• 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


    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Relating Canonicity to the Bible and Film

    I wanted to throw out a few thoughts about the idea of canonicity and Bible Films. The first thing to say is that there are perhaps three, somewhat related ideas at play here.

    The first is the idea of how the biblical canon has been portrayed in films. Which parts of the Bible have been covered a lot and, in contrast, which have barely been given any attention whatsoever by filmmakers? That set of ideas could perhaps be grouped by the subtitle "The Biblical Canon on Film". How evenly has the biblical canon been portrayed in the medium of film?

    Leading on from that, there's a question which arises regarding the frequency with which certain groups of characters and subjects feature in such portrayals relative to other characters and subjects. There are numerous films about Samson, but practically zero about Deborah, despite the fact their significance and prominence in the text of the Bible is roughly equal. Why is it that whenever a series such as The History Channel's The Bible goes into production the same few stories inevitably end up being adapted? Do certain stories almost self-select themselves for inclusion and, if so, why? I guess this could be subtitled "Does film have a canon of Bible stories?"

    Finally there's also the question of whether, as film as as medium gets older, a canon of particular Bible films is beginning to emerge. When the Bible on film is discussed, which are the titles that come up again and again, and perhaps even given a prominence that outstrips their true significance. This question could summarised as "Is there a canon of Bible films?"

    So over the next few posts I'm going to unpack these various ideas, taking a post for each of those areas. It's probably best however if I start by making a few observations on the notion of canonicity and drawing out what its key elements are if it's to be used as a metaphor in these differing ways. That'll be the subject of my next post and I'll taken things from there.



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