• 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


    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Citation Guide

    I thought it would be useful to explain how and why I cite biblical references. It's a little complicated as, unless you're watching one of the films that are based solely on one gospel, filmmakers pick and choose from the differing accounts. Sometimes they harmonise the different gospels' unique perspective on a story, sometimes they clearly choose one over the others. In addition to this I don't have the time when watching these films to flip through a bible comparing gospels, whilst taking in the film at the same time - particularly if it's my first viewing. I may - in time - re-visit some of these films with a scene guide in front of me complete with references for the different version or something, but that's certainly not for now. Offer me a book deal, however, and I'll be only too willing to oblige!

    So anyway, where I cite bible references they are only a guide. Where an episode exists in two or all of the synoptic gospels I'll tend to cite it from Mark even if the filmed version corresponds a little more closely with Matthew or Luke. I'm confident enough that Mark is the earliest gospel to feel that this is an acceptable convention. However, if I know that an episode is based on a specific gospel then I'll cite that.

    If the story is in both Luke and Matthew, but not in Mark, then, I'll usually cite it from Matthew - again unless I know better. For what it's worth there are two reasons for this, firstly, because being named after that gospel has always given me an affinity for it, but primarily it's because I'm enough of a Q sceptic to think Luke may have used Matthew as a source. (Normally stories common to Matthew and Luke, which aren't in Mark are said to derive from Q - a hypothetical common source many scholars like to posit actually existed, but is now lost. For more on this see Mark Goodacre's "Case Against Q" site).

    Stories from John are a bit easier as they tend to be unique to his gospel. However, on the rare occasions John shares stories with the "synoptic" gospels (Matthew , Mark and Luke), again, I'll tend to cite Mark unless it's obviously based on one of the others.

    Episodes not found in the Bible, or another recognised ancient text, are designated as extra-biblical episodes (EBE). More recently I've described these as well as noting their existence.

    OK - it's a bit messy, and my apologies for that, but I'm on a tight time scale here, and even withh all the time in the world it's not 100% obvious with some episodes. By the way, thanks to Bible Gateway and Five Gospel Parallels for making this task a lot easier.

    A superior version of these guides is available for 18 of the major Jesus films in Staley and Walsh's "Jesus, the Gospels, and Cinematic Imagination"

    (Last updated 6th May 2011)



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