• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    Gospel of John:1-3

    (From a series of posts looking at Visual Bible's Gospel of John)
    Having worked my way through all of Visual Bible's Matthew and half of the Genesis Project / New Media Bible's Luke the group I lead is now on to John and so I'm going to work through the Visual Bible's Gospel of John in a similar fashion.

    The first thing I notice is that John is very much a step up in terms of quality. Christopher Plummer is a better narrator than Richard Kiley, widescreen is better than 4:3 and just the quality of the filmstock and sets makes this a better viewing experience. The script is less adaptable however, and I suspect that will start to grate sooner or later.

    A couple of observations on the first couple of chapters. Firstly, John is the only gospel where Jesus isn't baptised (or at least John doesn't tell us about it), but the film puts in in anyway, as a flashback as John the Baptist is speaking.

    Secondly, the clearing of the temple scene is really good here. Whilst I'm not particularly comfortable with the idea of a Jesus quite as angry as this one (particularly as it's not really clear why) this is pretty much the only film to depict this scene plausibly in my opinion.

    Lastly, it always seems strange to me that Jesus doesn't get to deliver the immortal :) words of John 3:16. Plummer gets these, but I'd always thought (perhaps wrongly given some modern translations) that these are words spoken by Jesus rather than the author. I might have to look into that one.



    • At 4:59 pm, December 05, 2010, Anonymous Matthew Baldwin said…

      John 3:16 is "definitely" the narrator. Modern editions (like NRSV) make it the direct discourse of Jesus.

      Fact: the direct discourse of Jesus must cut off somewhere between the last appearance of the tell-tale 1st person pronoun in 3:12 and the clearly 3rd person narration of 3:22. But the transition is completely unmarked. Does the speech continue until John 3:21? Or does it stop beginning with 3:13? Either is possible. A more plausible beginning of the narrator's voice is with 3:16, since 3:13-15 continue the thought of 3:12 and represent a kind of interpretive gloss on the Hebrew scriptures, which seems appropriate in the mouth of Jesus.

      The fact that 3:16-21 is such a developed Christological discourse which speaks of both God and the Son strictly in 3rd person and also returns directly to the literary themes of John 1, argues strongly in favor of it being the words of the narrator.

    • At 12:25 pm, December 17, 2010, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for clarifying that. I'm surprised that I've not noticed before.



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