• 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


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    Monday, February 01, 2010

    The Bible: A History, Part 2

    Following on from Howard Jacobson's look at Creation in last week's The Bible: A History was Rageh Omar's look at Abraham, and the three monotheistic faiths that all trace their roots back to him.

    It was familiar territory for Omar, brought up a Muslim in nominally Christian country (the UK), who has explored relationships between Christians, Muslims and Jews in various other documentaries before.

    Whilst the production values were similarly high as in the first programme in the series, it felt somewhat more tangential than the opening instalment. It was certainly interesting enough in its own way, but it felt less to do with the Bible per se and more to do with two religions that follow it and a third that doesn't. Even then though, I didn't feel I came away with a greater understanding of what the Qu'ran has to say about Abraham.

    There was some interesting material - the overview of Sumerian culture towards the start of the programme, and the way in which the story of Abraham may have spoken to the Jews exiled in Babylon in the 6th century - but these felt like the exception rather than the rule.

    None of which is to say that the relationship between the three faiths isn't important. It is, massively so. But it didn't really feel like this was a show about the Bible that talked about related issues; more a show about one of those issues that happened to mention the Bible.

    In fairness, it's become clear to me now that this criticism could also be levelled at the first programme, with the major difference being arguably only my own interest one issue as against the other. So it will be interesting to see how next week's programme - Anne Widdecombe's look at Exodus and the Ten Commandments - fits with this trend.

    The preview at the start and end of this week's offering promises Widdecombe's exploring how God's big ten came to underpin Western law, as well a confrontation with an angry sounding Stephen Fry (in which Widdecombe can surely only come out looking second best). It shall be interesting how much this programme actually ends up being to do with the Bible, not least because Widdecombe is the first Christian in this series to be presenting an episode.

    Incidentally, under the 4 on Demand page for each episode numerous viewers have offered their own thoughts on the programme. As you might expect there is more than a little ranting from some quarters.

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