• 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


    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    Gospel of John 5:4

    My church is looking at John 5 on Sunday (The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda) and I was asked to find a video clip for it. As far as I'm aware the only proper version of this story on film is from Visual Bible's Gospel of John. So I sat down to watch it and noticed something I'd not seen in my previous viewings.

    Now many translations these days, including the Good News Bible which this film is based upon, omit part of John 5:3 and all of verse 4 as it doesn't appear in the more important manuscripts. It's thought to be a later addition, included to explain the paralysed man's comment in 5:7 ("Sir, I have no one here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up" - GNB). The surplus text explains this comment thus:
    They were waiting for the water to move, 4 because every now and then an angel of the Lord went down into the pool and stirred up the water. The first sick person to go into the pool after the water was stirred up was healed from whatever disease he had.
    The thing I noticed yesterday was how the film cleverly makes reference to this missing verse, without actually speaking the words. As Christopher Plummer reads out the first 2 verse we see a shot of the 5 porches, followed by a panning out God shot of the pool itself (shown at the top of this post). As you can see the water is bubbling there seemingly all by itself.

    The next shot is a brief action shot: a couple of characters run to some of those waiting by the pool. The character at the back of the above screen grab is slightly blurred. We then see a couple of shots of people helping those around the pool to get in. All this is happening whilst Plummer reads out the first part of verse 3.

    The way these shots are edited together suggest the missing text of verse 4. The use of a God shot rather than one that is more conventional; the way that the pool is being stirred, in a fashion, without anyone doing it; and the way that all of a sudden people are rushing to help others into the pool.The angel is obviously unseen which makes the reading of the scene somewhat ambiguous, but I like the subtle way with which this small detail is included.

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    • At 6:47 pm, May 06, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      Wow, excellent observation, Matt! Thanks for sharing that.

      I own the Gospel of John on DVD, and I've watched it many times, but I never saw it like the way you said.

      Now that you mention it, I do remember subconsciously thinking about the angel that would "stir the waters," but I didn't think about how the "God view" demonstrates that.

      Good work!

    • At 9:45 pm, May 06, 2008, Blogger Matt Page said…

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • At 9:48 pm, May 06, 2008, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks Jon, interesting page you have by the way.



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