21 is anti-Bible.)

Then there are the implications some people want to read into the Bible and others don't see there. Some of these implications are currently trendy. The Bible warmly supports same-sex friendship, and unto this day the cultures in the "Bible Lands" tend to encourage same-sex friends to hug and kiss in public. The Bible contains at least two pairs of same-sex friends who were especially intense. David publicly proclaimed that the love between himself and Jonathan "was wonderful, passing the love of women," although both young men were married and had children. Ruth's poem, or song, about "whither thou goest I will go," was directed to Naomi, her mother-in-law, although Ruth later remarried and had children. These are two of the most admirable characters in the Bible and although it seems clear that neither was homosexual, many people would like to imagine that they might have had bisexual tendencies. I think, and I'll admit that this is based on the personal experience for which I'm physically "wired," that this idea is deplorable and disgusting--that when gifted, passionate people work well together and feel synergy, we feel equally intense and committed love, perhaps more intense or committed love, than we feel when there's only a physical attraction. Others think, based on their experience perhaps, that there had to have been some physical attraction between David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi. It's always interesting to see how someone who wants to reenact a Bible story deals with this kind of controversy.

Then there are the less trendy controversies from years gone by...what physical type should be cast as Jesus? Perhaps the most important thing to know about this is that people who knew Jesus well didn't tell us one word about his physical type. He could have had blue eyes. Then again, a prophecy that's often read as a prophecy of Jesus mentions that the individual prophesied would have woolly hair. Not wavy, but woolly. If that prophecy is about Jesus, we need to rethink our cultural expectation that He should be played by a Caucasian. Many artists painting or sculpting images of Jesus have worked from models who had smooth, straight Caucasian-type hair, but that doesn't mean He did.

And an oldie that's still controversial...we know that John the Baptist was not the organizer of any group currently known as Baptists, but how, exactly, did he baptize people? Biblical Greek has two words for washing things in water; the one from which we get our word "baptize," baptizo, implies dipping, dunking, and sloshing about under water. The "Bible lands" have a hot climate in which baptism by immersion was safe and probably felt good. As Christianity moved north, fear of chilling motivated Christians to substitute pouring and sprinkling rituals, which, as Baptists like to point out, ought to be called rhantism rather than baptism. Directors of "Jesus movies" have handled baptism scenes in a variety of ways. Remembering that the Jordan is a fairly small river, they've had actors wade out into knee-deep water and splash water on each other's heads as a sort of compromise between modern churches that dunk, pour, or sprinkle.

These are only a few of the reasons for which real Bible Mavens will probably enjoy watching any attempt to reenact any part of the Bible...and if the folks at have really tried to reenact the whole thing, that should be good for a lot of parties.

I will not be hosting one since I don't have, or plan to have, a DVD viewer. Local lurkers who have DVD viewers are, however, welcome to invite me to their parties. And whenever Cornerstone Communications is able to open our downtown computer center, we'll definitely offer Bible Parties.