• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    First Few Episodes of The Living Christ Series

    Since The Living Christ Series is about 6 hours long, and comes in half hour episodes, I'm going to post my thoughts a few episodes at a time, rather than wait until I've waded through the whole thing and publish a mega-post listing all my thoughts on the series in one go.

    I decided to save the birth narratives from the start. I rarely get much out of them in the various films, and this one looked like it might be incredibly kitsch, so I'll come back to those later. First the contents (Bible references are only a guide - where an episode exists in two or all of the synoptics I'll tend to cite it from Mark even if the filmed version actually corresponds more closely with Matthew or Luke):

    Episode 4
    Temptation (Matt 4:1-11)
    Jesus Drives Out an Evil Spirit (Mark 1:21-28)
    *Peter's Mother in Law Healed (Matt 8:14-15)
    †Healing of a Lame Girl (No specific passage)

    Episode 5
    Calling of the 12 (Mark 3:13-17)
    Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12)
    Salt and Light (Matt 5:13-16)
    Satan Cannot Cast out Satan (Mark 3:20-30)
    Prayer like a Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8)
    Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:1-4)

    Episode 6
    Turn the Other Cheek (Matt 5:38-42)
    Love your Enemies (Matt 5:43-47)
    Question from John the Baptist (Matt 1:1-5)
    Widow of Nain's Son (Luke 7:11-17)
    Calling of Matthew (Mark 2:13-17)
    Healing of a Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12)

    Episode 7
    Centurion's Servant (Matt 8:5-13)
    Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)
    Gospel Manifesto (Luke 4:18-19)
    Nicodemus Visits Jesus (John 3:1-21)
    Woman of Samaria (John 4:4-29)
    Light on a Stand (Mark 4:21-22)
    Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

    A few thoughts:
    *In my original notes I had bracketed this event, and I can't remember how this episode was depicted. This is a shame as this event is rarely shown in Jesus films. In fact off the top of my head I can't think of another one that does.

    †Scipture only recalls the healing of one lame person specifically; the man that was healed in the pool of Bethsaida, and even then it is unclear whether he was simply lame or closer to paralysed. It also only records the healing of one girl - Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:21-43). However, the gospels note Jesus healing "the lame" (in general) a number of times, and several films have used this to invent a specific healing story, (for example the Roger Young's Jesus mini-series).

    It's interesting how episodes 4-6 are solely based on the synoptics, whereas episode 7 is largely John. In particular the wedding at Cana is usually thought to be the start of Jesus's ministry (due to Jesus saying his time has not yet come in John 2:4), but here it appears more than halfway through. I know many people were impressed at how Jesus of Nazareth blended John's gospel with the synoptics, but introducing events specific to John later in the story so that Jesus' secrecy over his identity was no contradictory so much as sequential. That film missed out the wedding at Cana althogether though.

    Finally the Widow of Nain's son is another largely ignored miracle, only From the Manager to the Cross and the 1979 Jesus film cover this. Jairus' daughter is far more popular, possibly as it's a rare opportunity to bring a girl into the action (the only two people called a "girl" in the gospels discuss are Jairus's daughter and Salome). The raising of Lazarus occurs in most Jesus films, and usually functions as a turning point in the action,


    N.B. - This post was back-dated to when it first occurred - i.e. it's not a true blog post!



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