Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

The Bible (miniseries)

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Genre  Biblical epic Drama
Based on  Protestant Bible
The Bible (miniseries)

Created by  Roma Downey Mark Burnett
Directed by  Roma Downey Mark Burnett
Starring  Diogo Morgado Roma Downey Darwin Shaw Andrew Scarborough
Narrated by  Keith David (US version) Robert Powell (UK version)

The Bible is a television miniseries based on the Bible. It was produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and was broadcast weekly between March 3 and March 31, 2013 on History channel. It has since been adapted for release to theaters as a feature film (138 minutes), the 2014 American epic biblical drama Son of God.


Burnett, best known for producing prime-time hit reality shows, considers the scripted 10-hour series to be the "most important" project he has undertaken. The project was conceived by Burnett and Downey, who are married, after watching Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 film The Ten Commandments for the first time since childhood.

The series is Mark Burnett's first scripted project. In addition to Burnett and Downey, executive producers include Richard Bedser and History's Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs. The first episode of the mini-series was seen by 13.1 million viewers, the largest cable television audience of 2013 to date. The second installment continued "to deliver blockbuster ratings" for the network, attracting 10.8 million viewers. The third installment on March 17, 2013 was once again the No. 1 show on all of Sunday night television with 10.9 million total viewers. In addition, the series garnered 4.2 million adults 25–54 and 3.5 million adults 18–49. In total, with subsequent airings, 'The Bible' has received more than 100 million cumulative views.

The series received three Emmy Award nominations for best miniseries, and sound editing and sound mixing on July 18, 2013.

Parts of the telecast – including unaired footage – have been turned into a feature film about the life of Jesus entitled Son of God. A sequel series with the title A.D. The Bible Continues aired on NBC.


The series covers "Genesis to Revelation" in "one grand narrative," within five two-hour parts, each containing two or three biblical stories told through live action and computer-generated imagery. According to Burnett, it included "obvious" stories such as Noah's Ark, the Exodus, and the life of Jesus Christ. Five hours are taken from the Old Testament, five from the New. The series is based on the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

Downey and Burnett said their "greatest hope" in making the series was that it would "affect a new generation of viewers and draw them back to the Bible."

"Part of what we hoped to accomplish with the series was to show the Bible is not simply a collection of unconnected stories which are often discussed and analyzed in snippets with chapter and verse numbers," the couple wrote in an op-ed in The Huffington Post. "Instead, we wanted to show how the Old Testament connects seamlessly to the New Testament. How they are one sweeping story with one grand, overriding message: God loves each one of us as if we were the only person in all the world to love."


In May 2011, The New York Times reported that Downey, Burnett and their production team were selecting stories for the series, with production scheduled to begin in 2012 for a 2013 broadcast. The budget for the series was under $22 million. Researchers and theologians were asked to verify accuracy. Academic consultants included Craig A. Evans, Helen Bond, Paula Gooder, Mark Goodacre and Candida Moss. Shooting took place in Morocco and elsewhere.

Burnett and Downey consulted "a wide range of pastors and academics," including their friend Joel Osteen, Joshua Garroway (a rabbi from Hebrew Union College), and a Catholic cardinal. Geoff Tunnicliffe of the World Evangelical Alliance, read each episode's script and visited the set in Morocco: he "wanted to be sure that the final edits would hold together as a singular thematic message throughout the entire series" and "was not disappointed." Another consultant, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, applauded the couple's courage for making the series: "Let's face it, it takes some moxie to lift up the Bible in the middle of Hollywood. In fact, when they first proposed the project they were told to try and tell the story without mentioning Jesus. They refused."

Other project advisors included:

  • Rick Warren (pastor, Saddleback Church)
  • Erwin McManus (pastor, Mosaic)
  • Sam Rodriguez (National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference)
  • Paul Eshleman (Campus Crusade for Christ)
  • Bobby Gruenewald (YouVersion Bible)
  • Brad Lomenick (Catalyst)
  • Leith Anderson (president, National Association of Evangelicals)
  • Frank Wright (president, National Religious Broadcasters)
  • Tom Peterson (Catholics Come Home)
  • Gabe Lyons (founder of the Fermi Project)
  • Luis Palau (Christian evangelist)
  • George Wood (General Superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America)
  • Craig Groeschel (Life Church)
  • Denny Rydberg (Young Life)
  • Andrew Benton (president, Pepperdine University)
  • Days before the series premiere, Downey and Burnett authored an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal arguing that Bible teaching should be mandatory in U.S. public schools because "(t)he foundations of knowledge of the ancient world – which informs the understanding of the modern world – are biblical in origin."


    The cast is an "international ensemble" chosen to avoid "distracting the audience with recognizable celebrities"; many of the actors came from a background in London's theatre district. For the purposes of this list, each hour is a whole episode.

    TV ratings

    The opening episode of the series premiered to very high ratings. The miniseries was watched by 13.1 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. In Canada, the premiere was watched by 1.05 million viewers. The second installment saw a ratings slippage, but still brought in 10.8 million viewers, tops in all television for the 8–10 p.m. time period. Week three's installment, meanwhile, garnered 10.9 million total viewers.

    Critical reception

    Reviews of The Bible have been mixed. It has had a "mixed or average reviews" rating at Metacritic, having a score of 44 out of 100 based on 13 critical reviews.


    On March 19, 2013, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett offered remarks on the viewership and its anticipated diffusion. He said: "We've realized, on the journey around the country to churches and all over the place, many people cannot afford cable TV. And those people need to see this Bible series. So we're rushing the DVD out April 2nd, also immediately with Spanish subtitles. This is very important. And this is only for America and Canada. Now we're about to start around the world. This will be in every country of the world. More people will see this series than everything we ever made; together, combined. Billions of people will see this series. Billions."

    Differences from the Bible

    In the introduction to each episode, the message is displayed "This program is an adaptation of Bible stories that changed our world. It endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the Book." Roma Downey stated in an interview, "we had a great team of scholars and theologians helping us, making sure that we told these stories accurately and truthfully," However, many of the story elements in the series have been criticized as deviating from the events described in the traditional text, and using too many creative licenses. These are included below:

  • In the Bible, Noah's three sons are full grown men, whereas in the TV series they are depicted as boys. Also in the mini-series, Noah has a couple of young daughters but not in the Bible. Note: These young girls are not Noah's daughters but his daughters-in-law.
  • In the Book of Genesis, the angelic visitors were approached by Lot who insisted that they stay with him. Then they feasted with Lot in his home. The series shows the angels approaching Lot, begging for help with no hospitality extended to them. (Genesis 19:1-5)
  • The text describes a mob gathered outside of Lot's home wanting to rape his two angelic visitors, and Lot offering his daughters instead. The series omits this. (Genesis 19:4-10)
  • At the destruction of Sodom, the series shows the angels slaughtering some of the city's inhabitants. Critics refer to these as "Ninja Angels". This is not in the text. (Genesis 19:1-17)
  • The series shows Abraham traveling with Isaac, a very short distance to the place where he was to sacrifice his son. In the Bible it is a three-day journey and the two are accompanied by a donkey and two attendants. (Genesis 22:1-4)
  • The series shows Sarah running after Abraham once she realizes he is going to sacrifice Isaac. This is not in the text. (Genesis 22:1-19)
  • In the Binding of Isaac, the text describes a ram (adult) caught by its horns in a thicket. The miniseries depicts a juvenile lamb caught by its leg (Genesis 22:13)
  • When Moses appeared to Pharaoh years later, the text shows Moses' brother Aaron releasing his shepherd staff onto the ground which turns into a snake wherein Pharaoh's magicians copying the trick. The series omits this.
  • The Bible text says that Samson tied torches on 300 foxes' tails causing them to burn the Phillistines' crops and plants. This was because Samson was angry with his father in law for giving his wife to another man. When they head this they burned Samson's wife and her father to death (Judges 15: 4-6). In the series the Philistine commander has Samson's wife and her father to death as consequence for marrying Samson, who was an Israelite.
  • After David's affair with Bathsheba and the killing of Uriah the Hittite, he is confronted by Nathan. The series depicts David as resistant or even indignant, whereas in the text, David is remorseful for his sin and admits his guilt, leading him to write Psalm 51 and beg forgiveness from God (2 Samuel 12:13, Psalms 51)
  • When the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem, Jeremiah is depicted as escaping unnoticed by the invaders. In the text Jeremiah is captured, bound in chains and later released (Jeremiah 39:11-40:6)
  • The show depicts Daniel and his three compatriots being captured during the siege, when in fact, they were deported more than a decade before Jerusalem’s destruction (Daniel 1; 2 Kings 24:10-16)
  • When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's golden statue, the miniseries depicts them as being tied up, with a fire lit under them. In the text, the king orders the three to be thrown into a furnace that was heated seven times hotter than usual. In fact, the text describes the furnace as being so hot, that some of Nebuchadnezzar's "strongest soldiers" who threw them in there were killed by the flames while doing so. (Daniel 3:19-23)
  • The miniseries's depicts the prophet Isaiah as a contemporary of Daniel, living during the time of the Babylonian exile. This is a major inconsistency with the text as Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus the Persian would release the captives after a period of time. This prophecy occurred 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of these feats, and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile meaning that Isaiah could never have existed contemporaneously—that is, at the same time—as Daniel and Cyrus. (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; 45:13).
  • In the miniseries' depiction of the Temptation of Christ, the Devil took Jesus to a high mountain when he tempted Jesus to throw himself down. In the text, the Devil tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. The high mountain was where the devil tempted Jesus to worship him. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)
  • In the Bible, Jesus had the mourners remove the stone, and then he called for Lazarus to come out. In the miniseries, Jesus enters Lazarus' tomb and kisses him on the head, while not even addressing Lazarus, and gives a brand-new monologue. (John 11:38-44)
  • Lookalike controversy

    There have been claims of a resemblance of the actor in the role of Satan (Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni) to U.S. President Barack Obama. The resemblance was first pointed out notably by Glenn Beck ahead of the episode's premiere.

    This led the History Channel to announce,

    History [C]hannel has the highest respect for President Obama. The Bible series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. History’s "The Bible" is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history."

    Burnett and Downey responded in a joint statement,

    This is utter nonsense. The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouazanni, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics – including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President.

    Downey added separately,

    "Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love for our president, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.

    Awards and nominations

    The Bible was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards; Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special, and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie. The 44th GMA Dove Awards gave a tribute to the miniseries in October 2013. In 2014, The Bible won the honor of Home Media Magazine's Best Miniseries or TV Movie on Disc for the year.

    DVD release

    The series became the biggest-selling miniseries on DVD in its first week of release, and biggest on Blu-ray and Digital HD of all time. In its first week on home video, 'The Bible' series sold 525,000 copies. It was the fastest selling television show on DVD since 2008. A Blu-ray version is also available via 20th Century Fox.


    Roma Downey and Mark Burnett have also released a novelization of this miniseries, entitled A Story of God and All of Us: A Novel Based on the Epic TV Miniseries "The Bible." It debuted at No. 27 on the New York Times Best-Seller List.


    A CD was released on March 12, 2013 with Christian music singers performing songs inspired by the miniseries:

    1. In Your Eyes – Francesca Battistelli
    2. Live Like That – Sidewalk Prophets
    3. This Side of Heaven – Chris August
    4. Starting Line – Jason Castro
    5. Love Come To Life – Big Daddy Weave
    6. Crave – for King & Country
    7. Fearless – Group 1 Crew
    8. What Love Means – Everfound
    9. Home – Dara Maclean
    10. Wash Me Away – Point of Grace
    11. Not For a Moment (After All) – Meredith Andrews
    12. Mary, Did You Know? – Kenny Rogers with Wynonna

    Theatrical release

    Mark Burnett announced in April 2013 that a three-hour version is being prepared for global theatrical release. He claimed that he has had no distribution arrangements yet, though he could possibly release it himself. In June 2013, Burnett elaborated that the film, which has already been edited, will focus exclusively on the life of Jesus, and will run two hours and fifteen minutes. In September 2013, it was announced that 20th Century Fox will partner with Burnett on theatrical distribution, currently titled Son of God. In October 2013, it was announced that Son of God will be released on February 28, 2014.

    Sequel – A.D.

    On December 17, 2013, it was announced that there would be a follow-up miniseries in 2015, titled A.D. The Bible Continues, also produced by Burnett, Downey, and Bedser. The limited series began airing on NBC on Easter Sunday, April 5. It airs in twelve weekly one-hour episodes. The story takes place immediately after the events of The Bible, beginning with the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and continues with the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts. On July 3, 2015, NBC cancelled A.D. The Bible Continues after one season. However, producers Burnett and Downey plan future biblical productions on their OTT digital channel.


    The Bible (miniseries) Wikipedia