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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).