|Genre Biblical epic
Drama||Based on Protestant Bible|
|Created by Roma Downey
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.
- TV ratings
- Critical reception
- Differences from the Bible
- Lookalike controversy
- Awards and nominations
- DVD release
- Theatrical release
- Sequel AD
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
- In Your Eyes – Francesca Battistelli
- Live Like That – Sidewalk Prophets
- This Side of Heaven – Chris August
- Starting Line – Jason Castro
- Love Come To Life – Big Daddy Weave
- Crave – for King & Country
- Fearless – Group 1 Crew
- What Love Means – Everfound
- Home – Dara Maclean
- Wash Me Away – Point of Grace
- Not For a Moment (After All) – Meredith Andrews
- Mary, Did You Know? – Kenny Rogers with Wynonna
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.