Bible Movies Meme

I’ve been reading a few of the responses to this Bible movie meme, and my Twitter friend Carmen said that she would be interested to see my response.  The meme requires that you list your favorite three Bible movies and one that you would like to see made.  This reveals more about the person writing the post obviously than really about Bible movies.  I thought this would be interesting, so here goes:

  1. The Passion of the Christ – Mel Gibson and charges of antisemitism aside this movie makes the list for one primary reason.  It is in Aramaic, and that is very cool.  When I tell people that I have studied Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic the first question many of them ask is “So, can you understand what they’re saying in the Passion of the Christ?”  And, my answer is “Some of it.” They may then say something like “Cool,” or “That’s awesome.” And, that makes me feel special.  What does this reveal about me?  I suppose it just goes to show that I can be a very shallow person.
  2. The Ten Commandments – I love this movie because I went to Catholic school for a number of years.  And, I can remember this movie being a break from regular class at some point in almost every year of my academic career.  What does this reveal about me?  It is not that I did not like religion class or that I did not have good teachers. I think it is just that I, like everyone else, need a break every now and again.  Even from religion class.
  3. Finally, I like anything VeggieTales – This one is maybe the most difficult to explain.  I’m not really that into VeggieTales.  It is just that they serve as an illustration to me.  As much as people say that they believe the Bible literally to be true and every word of it to be the word of God, when it comes down to brass tacks, they usually take out the bad parts when they present the stories to children.  And, rightfully so.  But, I can always ask my friends, “If the Bible stories themselves are literal truth, then why do you have your kids watch the VeggieTales versions?  Why not just make a real accurate cartoon depiction for them?  I mean you do want them to see the real, ‘true’ story, don’t you?  Why not make a flood cartoon where Noah looks out the ark to see all the baby and toddler corpses?”  Turns out that in practice most people do treat it like a story after all, though they would never claim to do so in theory.  Anyway …

Finally, what Bible movie would I like to see made?  Well, this one is along the lines of the previous statements about VeggieTales (you might be able to tell that this is a soap box for me).  I would like to see someone make a literal depiction of the Book of Joshua.  It is one thing to defend a text in which the characters apparently go in and slaughter whole cities of people – man, woman, and child.  But, it would be quite another thing to watch a movie version in which an Israelite runs a baby through with a sword.  I think such a movie might do a great deal to stem some of the fundamentalism that prevails in our time.  Of course, this might also be damaging to the faith of some, but I think it would be most valuable in opening up doors for a dialogue with more moderate to liberal views of scripture in which depictions of God are open to critique.  People might eventually learn that if one reads the Book of Joshua alongside the Book of Judges, that the Book of Joshua like the flood narrative is also a story (this is not to say Judges is a completely accurate historical description either, but it does serve to balance the story in Joshua).


  • guh! now i’m really paranoid about what *my* movie choices reveal about *me*, heh.

    on another personal tangent (sorry to hijack your comments section with my personal reflections, heh), i am reading to my kids a graphic novel version of the bible at night; when we got to the story of Noah, one of the frames showed an old woman drowning. i must admit, it’s an interesting quandry to go through, wondering if you should sugar coat parts of the Story for your kids; whether you take those parts of the Story as myth or literal (or somewhere in between), i think you still have to deal with the implied details of them. so what do you do with kids? as for me, i believe the bible (among other things) communicates the truth by which we see everything else–and the way the parts of the larger Story are told are important; if we change them, we change their meaning. i get so dang irritated when i hear stories like that of Samson or Gideon (even Abraham and Jacob who make such stupid choices) made out like they are spotless heroes; i get why folks do that, but we lose so much of what is being taught; perhaps we even teach the wrong thing as a result. i came to the conclusion that my kids need to know the stories for what they are, and if i teach those stories to them in the context of the larger Story (which i’ve come to conclude is a love story), i think they’ll be able to handle it all. heh, but then, i make my own stupid mistakes–and i just hope this is not one of them.

    that’s not say, heh, that i dislike Veggie Tales. while they can be guilty of the kind of sugar coating and simplifying that irritates me, i find a value in retelling a story out of its normal setting/hearing; if done well, it gets at an aspect of the story that we didn’t see before.

    okay, you can have your comments section back now :)

    • Carmen,

      You can have my comments section anytime you like. I suppose my problem is from the other end of the spectrum. I spend a great deal of time emphasizing that much of the Bible consists of stories (though I do stress that these stories communicate important truths) and that the Bible is open to critique (I believe there is a precedent for this within the Bible itself). Yet I fear that by prefacing many texts with these thoughts I will cause my children to wonder why they should believe any of it at all. I hope that I will provide my children with a way to deal with those issues. As parents, we do the best we can. What I don’t think is helpful if what I see a lot people do. They give their kids the Veggie Tales version and then they leave it alone. Then, their kids pick up a Bible later in life only to say “Wow. I didn’t know that was in there.”