• 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

    More Episodes from The Living Christ Series

    A while ago, I back-posted some thoughts on the first few episodes of The Living Christ Series (1951). I've been meaning to post some thoughts on some of the other episodes, but I lost my (very rough) notes and only after frantically searching the whole house did I manage to recover them. (FWIW I still haven't found my notes on the first three episodes - I'm not even sure anymore whether I made any...)

    (By the way, you may find it useful to read my citation policy guide)

    Episode 8
    Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
    I am the Resurrection (John 11:24-27)
    Saying About Living Water (John 7:37-38)
    Man Born Blind (John 9)
    Sending the 12 (Mark 6:7-13)

    Episode 9
    John the Baptist's Question (Matt 11:1-19)
    Sending of the 72 (Luke 10)
    Parable of the Dragnet (Matt 13:47-52)
    The Plot against John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-20)
    John's testimony about Jesus (John 3:27-30)
    Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:21-29)
    Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10)

    Episode 10
    Peter's Confession of Christ (Mark 8:27-30)
    Cost of discipleship (Mark 8:34-38)
    The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8)
    Healing of a Boy with a Spirit (Mark 9:14-32)
    Faith as Small as a Mustard Seed (Matt 17:20-21)
    Rich Young Man [end only] (Mark 10:21-25)
    The Children and Jesus (Mark 10:13-15)
    Who is the Greatest (Mark 10:35-45)
    Raising of Lazarus (John 11)
    Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:1-11)

    A few notes:
    It's interesting how late this version of the story leaves the death of John. In Mark's Gospel it is in the 6th chapter of 16 - only about a third of the way through. Here it appears in th 9th chapter of 12 - about two thirds of the way through. Admittedly the writers have jumped around the synoptic timescale a little, but even by this late stage most of the story is from fairly early on.

    Episodes 9 & 10 are the most "action packed" of the 12, with numerous individual incidents popping up. I like the way this communicates a sense of action, urgency, acheivement and popularity on the part of Jesus, it gives a sense that things are hotting up.

    It becomes clear as we are now this far through that the plot framework is mainly derived from Mark (and by defintion the two other synoptics), rather than on John. I noted when looking at episode 7 that that particular episode was largely incidents reported only in John. Seen in context we can see that this continues well into Episode 8, but also that these stories really just form a parenthesis from the main story. Once the brief diversion into John is over we are back into Mark's story line, and there is only one more incident from John's gospel before the passion narratives - the obligatory raising of Lazarus.

    I think this is the only film to show both the sending of the 12 and of the 72. I should perhaps qualify this by saying that it was a while since I watched these two episodes, and it's not clear from my writing whether I have (as I assume) written "sending of the 12" twice or whether the second one is "sending of the 72). Excellent professionalism there.

    The Transfiguration is quite a rare episode in Jesus films. Aside from those films which are based on a complete gospel (e.g. Visual Bible's Matthew) this only appears in The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ and Jesus (1979) - the latter of which is cut from a film of the whole gospel of Luke anyway. I have a nagging doubt that there's one more, but unless it's The Revolutionary, then I'm stumped.

    Finally it's interesting that the major share of the story of the Rich Young Man is missing. This for me is one of the most challenging passages in scripture, and so I always smell a rat when it's tampered with. I wonder who's decision this was to expunge the part where Jesus tells him to go and sell all he has to the poor?




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