March 18, 2013 By Ben Witherington
It is always hard to know what to leave in, or leave out, of a film on the whole Bible. In this third episode we get part of the tale of Jeremiah and Nebuchadnezzar carting Jews off into Babylonian exile. The real focus of the first hour is on Daniel, and here finally, the story telling become becomes more apt and ept, and worth watching. We get both the fiery furnace and the lion’s den episodes decently portrayed without melodrama. After all, the story in itself is dramatic enough. And smartly, we hear Daniel quoting the vision we find in Dan. 7.13-14, which provides a nice segue for the next segment, for we are shifting quickly right to Herod the Great and Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus, the Son of Man of Daniel’s vision.
Herod is portrayed as a fat, obnoxious, winebibber, who practices blood-letting by leeches and scoffs at the wise man when he comes. And the wise man comes before the birth of Jesus, not after. Jesus is born in a cattle stall, just as St. Francis, but not the Bible envisioned it. So we have the traditional nativity scene— Mary, Joseph, the baby and both shepherds and the wise men all in a cattle stall. Here we are better served by the film the Nativity which sticks closer to the facts in most regards.