• 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


    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Living Bible - Episodes 5 & 6 (UK version)

    (This post is part of a continuing series on the UK release of The Living Bible -See all posts)

    After the unusual episode arrangement in parts 3 and 4, the series fits back into a more recognisable chronology for the next two parts covering the following episodes (citation method)
    Episode 5 - First Disciples
    Jesus in the Wilderness - (Mark 1:13)
    Jesus and John's disciples - (John 1:29-39)
    Call of Simon Peter - (John 1:40-42)
    Jesus Calls Philip - (John 1:43-44)
    Jesus Calls Nathanael - (John 1:45-51)

    Episode 6 - Jesus at Nazareth and Capernaum
    Jesus in Jerusalem - (John 2:23)
    Jesus in Galilee - (Mark 1:14-15)
    Jesus Heals a Nobleman's Son - (John 4:46-54)
    Rejection at Nazareth - (Luke 4:16-30, Mark 6:4)
    Jesus goes to Capernaum - (Matt 4:13-16)
    The harmonising approach used by the makers of this film runs into some difficulty in these episodes. Firstly, Jesus's contact with John the Baptist is markedly different in the fourth gospel compared to the other three. In John, Jesus is not baptised by his cousin. The Baptist simply points him out to his own followers, with the result that some of them instantly leave John to follow this new, and by implication greater, leader. John's gospel also omits the temptation in the desert.

    To overcome this, Episode 5 starts with Jesus leaving the desert after his temptation, and it is then that John makes the famous announcement "Look, the Lamb of God". It also omits verses 31-32 of chapter 1 where John the Baptist repeats the words heard in the Synoptics immediately after Jesus emerges from the water.

    It should also be noted that in the US DVD release these incidents are handled even more curiously. Firstly, the baptism is included, but John's hair and beard are different. Then the "Behold the Lamb of God" scene is shown, but it is totally different, being filmed in a different location with more extensive dialogue, with John looking the same as in the baptism scene (all US episode 2). Finally, the third episode opens showing this incident again, only this time it is the same as the UK version being discussed here.

    These episodes also come up against some of the ways the Synoptics and John differ. Both the numbers of trips Jesus makes to Jerusalem (three in John, just one in the others) and the way the disciples are called varies between the four gospels. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus first calls Peter and Andrew as they are by the Sea, and then soon after calls James and John. In the fourth gospel, John the Baptist encourages Andrew and an unnamed disciple to follow Jesus, and Andrew introduces Peter. Shortly after the numbers are brought up to five when Philip and Nathanael join.

    Here the series prefers John over the Synoptics. James remains absent, although the unamed disciple is here identified as John. Episode 6 then starts in Jerusalem with a reference to Jesus having just cleared the temple. He then returns to Cana and Galilee. The script does well here to harmonise the different accounts although it does omit the wedding at Cana.

    The Living Bible also departs from the majority of Jesus films over the healing of the official's son. Most films tend to depict this based on either Matt 8:5-13, or Luke 7:1-10, with the "official" also being a centurion. This ties in with the Rome vs the Jews subplot of many Jesus biopics. Here, however, the Johannine version of the story is prefered whereby the official is a nobleman, and it is his son that is critically ill. Many would, of course, hold that these are two different, albeit similar, events, and indeed this film may prove to take that path as well. That said, the similarities are striking, and the differences fairly minor, and could be explainned away by the differing concerns of the authors.

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    • At 9:35 am, December 15, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I will speak about the unamed disciple in
      this series. In the Living Bible he's John,
      and in Jesus of Nazareth that's Filip. Could
      it be posible that Filip was also (maybe
      with Andrew and John) a disciple or perhaps
      follower of John the Baptist ?


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