The Bible according to the History Channel

The Bible is a television mini-series, produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.  It is based, very loosely, on the Bible. Burnett and Downey say that they consulted “a wide range of pastors and academics” while preparing the series.  Their consultants included people like Joel Osteen, rabbi Joshua Garroway, and Catholic cardinal Geoff Tunnicliffe.  Also included were Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, “40 Days of Purpose” creator Rick Warren, noted modalist T.D. Jakes, and a blend of evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, and even the superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God.  A real mishmash of perspectives, ideas, and traditions.

Given my job, I felt obliged to watch the series.  As of this writing, three episodes have been released — each more troubling and problematic than the previous one.  After watching each week’s entry, I wrote short reviews and posted them on the GCA Facebook page.  At the request of some of our readers, I’ve assembled those comments here (along with some updates).  What you’ll gather rather quickly is that I am not a fan.

Week One

Last night I recorded the History Channel’s first episode of their Bible series. I watched it tonight. Just turned it off, in fact. I’m saddened by it. So much money and production value poured into a completely fictitious account of the Old Testament.

But, here’s what really bothers me —

Biblical ignorance runs rampant in our land. People who don’t know any better are going think that this is how the Bible actually reads and what it actually teaches. The critic of the Bible has all the more reason to discount it since the God of this series is cruel and haphazard. And the biblically ignorant folk who watch this will come away with a completely false concept of God, His word, and His interactions with the children of Israel.

The details count. And the producers of this program turned the details into a mishmash of badly scripted soap opera moments while ignoring the great weight of theology and events that really could have been recounted accurately just as easily. For instance, was it really that tough to put a ram in a thicket caught by his horns? Why make it a lamb standing around by a bush? The type of Christ was completely abolished by their lackadaisical retelling of the story. And, by the way, what was Sarah doing running around in the wilderness by herself looking for her boy after taking a headcount of the local flock? Why insert a fairy tale and ignore the important details?

According to the Bible, Abraham took Isaac and a couple young men with him on a three day journey to Moriah —

“So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship and return to you.’” (Gen. 22:3-5)

But, the History Channel’s retelling of this story had Abraham and Isaac alone wandering just around the corner from their camp — close enough that Sarah was able to reach them between the time they built the altar and the time that Abraham raised the knife — and they completely omitted Abraham’s instruction, including his confidence that both he and the boy were going to return.  After all, this was the boy through whom God had promised innumerable seed.  Abraham’s act of utter faith was reduced to him arguing with God that he felt he’d been tested enough.

What a repugnant program this is.

The Moses character was utterly inaccurate (and his motivations were way too Mickey Rourke for me). But why? Why create a lie when the truth would work just as well?

And, of course, the DVD is for sale. And the work book.  And the 30 Days of the Bible program (echoes of 40 Days of Purpose, anyone?).  And you know the producers and pitch men (Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, et. al.) are going to claim that this is a great evangelistic tool. They’ll encourage their listeners to buy the DVD and share it with their friends and family. Apparently, Peter’s description of false prophets didn’t sink in — “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” (2Peter 2:3)

But, if anyone anywhere is moved or convinced by this program, what have they been convinced to believe? Certainly not the truth. Once again the wizards of Hollywood have decided that God’s word needs editing, improving, reworking, and dumbing down. At best the people responsible for this mess are merely ignorant for sake of a payday. At worse, they are the willing accomplices of the father of lies.

I can only imagine what they’re going to do to the gospel account when they get to it.

I’m so sad about this. America needs to repent of a whole litany of sins and rebellion. But, this organized effort to misrepresent the Scripture (while making the rounds of television shows talking about how pious they are and how true to the text they attempted to stay) sits heavy on my conscience because the church at large is not correcting and rejecting it. The producers have done a “good” job of creating ecumenical acceptance and promotion of their hackneyed tale. I wish the church were more devoted to the Word and less enamored with the show-biz that permeates modern evangelicalism.

I need to go to bed. It’s late. My throat hurts. My ears and sinuses are burning. But, my heart hurts more. I am sad for the state of modern Christianity.

Even so, Lord, come soon.

Week Two

Despite making us look like gluttons for punishment, last night David Morris and I fired up the DVR so we could watch the second installment of The Bible series from the History Channel. Oh my. We kept pausing the playback to list the multiple errors in each scene. And again, I wonder why the producers continually chose to tell a novel, made-up version of these stories when then actual Biblical account would have been just as easy to tell and much more compelling. The massive amount of political correctness that permeates this series is nauseating. And the whole thing suffers from both leaving out vital details and inserting soap-opera-like stories and motivations that are utterly foreign to the Biblical text. What a mess.

As I said about the first episode, there are plenty of biblically-ignorant folk in the world who are going to believe that what they saw on the screen was actually what the Bible says, thinks, and promotes. This series is just adding to the confusion and background noise that makes it so difficult to accurately teach Biblical history, doctrine, and theology. They have turned the truth of God into a lie.

<<<heavy sigh>>>

Then again, one accomplishment the producers did achieve was that they managed to take some of the most exciting, compelling stories in human history and make them mind-numbingly boring.

So hey, that’s something ….

Week Three

I finally watched the third installment of the Bible series on the History Channel. It’s pretty much everything I expected.  More of the same … same lies, same falsehoods, same heresies, same lack of historic veracity, same utter disrespect for the text of the Bible as written, same dumbing down of the Bible, same insertion of Purpose Drivel, same denial of sin, redemption, the necessity of a Savior … etc, etc, etc.

However, I did notice something significant. I wasn’t surprised at the constant historic revisionism, but when the character playing Daniel told the the character playing Cyrus that there was a prophet living at the time called Isaiah — quote: “There’s a prophet here in Babylon, Isaiah, he says …” — well, that’s just utterly wrong and there’s no reason to get it so wrong. Unless you have an agenda.

Isaiah died a good century before Cyrus was born, but he also predicted Cyrus, by name, as the ruler who would let the people of Israel return to build their temple. [By the way, the Bible series keeps representing the Jewish folk as poor, dusty, downtrodden people, but many Jews did not return to Jerusalem because they had become so prosperous and well-to-do in Babylon.] But, why did the writers of the Bible series insist on placing Isaiah in the Babylonian context?

Late dating.

They did the same sort of dance around the prophecies of Daniel. When Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, Daniel began recounting it. He said, “You are the head of gold …” at which point the king interrupts him and insists, “Tell me about the rock that smashes the other kingdoms,” effectively erasing the prophecy that accurately predicts the succession of kingdoms to follow Babylon — Medo/Persian, Greece, Rome and the ten-toed kingdom that’s on the earth when Christ returns.

I sense a pattern here.

The Bible series insists that the Jews were returned to their land under Cyrus because Daniel was such a brave, vision-casting sort of leader. But, nothing is said of the fact that Jeremiah already prophesied that the captivity in Babylon would last 70 years and that time period was fulfilled. There’s nothing of the angel visiting Daniel and prophesying the 490-year future of the Israelites, leading to the Messiah and time of the end.

It’s obvious that the writers and producers are systematically eliminating or explaining-away all the accurate prophecy in the Old Testament. The TV version of the prophets merely heard from God, but there’s no hint of accurately foretelling future events. (Oh sure, there’s a vague hat-tip to the concept when Herod asks about predictions concerning where the King of the Jews would be born, but the whole episode is brushed away like a fluke. There’s no mention of the nearly 400 OT prophecies that Jesus accurately fulfilled.)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve concluded: The writers and producers of the program eliminated and late-dated OT prophecy on purpose. As I’ve often argued, the consistent accuracy of Biblical prophecy is evidence of the Bible’s divine nature — it is the very word of God, God-breathed. But, if the producers believed the Bible was God’s own word, they would never take the liberties they’ve taken with it. So, they’ve downplayed, underplayed, or ignored the prophetic elements of the very stories they’ve chosen to tell. But, in the end, it’s really a complete denial of the holiness and divinity of the Bible.

And it’s blasphemy. (Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things, like the Holy Bible.)

The whole thing — the whole series — is a mishmash of gratuitous scenes of violence, angels who act like hypnotists, occasional insertions from the inter-testamental period (like the eagle on the temple, a story we find in Josephus, but not the Bible … probably inserted to satisfy the Catholic consultants who include the Apocrypha in their Bible), and historic inaccuracies like the wise men seeing the star prior to the birth of Jesus so that they could make their journey early and get to Herod and then the manger on time. This despite the fact that the Bible says they visited the family at their home when Jesus was a young boy, leading Herod to kill all the boys 2 and under … but hey, those are just details, so why bother getting any of it correct?

 And they came into the house and saw the Child (paidion) with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matt. 2:12)
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. (Matt. 2:16)

Also, there weren’t three wise men. The Bible doesn’t say how many there were. On TV, Herod called the leader Balthazar, which name is not in the Bible, it’s a medieval Catholic tradition that probably dates back to Bede the Venerable in the 8th Century. In this series we saw no attempt to get Mary a room at the inn. When Jesus was baptized there was no dove, no voice from Heaven.

 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt. 3:16-17)

In His dealings with Peter, the show gave us no sense of Jesus’ divine ability to effectively call people to Himself. And, of course, there was the horrid insertion of words into Jesus’ mouth that He simply never said, like, “Change the world.”


(Oh, and when Jesus was in the desert, did that snake come out of him, out from under him, or just emanate from nowhere?)

I don’t know why every modern depiction of Jesus makes him look like a white surfer dude.  He was a middle Eastern Jew.  Here’s how Isaiah described Him —

For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. (Isa. 53:2 NASB)
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Isa. 53:2 KJV)

Likewise, they always portray Satan as nasty looking.  He slithers and hisses.  He broods and exudes ugliness.  Yet, Ezekiel says of him —

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezek. 28:17)

Granted, the fall from Heaven may have had some negative impact on his appearance, but I have always thought that a vital part of Satan’s subtlety was his ability to make himself and his ways appear attractive.  Or, as the apostle Paul put it —

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:13-14)

Medieval art has influenced our thinking.  Now we think of Jesus as glowing constantly, with a halo around His head, while Satan is a split-hoofed beast with horns, a pitchfork, and a pointy tail.  That might help sell some Underwood ham, but it’s not what the Bible describes.

And here’s the worst part: There are so many people who are functionally illiterate where the Bible is concerned and they are going to think that what they’re seeing is an accurate portrayal of Jesus’ words, actions, and intentions. But, the Jesus of this series is NOT the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of this series is the invention of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, TD Jakes, and their friends in Hollywood.

Read your Bible, people.

“Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” (Rom. 3:4)

This series is as damaging as anything Rome, the Mormons, or Islam have done in their denial of the historicity, perspicuity, and trustworthiness of the text of the Bible. And the sub-biblical church in America is all excited about it. Confessing evangelical apologists for this series are making the same error they always make (just as they did with Mel Gibon’s movie, The Passion of the Christ), they are embracing this series, despite its multiple errors, with the assumption that “something is better than nothing.” They like the fact that something called “The Bible” is on TV and getting big ratings, despite the fact that it actually undermines the very Bible they claim to embrace. The Church should be universally outraged at this travesty and they should reject it wholesale in order to send the message to Hollywood that we will not allow our sacred texts to be maligned and manipulated just to sell DVD’s.

But no. The church at large will be silent. And the errors will be compounded. And Christianity will suffer as more people embrace the mis-truths and lies that make up this series.

There’s an agenda at work here, folks. And it’s not good. Despite claiming to present “The Bible,” the producers are systematically undermining the Word of God and inserting the words of men — words that are more acceptable, more palatable, more pleasing to the easily-tickled ears of worldly people.

But, they won’t tell anyone that they’re sinful, depraved, spiritually dead, incapable, and desperately wicked. They won’t explain that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him. And they won’t tell anyone that the Bible is the very word of God and, as such, humans have no authority to mess with it, alter it, change it, adapt it, or deny it.

They won’t tell the truth.

But, then again, that’s no surprise.

The Bible (the real Bible) said it would be that way —

 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2Tim. 4:1-4)

In other words, the Bible is true even when it predicts that people will not tell the truth about it.


Let me add that Chris Rosebrough  over at has been doing a series of programs exposing the various errors of this series, as well.  Drop by and give him a listen.

11 thoughts on “The Bible according to the History Channel

  1. Gordon Hazell

    I don’t disagree with anything you wrote Pastor McClarty but i will say, just as you have done in your blog this is a perfect opportunity for those of us who understand the issues to sit with people and watch it with them and explain and discuss them. Perfect opportunity to sorry thru the confusion with those who are Biblically illiterate. I have been doing that. And it has helped the young men i mentor to hwy the Bible content at a better grasp

    1. Dion Richardson

      Totally agree. I think it’s excellent that people have an “app” where they can read the Book for themselves! Any writer of books know that those who do movies make some liberties. I think Burnett/Downey did a respectable job and was WAAAY better than the NBC fiasco that GMC played yesterday called “Jesus”. Now THAT is one that is blasphemous…

  2. Gary B. King

    Christian Concepts

    I Read the Book

    The word is real. I do not know etymologically if it is a combined form of the words history and authenticity, but that in fact is what it means. Historicity is a term that refers to the historical authenticity of a subject. If that subject is the Bible, then biblical historicity addresses the historical authenticity of the Scriptures.
    During the five Sundays in March the History Channel is presenting the five-part miniseries The Bible in two hour segments from 8 to 10 pm. The last part will be telecast on Easter Sunday. Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey are believers who produced the docudrama The Bible to bring its message to the viewing public.
    Its presentation on the History Channel is intriguing. It seems to imply the Bible has historical significance and it understandably does. The History Channel would not be broadcasting it, and Mark and Roma would not have produced it if it didn’t. But the nature of that significance depends on one’s perspective. So, in broadcasting The Bible is it the intent to portray the Bible in history, or the history in the Bible?
    I have not interviewed anyone involved with the production or airing of The Bible. But I think it is safe to say the History Channel is showing it because of the Bible’s undeniable place and influence in human history, and Mark and Roma produced it to depict the history that is recorded in the Bible. But let us also grasp the unmistakable truth that the Bible commands its place in history, because of the history it contains.
    Unlike other religions founded upon myths and philosophy, the Judeo-Christian faith is predicated on the historical record of God’s interaction with mankind. While skeptics may doubt the supernatural elements in the Bible, they cannot claim the people and places spoken of in the Scriptures did not exist. Who would dare say Egypt or Babylonia were fabled lands, or the Persian Empire was a myth, or Greece and Rome never existed? Even people and places that are historically obscure and unknown except for their mention in the Bible have their existence corroborated by every turn of the archaeologist’s spade.
    The Bible unashamedly declares its place in human history. The God of the Bible is not a disinterested, transcendent observer as deists claim, but is the Creator who is intimately concerned with and involved in the affairs of mankind. Those who do not see God’s handiwork in history are those who have not given thoughtful consideration to the subject, or have chosen to ignore it.
    Any movie script based on a book will face its difficulties in adapting a written work to film. It is hard to capture the heart and mind of an author, and how his work connects with the imagination of his readership. The adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was masterfully done in my opinion, but I was not as impressed with the transformation to film of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
    In this respect The Bible is no different. And that difficulty is exponentially increased when the Author is God with such a widespread readership. I watched the first part of The Bible and I was disappointed. I do believe they could have done a better in the area of special effects, but that was not my chief complaint. In the pursuit of dramatic effect I think they cut too many doctrinal corners, and there were unnecessary inaccuracies.
    As a result I lost interest in the series and did not watch part two this past Sunday. But I am already hearing about more inaccuracies and that concerns me. So where does that leave us?
    If this miniseries spurs dialogue about the Bible, and causes people to read the Bible, and inspires people to study the Bible, it has served a very good purpose. But if it gives people the impression that the Bible can be read or interpreted as they please, or the Bible is inaccurate, and an untrustworthy account of history, that would be a concern.
    When you want to know the truth about anything it is always best to get information from the source. Firsthand information is always better than secondhand information, and whatever you see on TV or at the movies about the Bible is secondhand information. Having lost interest in The Bible because of inaccuracies will probably preclude me watching the remaining episodes. But that’s okay; I read the book.

    Pastor Gary welcomes comments or questions at
    Past articles of Christian Concepts are archived at and

  3. Dana

    You are absolutely right about our U.S. sliding away from the Bible as the truth, the Bible as the basis for faith, and the idea that we’re not the ones who judge, one way or the other. The Bible is a book of miracles, handed to us by the ultimate architect of miracles- God- who in case anyone wasn’t noticing; is omnipresent. Deist’s just no nuts over that, they can’t resolve it to life…which is a bummer, life, in case they haven’t noticed it; isn’t created by them- either, and yet, life is explained as created in the Bible, and life is what this book of miracles, the Bible, is all about- the subject of the Bible, God’s only son, Jesus- explained it this way: “I’ve come that you might have life and have it more abundantly,” He wasn’t joking about that, and God is – omnipresent.
    As a seminary trained Th.D. recipient my heart bleeds at the lack of sincerity people have when it comes to this greatest truth/book of all time- the Bible. Yes I get that the “historical/accurate by mans history folks” gag on certain parts of the Bible, but- my point is, they shouldn’t; because they didn’t write it. They are looking back thousands of years into history; which means they are, for all intents and purposes, clueless; just as someone examining any ruins left behind by our present culture (plastic) would believe we had a certain form of ritual for it, as it is amassed. BUT- would they have any books or writings from an almighty author and groups of truth tellers to steer them in the right direction about the plastics they were looking at? Likely not- hence- the Bible; as that God given guide to you; is true, base your faith upon it; if the so called real history folks can’t resolve the Biblical truth, that’s unfortunate but not unexpected at all. Jesus very clearly warned everyone that a little yeast will wreck the whole loaf, a truth that worked on the Pharisaical crowd then, and the same crowd today- the history channel can’t do what they’d like to do- God didn’t ordain it, on the other hand; whenever man has tried to remove the Bible from life, guess what, it won’t go away!
    America faces real dangers- one of the largest of which is a quiet dismantling of our morale fabric via the route of doubts and half truths about our faith and the Bible it is based upon, and God’s only Son, Jesus, the Christ who the Bible is written to reveal- it’s sad that so many will miss Christ; having not heard the truth, nor read the Bible to discover the truth, but rather having believed a T.V. show purporting to put forth a truth of history that can’t be done. You know if you’re a Christian that the truth of the Bible is that Jesus must be born to be the savior who can forgive our sins- anyone who proclaims anything else is not telling the truth about the Bible, nor are they properly positioning themselves before a Holy God, nor are they getting that His only Son Jesus is their only hope, if they won’t call upon Him to forgive them of their sins- they will find out that eternity is a scale that man doesn’t get, neither does the history channel.

  4. Oliver Elphick

    I haven’t seen this series and am unlikely to, since they won’t be broadcasting it in France! But I am not really surprised at what you have seen in it. However, I would like to comment on one of your criticisms.

    You said, “…the Bible says they visited the family at their home when Jesus was a young boy, leading Herod to kill all the boys 2 and under…”

    Matthew 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,  2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 

    16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 

    and you conclude from that that Jesus was a young boy – i.e. 2 years old. I have seen a number of people say this, but there is no need for it. Herod was a notoriously evil and bloodthirsty man. Since he wanted to kill the new-born Messiah, he gave orders to kill all boys up to 2 years old, so as to be sure he didn’t miss the child by having his parents say he was older.

    Joseph did not live in Bethlehem, since he had had to travel to get there; so it wasn’t his home. (Luke 2:4) He must have stayed with relatives, not in the traditional stable, which would have been an unthinkable violation of hospitality and the care due to a woman about to give birth. (The word usually translated “inn” means guest-room.) Bethlehem was his native city, so he must have had relatives there. No doubt the couple stayed until Mary’s time of purification was over (40 days), so that the necessary rituals in the temple could be performed. Some time soon after that would be long enough for the magi coming from Persia or Babylon to get there.

    So Jesus was probably 6 to 10 weeks old at the time of the magi’s visit, but Herod wanted to make absolutely sure. Killing every boy up to the age of 2 would eliminate every one who could possibly be the child. Given his record, why should he care that he was killing other innocents?




    1. JSAILER

      This series stinks. Way to much violence and inaccuracy. I don’t believe Joel Osteen approved this series.

  6. Pam Sharp

    Pastor Jim, as a part of the Body of Christ, I am speaking out against this series every chance I get!! The Scriptures that come to my mind are 1Co.2:10-16. I think that explains the problem and also the condition of the souls of those involved. And I put those who claim to be ministers of God (Warren, Jakes, Osteen and the likes) also in that category. Pretty sad commentary for those who claim to know Christ. The producers are being used to promote the New Age agenda, which they thoroughly embrace. I think that that is going to be the One World Religion.
    Anyway, keep fighting the good fight. Trust me, we, the true Body of Christ, appreciate it!

  7. Harris

    I completely agree with Pastor McClarty’s remarks. And I am very saddened that more of our Christian leaders and Christian organization are not speaking out against the heresy put forth by this mini-series. It’s definately a sign I believe of the “end times”. I just hope and pray that Christians would open their eyes and also open their Bibles. And pray!

  8. Pastor Tony

    You just don’t know how refreshing it was to read your post. Our nation has drifted to a point of no return. We are calling good bad and bad good! We are a nation that glorifies sin and relativism.

    When I read some of the replies, I understand why. Our churches are full of people who are bible illiterates. People who do not care about the “truth,” like Pilate they ask, “What is truth?” Thank God there are people who are not afraid to stand for biblical accuracy. I pray the Lord makes you even bolder! We have to stand against the wiles and falsehoods of the Devil and his generals–Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, etc.

    Pastor Tony


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.