us Series, page 10 -Letters. A Hollywood Jesus visual Review
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PAGE 1 -Review and photos
PAGE 2 -Review and photos continued
PAGE 3 -Review and photos (from second part).
PAGE 4 Comments
PAGE 5 Comments
PAGE 6 Comments
PAGE 7 Comments
PAGE 8 Comments
PAGE 9 Comments
PAGE 10 Comments <you are here
PAGE 11 Comments
PAGE 12 Comments
PAGE 13 Comments
PAGE 14 Comments

Differences between the CBS and International version
SPECIAL PAGE -Interview with Lorenzo Minoli

I will respond to various letters as I can over the next few weeks. -David

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: "B. Washington"

Jeremy was excellent as 'Jesus' I felt his laughter, pain and he touched my heart. You're a great actor. I hope you know the lord as I do. (smile).
B. Washington/Sylmar, CA

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: preston

David, I'm a bit confused. I have not watched the entire movie (we taped it), but I did watch about 30 minutes of it. I ended up turning it off because I did not want my daughter confusing the real Jesus of the Bible with the Jesus that was presented on the screen. I'm not talking about His humanity. I loved the friendly, happy manner of the portrayal in the CBS version. What I did not like was the fact that He didn't know He was the Son of God or the Messiah. It took His mother to tell Him! He seemed to be confused and without purpose. I don't argue the fact that this type of film presents a fantastic opportunity for us to interact with others about our precious Savior, but I cannot say that I liked, nor approved of the CBS version of my Lord. I'm a bit confused as to why you ONLY point out the positive in such films, when the negative is something goes so far as to redefine the Biblical description of your Savior and thus attack your faith.
To the Praise of His Glory, Preston

Response: My kids watched and we had a great time. We watched it several times in fact. -David.

Subject: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees... and nitpickers!
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Scott

Dear David, Now, I don't want to get on a rant here. I?m usually not the kind of guy to sit and write a letter, but some of the comments here really stirred me up. God spoke to my heart and this letter was the result. Thank you for providing a forum to share ideas and remarks for the movie. For those ?nitpickers? out there, just a few more facts for them to nitpick at...
A timeline:
30 C.E.? Jesus is crucified
50 C.E. ? Twenty years after Jesus is crucified, the Apostle Paul leaves Antioch and begins Aegean Mission. His letters to these congregations are the earliest documents now contained in the New Testament.
60-68 C.E. ? The death of the Paul, Peter and James, the brother of Jesus and head of the church in Jerusalem.
70-95 C.E. ? Between forty and sixty five years after Christ?s ascension - after years of the story of Jesus being passed along by oral tradition, the ?synoptic gospels? are written down by unknown authors; first the ?Gospel of Mark? in 70 C.E.; next ?Matthew? and ?Luke?, between
85-95 C.E., by copying ?Mark? but also adding extra sayings and teachings from the ?The Q? or ?The Lost Gospel?.
90-110 C.E. ? The ?Gospel of John? is written.
90-150 C.E. ? The ?Gospel of Thomas?, the ?Gospel of Mary Magdalene? and other gnostic manuscripts are written.
180 C.E. ? After devastating persecution in his Christian community, and in an effort to restore order to the faith, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, asserts that the proper number of gospels is four, what we know as ?The Canon?. He invoked a curious logic: there are four corners to the earth, there are four winds, there are four beasts of the apocalypse.
1611 C.E. ? Over 1,400 years later, translations from Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew are converted to English, in what we know as ?The Bible - The King James Version?.
1945 C.E. ? In the Egyptian region of Nag Hammadi, an Arab villager named Mohammed Ali (no, NOT the famous pugilist!) and his brothers find a six foot earthen jar buried at a cliff base. Inside the jar are thirteen volumes containing 52 texts including the ?Gospel of Thomas?, ?Gospel of Mary Magdalene?, the ?Infancy Gospel of Thomas? written about the life of Jesus as a child, and the ?Infancy Gospel of James? which tells of Mary?s childhood and life until she and Joseph travel to Bethlehem.
1999 C.E. ? NBC airs ?Noah?s Ark? TV mini-series with an estimated audience of 50 million viewers.
2000 C.E. ? CBS airs ?Jesus? a mini-series; although ratings were not available, it is estimated that a similar number of viewers as ?Noah?s Ark? watch ?Jesus?.

My point, and I DO have one, is this? We can get lost in the facts like the nitpickers. We can argue the minutia of how many times Jesus sneezed, and why the Jesus we see in the beautiful paintings isn?t what the real Jesus looked like at all. We can get lost in the details the same way the Pharisees did...and we can miss the message the same way they did. It's amazing the message even survived at all. FOURTY YEARS as an "oral tradition"! Ever try that little party trick with a group of friends where you whisper a statement to one person, they pass it on and by the time it gets back to you it's gibberish!?!?

Now factor in leaving out, oh, about 80-90% of the story (those pesky gnostic gospels), translate your message into three or four different languages (while still retaining the intended meaning) and lest we not forget Roman persecution for even BELIEVING the message. The real statement of fact is that a network with not-so-great ratings took a chance this week. In an age of political correctness and religious intolerance...with a culture that thinks it?s a good idea to watch "WWF Smackdown" or the likes of Regis Philbin FOUR nights a week...with networks outdoing themselves to snag ratings by having two complete strangers (and STRANGE strangers at that) get married on TV...CBS decided to try something a little different. They chose to show the story of a simply-born carpenter turned teacher and Messiah...a man who, although he was and is the King of Kings and the Son of God, went against the grain (and His contemporaries) by ministering to and healing prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and other ?undesirables?...a man, although misunderstood, persecuted, betrayed by his followers and ultimately killed in the worst possible fashion, preached a message of peace, forgiveness and love that has endured nearly 2,000 years. Now I thought I heard once that if you can get 3% of your audience to buy into your message, you?re doing pretty well. If the estimate of 50 million viewers is accurate, then that approximates to 1.5 million people who just might have seen the mini-series and ?got it?. 1.5 MILLION NEW CHRISTIANS!

My question for the ?nitpickers?? How many people did YOU convert to Christianity this week? Amen to Mark Storm, ?Artie?, ?Michele Eldred? and all the others who ?got it?, and for the ?armchair Christian nitpickers?...well...God loves you...and we?re trying. Oh, and for the so-called ?believers?...leave my email addy on so they can feel free to ?flame? me and ?beat me up?. ?Remember the words I spoke to you: If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also...? Of course that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Subject: Posting on Jesus
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Ed Martin

As a long-time teacher in a Christian school, I found the Jesus presentation a generally favorable event. The director was faced with drawing on 4 sources, themselves not always in agreement, compressing time, and sometimes re-situating sayings and encounters, but always putting them around the focal points that traditionally held these sayings and encounters in a unity. I liked this portrayal that did not make Jesus dour and so somber, but instead made Him seem more the person who "Came to give life, and give it more abundantly." His at times jovial attitude accorded well with familiar catchy parables about "Getting planks out of one's eye," or "The Kingdom is like a mustard seed (which all would recognize as a weed!)," or urging prayer that had an element of insistence for waking up God!

As for the anticipated assault the show will experience for its scriptural adjustments, I would say do not get too excited. Often enough, the complainers are themselves the ones who most pick and choose passages out of context for their own purposes. That Mary of Magdalene was a prostitute may be an injustice to her memory. Joseph, Mary, Peter, Thomas, and others were well presented. The delicate matter of the killing of Jesus being finally in the hands of the Romans was skillfully dramatized.
Ed Martin Omit email (not interested in venom and brimstone)
Response: Thank you for your well balanced view. -David

Subject: Jesus
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000

I thought this was an excellent account of the life of Jesus. There were some parts missing, but I think those missing parts were a part of the 40 minutes that were cut out of CBS television version. That's why I'm going to buy the video. I was lucky enough to see the alternate ending to Jesus and I think they should've left it in the American version. The Italian version has it. I loved the way Jesus was depicted as a guy who just liked to fool around, and yet His Divinity showed whenever He performed a miracle-I loved it! I have the movie recorded and I've seen it about 3 times, now. I will definately buy the video the moment I even catch a glimpse of it while at the video store. If they don't have it within a certain amount of time, I'll just call CBS Home Video and order it. I suggest this movie to anyone who has a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ and if you don't, you should still watch this movie and yes, include my e-mail address.

Subject: JESUS mini series
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: olling

I would have to agree with many of the comments given about the inaccuracies in this movie's portrayal of Jesus, particularly in the first hour of part one. Was this invented life of Christ before the start of His ministry really necessary? One big problem I had with part two was the depiction of the crucifixion. I find it hard to believe why the producers decided to depict this most important event in Christian history (the death of Christ for the redemption of mankind) in only 3 1/2 minutes!!! If they had spent less time on their fanciful stories of Jesus at the beginning of part one, they would have had more time to give a proper emphasis to the death and resurrection. This is the focal point of the entire gospel message, not a 15 minute appendix at the end of a movie.

Subject: Creating God in the Image of Man
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Andy W.

The portrayal of Jesus was not accurate. Each time we take "creative liberty" to interpret Jesus as we want to see Him and not as the Bible portrays, we begin creating God in our own image. Jesus' doubt of His calling and Who His Father is depicts doubt contradictory to the scriptures. As a youth, Jesus was found in the Temple - in His Father's House... He knew Who His father was. The hint of Jesus toying with His powers smells of blaspheme. In His temptation, Jesus has a prolonged discussion with Satan trying to reason with him where Jesus uses scripture to address the devil's lies. The series actually had Jesus forgiving the devil! Satan has seen God face-to-face and wants to be as God - he is fallen and always will be fallen. God has created a place for Satan called the lake of fire. His place will not be with God but apart from God. The struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane is not a struggle with death, but one of separation. God the Father must turn His back on His beloved Son as Christ takes on our sin debt - "My God, why have You forsaken Me?". Missing the details of the culture at the time of Christ impacts the production. Jesus was whipped by the Romans, and not a mere flogging. 40 lashes as punishment often caused death. Your portrayal of the guards ripping Jesus' tunic on the steps and proceeding with a beating misses the intenseness of the actual punishment. The production shows a wall exploding behind Jesus as He died on the cross - instead of adding truth to the series by depicting the curtain in the Holy of Holies being torn... Jesus is fully man and fully God, He never lost these features. Jesus did not know of His return in His humanity but knew of His return in His divinity. On earth, He relied on His Father, not on Himself. The strength of God's message is the mercy and grace that He extends to us as a fallen humanity, and the far superior grace and mercy is that He did it through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of His Son - Jesus. I am concerned that we are creating a God in our image... God is Who God is, and we cannot change His attributes - His perfection, and His total otherness (holiness)... We are to love God for Who He is, not who we want Him to be.
Andy W.

Subject: New Millenium Jesus film
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Tina\

What a wonderful film! I have watched Jesus films before and were never much impressed by them. The Jesus portrayed excellently by Jeremy Sisto was very human, a very decent, loving person. I think it is a film that would also be enjoyed by Agnostics or non-Christians. This is the Jesus I'd like to think he was, someone who laughed, cried, danced, played with children and win everyone's hearts with his wonderful words and charismatic smile. The crucifiction scene, though I knew it was coming, was very heartbreaking for me. The ending was wonderful and full of hope. I am not a religious person, but I appreciate the teachings of Christ about being kind and forgiving to one another. This film inspires me to be a better, kinder, more sympathetic person.

Subject: Jesus on CBS
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Jenni

Dear Sir, I have been visiting your webpage for the Jesus Miniseries many times lately in anticipation for the movie and have found it very interesting and informative. Last night I saw the conclusion of "Jesus" and loved it. In your interview with Mr. Minoli you asked if a complete version (with the 40 minutes cut) would be released and he responded yes. I called CBS after finishing the film and the version they are selling is only what CBS showed. Do you have any idea when the complete version will be released in the U.S.? I would love to see it all. Thankfully, our local CBS affiliate showed the alternate ending with Jesus in modern dress and I absolutely loved it. Anyway, thank you very much for any help you can give me in this manner. God bless, Jenni

Subject: A Very Fine Movie
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Anthony

I saw both parts of JESUS this week, and in looking for Web information on it, I came across this website for the first time. Predictably, the modern Zealots and Pharisees have been condemning it for being "unfaithful to the inerrantworduhGOD" in every jot and tittle. Or for a two-second glimpse of Mary Magdalen (the lovely actress Debra Messing) in profile in a sheer gown, while leaving one of her prostitution clients in Part I. Funny, the same people don't even mention a scene where Barabbas and his men raid a village that Jesus is visiting, and kill off a whole Roman squad with their swords, stabbing and slashing, blood all over the place, or when Roman soldiers kill a lot of men to quell a riot in the Temple. THAT'S okay, it seems, not even worth mentioning, but the sight of less of a woman's body than you can see in many an Old Master painting in a book at the library--that's shocking, unforgivable, could possibly ruin a small child's morals for life unless he/she is saved by a fast-forward button and a lecture on Sin. No wonder the Europeans laugh at us and call us the biggest hypocrites around.

Not to worry: soon after meeting Jesus, Mary Magdalen nixes the negligees, and by the end of the film she is dressed about as simply and modestly as the Virgin Mary. Both the killing scenes and the very brief, tasteful Mary Magdalen bit, and any additional dialogue in any Bible movie, are indeed "artistic license"--filling in the Biblical blanks, painting a picture for people, and employing television's properties as a visual medium, especially for moderns who might not pay attention to anything if it weren't on a screen and weren't interesting to look at. It was clearly put across (of course) that Mary Magdalen's life of prostitution was sinful and something to repent from and not do any longer. On this note, I'm amazed that nobody objected to the veil-removing dance that Salome does for Herod Antipas; certainly they understand that they are watching a dance of purely erotic appeal by a young beauty for a morally corrupt older man; Herod did not pledge "anything" to Salome because he admired her professional footwork. Now that I've reminded people, maybe one of the Puritans will object to it as well. Some people fear anything that extends itself beyond the cultural level of those Bible cartoons they sometimes show on CBN.

The Pope gave a private audience to Jeremy Sisto (who played Jesus, one of the toughest jobs for any actor, brilliantly) and Jacqueline Bisset (the Blessed Virgin Mary), along with a couple of the Italian producers, last November. They presented him with a copy of the video, and he thanked them for "the commitment to evangelize? and expressed the hope that these films with Biblical subjects ?will contribute to make the revealed message known to the people of our time, giving them a satisfactory answer to the questions and doubts they carry in their hearts.? He said he trusts that films of a religious nature ?will be a valuable help for the indispensable dialogue that is taking place in our time between culture and faith. Particularly, in the realm of film and television, where history, art, and communicative languages come together, your work as professionals and believers is especially useful and necessary," and went on to say: ?of itself, culture is communication: of men among themselves and of men in the environment in which they live. Enlightened by faith, it is capable of reflecting the very dialogue of the person with God in Christ. Faith and culture, therefore, are called to meet and interact precisely in the domain of communication.?

I understand that for some of the anti-Catholic bigots who are still in the religious-wars mentality of the 17th century, the Pope's approval will be conclusive proof of the ungodliness of the film, but some others will grant that he has a certain amount of expertise in the Bible and modern evangelism, knew the prior work in filming the Bible of the Italian producers, and approved of the project. The home video and a soundtrack CD is available for a while at; look it up under the show "Jesus." I don't know if it includes the additional 40 minutes or so that was on European TV but was cut for the American television release, probably to allow commercials to be shown. I believe that a Spanish-language video version is available. It said so at the beginning of the program.

Also, overseas viewers might be interested to know that in the U.S.A., the film ended with Jesus ascending into Heaven in a flash of white light, while the disciples and the women knelt on the floor in their robes, forming a very traditional picture. The European ending where He is next seen embracing children on a modern-day waterfront that looked like someplace in Europe (suffer the little children to come unto me) was not seen here, but they showed it on the late-night television news program where I live, after Part II. I don' t know if this cut was because of time pressure, or because the producers felt that Americans might not react well to the "irreverence" of showing the Lord in modern clothes on a modern street, but would prefer (as I do, actually) the full-Bible-pageant look.
Yours truly, Anthony.
Please don't show my e-mail address; I already get enough.

Subject: inspire or infuriate
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: kenneth

Let's face it. Jesus cannot be captured by mans hand. He will always allude the artist, the actor, the director. His portrayal will always inspire and/or infuriate. The best of the lot have one thing in common though. When your done watching, or you return from the gallery, what you saw sends you back to your knees and your Bible. Minoli succeeds here for me. It was good enough and bad enough to make me once more turn to Him with a glad heart and a thankful spirit.
Thanks for your site. It's a pleasure.

Subject: The Best Thing About this "Jesus" is it's Devil
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: "Mike Perschon"

The Best Thing About this "Jesus" is it's Devil First things first; this is a film review page. While I know it does look with eyes of belief, it is never overly 'theological' (a term which gets abused on such a regular basis it's a wonder it still has any power). A suggestion to submissions; review the film, don't get pretentious about your Christological stances. Show a little more grace to those who don't share your opinion. That said, I wanted to wait until I had seen part two of the CBS miniseries to voice any opinions I have about the film. I'd like to start out by sending kudos to Michele Eldred (see below) for her excellent approach to parenting and observing the arts within that relationship, and then get right on with saying I really enjoyed the film.

I'm the multimedia producer for a postmodern church in Edmonton, way up in the Great White North of Canada. As such, it is my constant job to be on the look out for great imagery of the Bible. I no longer look for one overall, cohesively amazing rendering of the life of Christ. I look at what scenes each version accomplishes well, rather than harping on parts which it doesn't. (If I DID have to choose a 'definitive' movie on the life of Christ, I'd pick "Jesus of Nazareth" starring Robert Powell. It's got the length (6 hours) to encompass a great deal of the Gospels, but still approaches the subject as art, not doctrine or dogma.

Like many, I loved Bruce Marchiano as Jesus in "Matthew", but felt the film got bogged down by its desire to be so tied to the NIV script that the narrator was constantly telling us what was happening, when we could see quite well what was going on. It remains #2 on my Jesus' movie list, and ABC's recent "Miracle Maker" has place 3. The CBS version is presently at 4.)

So rather than re-hash anything that has already been said (again, read Michele Eldred, I couldn't agree with her more about the powerful witnessing tool ANY version of the life of Christ released to the mass market is) I thought I'd comment on what I thought were the great moments in this version.

1) The Temptations (BOTH) Not since "Greatest Story Ever Told" when Donald Pleasance played a creepy hermit-like Satan has the role of the tempter been given a face. And it's about time it happened again. Whatever one may feel about the demonology of Satan in an Armani, disembodied voices have all the dramatic presence of watching paint dry. Just think of how sensational this production COULD have made this scene, and be glad it didn't turn into an "End of Days" CGI mess. The way Satan kept showing Jesus the future was very powerful as well. Which of us wouldn't have given in when Satan showed Jesus starving, poverty stricken people? I found myself brought to tears when the Devil returned to tempt Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and realized that indeed, we as a people choose war over the love. Even the way Christians treat each other online (the number of people who refused to display their email on this very page for fear of getting spammed or hate mailed is proof) is more a choice of war than love. At any rate, the best scenes in the film in my estimation.

2) Walking on Water - Okay, I liked it because it's rarely attempted (The "Matthew" video being the only other instance I know of) and because they pulled it off really well. This looked like a storm, and Jesus looked like he was walking ON water. My only regret? "You of little faith" took on it's usual interpretation, which is that Jesus was really disappointed with Peter. I far prefer Marchiano's laughter like a father helping up a child who has fallen off their bike.

3) The Last Supper - The way Sisto as Christ ripped up that bread really foreshadowed how his body would be broken. Very concise, to the point, not overly maudlin. One of the better last suppers to have been filmed.

4) Debra Messing as Mary Magdalene. My wife commented that the female portrayals in this film really helped her relate to the story, a weakness in many other versions. Messing was the most emotional at the cross, and conveyed the most joy at Jesus' resurrection. No mean feat, considering she's Jewish. She also was the impetus for my last "fave" scene - when Jesus said to her, "Come with us." The scene ends with Mary saying "You treated her (the woman caught in adultery) like she was worth something." "She is," Jesus replies, and we who know Him knew the next line before it was spoken, for it has been spoken to us, "And so are you." Here's the heart of the movie.

For those who watched only "the letter" of the film, my condolences; to those who heard its' heart (especially if it was for the first time) let us say, amen, amen. Peace to you all. Please go ahead and print my address. Those of you who feel the need to blow a brother's opinion out of the water, do what you must. My hope is that we'll see a little more love and not so much war between brothers and sisters, and we'll be able to print our addresses to open doors of communication, not fear and despair.

Subject: (no subject)
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Lois from Canada

Although some of the inaccuracies in the movie grated, on the whole I was pleased with it. The scene of Satan tempting Jesus as he prayed in the garden really touched me. I loved the desperation that Satan showed as he realized he could not tempt Jesus to walk away from it all. I believe this scene is a challenge to us all. Satan claims Christ will die in vain since humans will not be able to love as Christ wants us to. It is up to us ensure, through our love and witness that Christ did not die in vain. As a minister who is in the midst of preparing this Sunday's sermon based on the readings of the Revised Common Lectionary, where Love and the movement of the Spirit figure prominently, this scene spoke to me. No, it was not Biblically accurate. Could it teach us something about God's love, Christ's sacrifice and the movement of the Spirit? Definitely! May we respond to Christ's call to love as he does and may we trust the Spirit to enhance and enliven all we do for good in Christ's name. If each one of us who calls Jesus Lord tries to love as Christ would have us love, Satan will have every reason to feel despartate.
Yours in Christ, Lois from Canada

Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Jen

I was excited to hear that finally a portrayal of the life of Christ was to be shown on public television. What a teriffic opportunity for unbelievers to see their need for Christ in their life, and for believer's to renew their love for God! I was very disappointed when I did see it though. I think it was great to show Jesus as a laughing, happy person. But it was inaccurate in many events of Jesus' life. I don't know about who producers were of the miniseries. But I think they should have read the real story first. I am also disappointed to hear that so many who call themselves Christians commend the miniseries. "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" (I Corintians 5:6) Please do not post my e-mail address.

Subject: Exceptional Portrayal
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Jayne

I found the Jesus miniseries moving and enjoyable, regardless of the inaccuracies or "liberties" that were taken in some of it's interpretation. The overall message is what is most important and timely for our society - love of God, love of humanity, and Jesus with us, IN us - here and now. I also felt the qualities of the actor who portrayed Jesus were amazing. His portrayal truly touched me and felt exceptionally real. I could relate to him as Jesus and felt like Jesus was speaking through him and right into my heart. The scenes of Jesus suffering, his crucifixtion and death were particularly moving. Bringing Jesus "to life" in this way, making him an immediate and real presence, godly yet touchable and so universally human - this has such immense value, and is a welcome counterpart to the sometimes rigid structure and archaic feel of organized religion and rote dogma. Given the limitations of film and the probable politics of movie-making, I think this is an exceptional portrayal that lives and breathes a beautiful message.

Subject: Jesus mini series
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000

I do not understand those who expound the virtue of portraying Jesus in a "new light", when the portrayal is so obviously fraught with inaccuracies? Reality is always much more remarkable than fantasy. Why must Hollywood continually blunder into error? Sadly, this story about Jesus was like no other; especially the One who truly is! Please read "the book" for an accurate description!

Subject: JESUS, THE MINI-SERIES: Spectacle over Substance
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Pete

JESUS had such great promise, especially the portrayal by the lead actor... he portrayed him with dignity, humor, passion and love. Unfortunately, the story he was placed in was hollow and empty. The creators of this version of his life seemed more concerned with the special effects than with the message. One could harp on and on about Jesus' reaction to Joseph's death (which was implausible) and the portrayal of John the Baptist (which was laughable), but the real crime here is that, during his mission, the creators of this film did not have Jesus speak ONE parable! Not ONE!

They skipped over ALL of the substance and reason for Jesus existence to get to the flashy digital effects! How ludicrous and completely disappointing. It was through the parables that Jesus' mission and the kingdom of God was revealed and yet they didn't deem it important enough to include in a portrayal of his life??? For example, Jesus starts stating the Beatitudes, but is interrupted by the crowd and they just jump over it and get right to the walking on water. They seemed to rush to the "dramatic" visual moments without taking ONE opportunity to have Jesus state the TRUE reason why he came. It's like watching a film about Michael Jordan and never showing him play basketball or a film about Michaelangelo and never see him paint or sculpt. And this wasn't just a story about an athlete or an artists, it was a story about the Son of God!

People watch Jesus films to see what they hear every Sunday COME ALIVE through talented actors and this production deprived us of every opportunity to feel that joy. We wish to "hear" Jesus speak the words we've heard and read our whole lives. It gives us an opportunity to make those words and messages live and breath within us. The story of Jesus according to the Gospels is one of the most powerful stories ever written. Yet, the producers of this version chose to ignore the documented version and stress all of the things they added. Jesus picking out his Apostles looked like kids getting picked for kick-ball in Junior High (I hope I don't get picked last!). That's more powerful than the parable of the Prodigal Son or did they just want a photo-op? And the "rapport" between Pontious Pilate and his assistant from Rome was idiotic ("He, assistant, watch this, I'm gonna be really clever here").

Almost EVERY powerful phrase that Jesus states in the Bible was glossed over for effects and interpretation. What a waste. And out of all of the dramatic events shown, the crucifixion lasted under five minutes of air time! Hec, Jesus temptations by Satan took longer than that! Do these people have a clue as to WHY this story is told??? In the end, it's the weakest film done by this production team which has brought so many other Biblical dramas to life on TNT (Abraham, Moses, etc.). Out of all of their films, this looked the cheapest, both in look and in substance. And out of ALL the stories in the Bible, you'd think they would do THIS one right! A great opportunity lost with a weak, hollow and unfulfilling telling of the life of Jesus. Stick with JESUS OF NAZARETH to see a GREAT film that captures the essence and message of Jesus' life.

Subject: Loved it
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Larry Kinder

I think the movie was great. People who have never read the bible could watch this movie and learn the nature and purpose of Christ. The scripture writers never whitewashed or avoided writing about sin and neither did the movie. The real shame is how many churches and Christians today fail to be like Jesus. We are a dull, dead bunch of followers of a fun loving risen Savior. We worship a book instead of the Lord. We take one verse out of the book prophosy (Revelation 22:18) and apply to all 66 books in the bible. I only wish you included Jesus telling Mary Magdalene "But go, tell his disciples AND PETER" as a reminder that God still loves us even when we fail.
Larry Kinder

Subject: A Bold, Powerful Interpretation of the Gospel
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000
From: Jon

Dear David: Thanks for your wonderful site. After watching Parts 1 and 2 of "Jesus: The Epic Miniseries", I am very pleased that CBS decide to air this bold, powerful interpretation of the Gospel. Part 2 was less speculative than Part 1, and more rooted in Scripture (especially John's Gospel, as in the account of the Resurrection)?I hope as many people saw it as saw Part 1. But even the speculation in Part 1 (Mary of Bethany's crush on Jesus, for example, or John the Baptist's initial view of Jesus as just an ordinary man in need of repentance) was not necessarily out-of-bounds. The miniseries doesn't say that Jesus had sins, only that John thought He had sins, which, while not consistent with a literal reading of Matt. 3:13-17, is quite consistent with John 1:29-34, in which John doesn't recognize Who Jesus really is before Jesus is baptized. (I think the difficulty of reconciling literal interpretations of these two portraits of Jesus' baptism shows that we shouldn't always assume that God's Word is presenting a strict chronology of events.)

What I liked most about the miniseries was its effective portrayal of the full humanity of Jesus, Who is fully God yet, in His humility and love for humanity, became "like us in all ways except sin" (as confessed by the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451, and taught in Heb. 2:14-17 and 4:15). Jesus' Jewishness (Rom. 9:5), His growth in wisdom (Luke 2:52), His sense of humor (Luke 6:21), His playfulness (in contrast to John the Baptist's utter seriousness?Luke 7:31-34), His anguish over the death of others (John 11:35), His struggle with not all of His prayer requests being granted (Luke 22:39-46), His agony on the Cross (Mark 15:37)?all of these were evident in the miniseries. Yet as the miracle scenes and Resurrection sequence indicated, this Jesus was also portrayed as the true Son of God. I thought the temptation scenes (both in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane) were quite good, and addressed some of the stumbling blocks people have in accepting Jesus and His Gospel (such as the behavior of many so-called Christians throughout the centuries).

I agree that this miniseries wasn't perfect (I thought the apocryphal story of Jesus bringing the dead bird to life was quite unnecessary?perhaps it was included to allude to a similar story in the Koran). The miniseries is a fallible interpretation of the Gospel, just like any other human work of art or any preacher's sermon. But I don't think it violates Rev. 22:18-19; it's not presenting itself as Scripture Without some artistic license, there would be no such thing as art, and even sermons often involve speculation about things that are not clear from Scripture. My prayer is that, despite its faults, the Spirit will use this miniseries to bring many people closer to God's true Son, Who became fully human and died to show us God's love and free us from our sins (1 John 4:9-10), and Who, following His resurrection, promised to be with us always as we take His Message to all people (Matt. 28:18-20).
- Jon

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