• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and a few bits and pieces on the Bible.

    Monday, December 21, 2015

    Ben Hur (1959)

    Ben Hur is that rarest of Bible films - one that was both commercially and critically successful. The winner of an unprecedented 11 Oscars and still 13th in the list highest grossing films at the US box office (when adjusted for inflation) it's achievements are on a par with its eye-popping sets and its humongous 4 hour running time. And yet whilst many think of it as the best of all the Bible films, there are many who argue it's not even the greatest adaptation of General Lew Wallace's 1880 novel.

    That honour arguably goes to Fred Niblo's 1925 silent version of the film which had in it's crew a certain William Wyler. Wyler quickly progressed from his role as assistant director to directing a few short films so that by the time the first talking pictures came about Wyer was a full director in his own right. His experience on Niblo's epic stayed with him though and following his big 50s successes with (two of my favourite films) Roman Holiday and Big Country he returned to Wallace's most famous novel.

    Many of the elements in Big Country find their way into Ben Hur - the two feuding men locked into a destructive cycle of revenge; the epic scale of the film, replete with their deserts and dusty landscapes; and, of course, the casting of Charlton Heston. By this point Heston already had turned in his career defining role in another epic remake The Ten Commandments (1956).Both characters have the same moral compass even if Judah Ben Hur is thrown a little off course by his desire for revenge. It makes Ben Hur a more interesting character than Heston's rather one dimension Moses. The darkest moment is just as a beaten Messala is awaiting Ben Hur's visit before he dies (pictured above). Heston's frame stands menacingly in the iron door blocking out the light like the angel of death come for a prisoner. The music underscores the darkness of the moment, for both men. Yet, even so one of the film's weaknesses is that seems so much harder for the audience to see in Heston's face the sort of seething thirst for revenge that so many of the characters in the film seem compelled to comment upon.

    It's a thirst of a different nature however that provides so many of the film's pivotal moments. Having (accidentally) almost assassinated the new governor of his home city of Jerusalem Judah finds himself slave trailing through the desert. He arrives at Nazareth almost dead with dehydration and is only saved when a mysterious member of the village defies Judah's captors and gives him a cup of water. Then after escaping from a sinking Roman ship on which he had been a galley slave he finds himself trapped on the open sea his thirst only made worse by the dangerously undrinkable water that surrounds him. Later trekking back to Jerusalem from Rome, where he has made a free man, he takes a moment to bask in the shade and refresh himself and meets shortly before meeting chariot racing enthusiast Sheik Ilderim. And finally, having found that seeing his sworn enemy die in a chariot race did not ease his thirst for revenge he finds himself on a road in Jerusalem moved by compassion to offer that same, mysterious stranger a cup of water when it is his turn to need water.

    Wallace's book was subtitled "A Tale of the Christ" and whilst all three of its cinematic adaptations have trimmed down the pseudo-biblical material, it is still very much an integral part of the film. Here the film starts with a nativity sequence even before the opening credits. Whilst Jesus makes various appearances throughout the film, this sequence is as much about Balthasar as it is about the newborn in the manger. The magus meets Judah at several points in the latter part of the film as he seeks to answer the question about who that special baby grew up to be. Not dissimilarly Jesus also makes fleeting appearances as the aforementioned compassionate stranger and then as a preacher at a suspiciously high-altitude gathering, though as Judah turns away we never hear his actual words.

    But it's at the end of the film where Jesus begins to dominate proceedings, even despite already being in captivity. During Judah's absence his sister and mother have contracted leprosy and are hiding away, near death, in a colony. The stories of Jesus, combined with Judah's own desperation, lead him to carry his sister into the centre of Jerusalem where the people recoil in horror. Despite Jesus' impending crucifixion

    For all their good intentions these final few scenes are rather problematic. Firstly the film's dramatic tension rapidly begins to dissipate. Despite it's nearly four hour running time it's only in these moments that the film begins to drag. Secondly whilst the authors of various gospels, especially Matthew's, try to highlight the importance of Jesus' death by furnishing it with various supernatural events, none of it really seems consistent with the type of healing event which happens to Judah's sister and mother here and so typified Jesus' early ministry. Thirdly whilst the film itself clearly links the healing of Judah's family to Jesus, it's not at all clear why any of the characters within the story would do the same. The Christ of this story has only been helpful, kind and rather charismatic. There's no real mention of his miraculous healings.

    I concede that these are fairly minor nitpicks and thankfully they don't detract from the magnificent fare elsewhere in the film. The chariot scene rightly stands out as one of the greatest ever scenes in the movies (and my seven year old loved seeing how it had been appropriated by the makers of The Phantom Menace). It bides its time before setting the two leads head to head, by which time the villainous Messala has already shown ample evidence of what he is capable of and Judah has already shown his mettle. The stunts push right up to the boundary of believability without ever leaping over them and Messala's comeuppance is so all encompassing that is generates the right degree of compassion despite of his previous villainy. Almost as good is the boat battle which forms the high point of the first part of the film.

    Yet for all the impressive sets, costumes and stunts, it's the intimate humanity which gives Ben Hur its beating heart - the pain of betrayal, the determination to survive, the hope of justice, the fickleness of victory and the anger of loss. For the most part Wyler knew precisely how to use the action to bring these emotions to the fore in a way that stressed the similarities between his protagonists and his audiences so that he could use the extraordinary to shine light on the ordinary.

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    Wednesday, December 16, 2015

    The Seven Ages of Bible Films


    Over the years there have been various books and articles written on the development of Bible films some of which have attempted to sub-divide the material in some way. Whilst some have done this thematically (e.g. Adele Reinhartz's "Jesus of Hollywood") the majority have sought to present films in chronological order and then, if they have attempted to sub-divide them at all, have tended to go by decade (e.g. Kinnard and Davis' "Divine Images").

    However, the more I think about this subject the more I find that whilst the by-decades approach might work well in certain contexts, it doesn't work as well as it might in others. So I'd like to propose a new sub-division into seven periods which link the films to both social forces outside of the industry but also to do with key developments directly related to particular Bible films and their reception.

    I think the history breaks down into these categories fairly naturally, but it's kind of nice that it breaks into seven - a number with far more significance in the Bible rather than say eight or six. But I'd be interested to hear what people think about this - both the number of eras and the points of transition from one to the next. Anyway, enough pre-amble - here they are:

    The Early Silent Era
    No shocking revelations as to where to start this initial period, but I'd suggest that this era runs through the various series of films from Pathé, Gaumont and Vitagraph to the first "feature length" films such as Olcott's From the Manger to the Cross (1912) and Griffith's Judith of Bethulia (1914). However it would be another film from D.W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation, that launched a new era in silent film in general such that his follow up would mark the start of a new period.

    From Intolerance to the End of the Silent Era.
    Whilst some would argue Griffith's work is not as influential as is sometimes claimed, Intolerance was an important film for Bible movies. Before it they were largely small, pious affairs adapting the stories from the Bible in a fairly simple manner. Afterwards they became grand spectacles, like the works of DeMille and Curtiz. And when the silent ea ended Bible films went back into their shell for a little while.

    The Early Talkie Period
    The first talkies largely bypassed the Bible. The depression meant that the large budgets now required were no longer so readily available; industry regulation clipped the wings even of films which served up their overt sexuality with a morality tale. And then World War Two started and budgets tightened still further. A few notable Bible films were made in this period chief among them Golgotha but it was not until 1949 that a new Bible film would really make a splash.

    From Samson and Delilah to Greatest Story Ever Told
    The fourth period is often dubbed the Golden Era of Bible films, but that is perhaps to give too little credit to earlier periods when biblical films did tremendous business. Nevertheless, DeMille's 1949 epic Samson and Delilah triumphed at the box office and suddenly everyone wanted to make, and watch, a Bible film. It worked well for about ten years, aided by the arrival of widescreen aspect ratios, but by the time that King of Kings was released in 1961 the tide was beginning to turn and 1965's The Greatest Story Ever Told put the final nail in the coffin. John Huston's The Bible squeezed through after that, but to no better results, and it is very much a part of this era rather than the one which would follow the fall of the big-budget biblical epic.

    The Experimental Period
    The failure of the traditional, largely faithful adaptations of the Bible resulted in an unprecedented time of creative freedom, as filmmakers were freed from the restraints of having to appeal to the widest possible audience in order to get a decent return on their huge budgets. Whilst a few conservative and traditional films snuck through during this period, the more controversial films that were released during this period speak for themselves - Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Il Messia, Life of Brian. Last Temptation of Christ and Jesus of Montreal. Eventually though religious groups began to organise themselves in protest against what they perceived as an attack on their beliefs. The campaigns went off the scale with Last Temptation and even lowish budget but controversial films like that became too risky.

    The Millennial Period
    The impending arrival of the new millennium brought with it an increase of interest in the man at the centre of the celebration. This combined with the pressures brought upon studios led to the arrival of a whole host of more faithful, but (largely) less artistically challenging adaptations. The Bible Collection tweaked the story round the edges, sometimes trivialising the story somewhat, but it became the most extensive selection of film based on the Bible. Not far behind it was the Visual Bible's word for word adaptations of Matthew and Acts. Whilst a few more creatively interesting films got made (The Cross, The Miracle Maker) and the odd more controversial film (Book of Life) still got through overall the tone was fairly traditional a move that came to a head with the 2004 release of The Passion of the Christ, in many ways the epitome of this move to a more traditional portrayal of the Bible on film.

    After The Passion of the Christ
    To say the runaway success of The Passion of the Christ was unexpected is an understatement, but it lead to two different groups of people seeking to make Bible films, but with largely disappointing results (from both a creative and financial point of view). One the one hand were conservative Christians trying to get Hollywood to finance their pet projects. A huge proportion of the films announced failed to make it onto the big screen and those that did were panned by critics. On the other were the money men, who smelt the opportunity, but lacked the necessary understanding of the landscape that was required to make money. There were a few successes - The History Channel's The Bible drew better than expected audiences - but overall he two groups failed to find projects that would satisfy both their objectives. Typical of this phenomena is 2014's Noah - too experimental to do well with Christians, yet too biblical to do well with fans of Aronofsky's previous films, the film failed to find a big enough audience. No surprise then that 2015 and 2016's seem to have approved with lower budgets but only needing to appeal to a more niche demographic in order to make a return on its investment.

    It will be interesting to revisit this post in the years to come to see if, and indeed when, a new era arrives and in which direction if moves.

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    Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Dinah and the Shechemites in Film

    Having looked at The Red Tent last month I thought I'd things off with a quick look at how different films portray the incident with Dinah, her brothers and the Shechemites. Given that it's a relatively obscure part of Genesis, it has only been covered a few times on the screen, but there are some significant variations between the four depictions with which I am familiar.

    The Bible: Genesis (1979)
    The first Bible film to cover the story of Dinah was one that pretty much had to. The New Media Bible project was meant to deliver a word for word portrayal of the whole Bible, though in the end only Genesis and Luke were covered and even then I say "pretty much" because certain parts of Genesis (e.g. the Tower of Babel) were omitted.

    At the time this film was made the broadly accepted view of what constituted rape was different than it is today. Most, now, (in the UK at least) would agree that what is sometimes called date rape fully qualifies as rape. 36 years ago when this film there was no such cultural consensus. So it's perhaps not surprising that this film depicts the rape of Dinah as being of the more violent variety. She is grabbed, out of the blue, in the town square and pulled off to a more discrete location. This is the only film that depicts the incident in quite such a black and white manner.

    In a not-dissimilar vein, it's interesting that as Dinah is "rescued" from her brothers from the smouldering ruins of Shechem, she is shoved around by them as if they are angry with her. I think this blaming of the victim seems to be something the film wants us to see and accept as offensive, though whether this is due to what they see as her complicity in her rape, or her acceptance of her subsequent marriage is unclear.

    The strangest thing about this clip is the way in which the men of Shechem are so compliant in accepting their fate. On hearing the news they simply shrug and walk off and the camera neither seems to anticipate a further reaction or find their fate shocking in any way. The scene is only a little longer than 5 minutes.

    The Bible Collection: Joseph (1995)
    The Bible Collection devotes separate films to the stories of Jacob and Joseph and, perhaps surprisingly, this episode is covered within the longer Joseph film rather than the more obvious location within her father's story. In the cultural understanding of the time, daughters were seen as the property of their father's before marriage.

    The story is given quite a more screen time here - around 15 minutes - and is set at a wedding celebration, contrasting the "right" way of doing things, rather than the way Shechem chooses to act. Dinah herself is far younger here: she's very much still a girl rather than a woman. This is a slightly tricky area. Whilst on the one hand marriage did take place at a far younger age (and of course Dinah has not yet been considered ready to be married) the Bible Collection's leading actors are consistently very much of the western contemporary world, ethnically white and of ages to match (e.g. Louise Lombard who was 29 when she played the young virginal Esther in the Bible Collection's 1999 adaptation).

    The situation is further complicated by the seemingly flirty eye contact between the obviously underage child and her rapist-in-waiting. When she is suddenly taken ill and is lead out to a back room her attacker makes his move. Whilst the scene makes it clear there was no consent, not least Dinah's screams, I find the eye contact rather troubling. I'm not convinced the film wants to rule out any blame on Dinah's part.

    When Hamor subsequently approaches Jacob the idea of these Shechemites getting circumcised is very much Jacob's idea and, again, there are more objections from the sons of Israel than from the soon to be scarred men of Shechem. They attack and give a rather clichéd war cry as they 'sneak' up to the "unsuspecting" city, but the depiction of the slaughter is not very graphic and Jacob's rebuke to his sons is no particularly powerful.


    La genèse (1999)
    The longest and most interesting portrayal of these events is from Cheick Oumar Sissoko's La Genèse (1999) which retells the story as an African tribal conflict. Like Joseph it does seem to hold Dinah partially responsible. She is depicted as a precocious flirt who, along with a couple of young boys, pushes Shechem too far.

    But the film's African perspective highlights other concepts that westerners easily overlook. For example the city dwelling Shechemites resent the nomadic Israelites and criticise thm for being rootless and without culture (all the while Dinah is being held in their city). There's also the grim image of a bloodied sheet being displayed for the waiting crowd's approval. They are made complicit in the act which somehow transforms from an ac of sexual frustration to a political act on behalf of Hamor's subjects.

    Perhaps it is a father defending his son, but initially Hamor blames Dinah for what has occurred, but then the film becomes the first to give Dinah a voice. She speaks back and rebukes Hamor and he seems to respond to her chastisement. Throughout the film Dinah is portrayed as a strong woman, unwilling to submit to what the various men and the patriarchal culture expects of her.

    When Hamor seeks out Jacob he does not do it face to face initially as Jacob remains mourning in his tent. It is left to Leah to express the family's anger, even in the face of many gifts from Hamor. The idea to tell Hamor's people to get circumcised arises only once Jacob has held a second discussion with his sons.

    But in marked contrast to 1979 version this film grimly portrays the Shechemites mass circumcising in wince inducing fashion. Firstly there is the queue of men waiting ominously (and unforgettably) for their appointment with the man with a meat cleaver and then there are the post-operation scenes of the various men hobbling around trying to minimise the pain. I highlights the link between the crowd complicity in Dinah's rape and their communal punishment. Meanwhile their womenfolk just stand by and mock them. The Hebrews mock Shechem also. "His crown has fallen and he can't bend to pick it up"

    When the slaughter does come  it is disturbingly thorough. One of the Hebrews gives pause when faced with a baby boy, but a fellow countryman insists in no uncertain terms that all the males should be killed. The only survivor is Hamor - in stark contrast to the text where he also is killed by Simeon and Levi - left to face the cruel implications of his fate: not only has he lost his son and his friends but his tribe will die out with him.

    The Red Tent (2014)
    I've expressed my views on this film already elsewhere but essentially what The Red Tent does is stress how in the cultural of the time the story occurred/was written rape was primarily about the lack of the father's consent rather than the daughter's. This is why, for example, in that rather troubling passage in Deut. 22:23-29 we find s girl potentially being given in marriage to her rapist, or even stoned, but not being punished if the "rape" happens in the country. The passage simply doesn't start from the perspective that consent is the woman's to give. So in this film Dinah is not taken against her will, but her father and brothers are incensed because Jacob has not given his consent.

    The film also has Dinah staying over at Shechem/Shalem's palace the night they have sex which hints at the importance of ancient near east hospitality codes. This further softens up the ground for the brutality of the slaughter scene which follows. It is considerably more violent than any of the previous four.

    I must admit I'm in two minds as to what I think about the way this film portrays the "rape". On the one hand it could be seen as powerfully exposing the sexism of this part of biblical culture where a woman didn't even have a right to control who had sexual access to her own body. But on the other hand it could be criticised for airbrushing or infantilising a potentially horrific event into a teenage girl's romance fantasy. The sheer brutality with which the film shows Dinah's brothers wreaking their revenge suggests the former, but even with that Shalem and Dinah's love affair still feels a bit twee.

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    Sunday, December 06, 2015

    The Formation of the Canon

    This post is number 2 in a series looking at the idea of canonicity and how it might relate to the subject of film and the Bible. Image info below1

    In the first part of this series I laid out three main areas where the idea of canonicity might be helpful, but it seems obvious that before I get into each of those in turn that I should make a few observations on the canon in general and it's formation in particular. There's no shortage of pieces on the internet about the formation of the canon, of course, but it will be useful for me to reacquaint myself with the subject as well as letting those reading the subsequent posts being able to see where I am coming from.

    The first thing that strikes me is that Christians and scholars tend to talk about a canon, whereas it might be more helpful to think in terms of their being two - that of the Hebrew Bible and that of the New Testament. Certainly the process by which the two collections of books became accepted by the church is rather different.

    The Hebrew Bible
    In terms of the "Hebrew" Bible2 the question of when the matter first came on the agenda and, conversely, was finally settled very much depends on who you are talking too. For some the first major formalising step in the process was the creation of the Septuagint sometime between the third century BC and 132 BC. Since this version is quoted by several of the New Testament writers it's clear it had gained a degree of acceptance by the church by the time Jerome emerged on the scene. It's particularly interesting that Jerome translated the deuterocanonical books even though he was rather disparaging about both them and the Septuagint. Nevertheless many of those who in favour of the deuterocanonical books being included in the canon like to trace the discussion back to the formation of the Septuagint. Ultimately the deuterocanonical books were included in the canon ruled on by the Council of Trent and were also included in the King James Bible.

    Others, however, are less keen on the significance of the formation of the Septuagint. They argue for the main importance of the later Jewish discussions about the canon which took place somewhere during the Jewish-Roman wars between 66 and 136 AD. It's often pegged on the Council of Jamnia (said to be held around 90AD) but this has been heavily questioned with many scholars even questioning whether such a council even occurred. Nevertheless, somewhere within the late first to mid second century the Jewish faith accepted that it was only the shorter canon of 39 books that had such special status and so in the 16th century the majority of the Protestant reformers held that the deuterocanonical books ought not to be part of the canon.

    What's clear from the above (other than the fact that this post is going to be far longer than I initially imagined) is that:
    1 - there is a degree of disagreement about what is actually included in the canon,
    2 - the process of how it actually got there is disputed, and that
    3 - who accepts who's version of events/decisions mostly divides along denominational lines rather than being decided by the substantially more difficult process of individuals sifting the evidence to make an informed decision.

    The New Testament Canon
    The New Testament canon formed gradually over the period between the end of the first century AD and the end of the fourth. Contrary to the claims of "The Da Vinci Code" it wasn't all done and dusted by the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Athanasius' use of the term canon in 367 CE to describe the same set of books or the 397 Council of Carthage where the decision of a previous synod to accept those same books as a canon are thought to be significant. And then of course there's Jerome finishing the Vulgate in 405.

    But of course that's only the story in the West. The eastern churches went their own route with the the Syrian "Peshitta" Bible, only comprising of 22 books (even through to the present day3); the Armenian Bible including and then rejecting 3 Corinthians but not accepting Revelation until 1200; and the Coptic and Ethiopian bibles including texts not accepted by any other groups. And then of course there's the reformation where Luther, amongst others, indicated their displeasure with books such as the "right strawy" James.

    Criteria
    All of this raises the question why certain books made the cut and others didn't. What was it that put Matthew and Colossians in a different bracket to Thomas and The Shepherd of Hermas? Different commentators break-down the various, interrelated aspects of this process slightly differently, and at best the criteria are slightly fuzzy, but the main ideas are as follows:

    Apostolic Authorship
    Essentially this is the idea that a work's author had some kind of direct link to Jesus. So for example Paul meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus gave his books special merit. Even at the time here was clearly some fudging around this one. Mark for example qualified through the connection with Peter, Hebrews seems to have been accepted as being Pauline even though hat was disputed even then.

    Of all the criteria this is the one that is most undermined by modern scholarship. It's alright for Romans but what about 2 Timothy? What happens if the author of Matthew wasn't the tax collector? If we accept that as many as three or four John's behind the gospel, the letters and the apocalypse that bear his name, what are the implications. Many conservatives may cling to the traditionally assigned authors but few would argue that this criterion fits in a manner that most moderns would accept. "[It] is possible that certain writings had already asserted themselves as eminently useful and sound before for apostolic contact was discovered".4

    Existing Usage
    Perhaps most important criterion for the early-ish church was the books that were already being widely used. There were no last minute entries into the canon which came from left field. Even at what we would think of as an "early stage" the church already placed high value on the texts that other congregations were using and those that had been used by earlier generations. There were no surprise late additions to suit the zeitgeist. Conversely the reason certain potentially controversial gospels never made the cut is more to do with their limited popularity than a complex conspiracy theory.

    Liturgy
    Not dissimilarly from the previous criterion is this one: provision was generally made for those books which were used in the church's liturgy. In other words, were the texts being used in worship? The church was not just looking for texts that intellectually suited their theology it was also important that something more deep routed was occurring as well. "[Had] the book proved its worth?"5

    Conformity/Orthodoxy
    The last of these questions was how a writing conformed to established orthodoxy primarily in terms of belief, but also in terms of the style of writing. Indeed this may be what left Revelation in the disputed pile for so long but allowed Hebrews (which still had it's detractors) through. The bigger issue however was the theological conformity; or rather the absence of that which was "contrary to orthodoxy".6

    It should be stressed that these criteria were not applied as some kind of rigorous checklist at the hands of bureaucratic pedants, merely that they were the kind of ideas the church fathers were thinking about as they compiled their lists and latterly subdivided them into acknowledged, disputed or rejected texts.

    Observations
    Overall I have rather mixed feelings about the process. Was it a good way of doing things or a bad one? And does it give the canon some kind of credibility in the modern era or not? Furthermore what principles can we draw out that might relate to how the modern era in general, and film in particular, have shaped the canon and its perception?

    One the one hand, it's all rather messy and inexact and some might argue that if this process was the outworking of a single, divine mind then it would suggest a rather muddied and muddled intellect. Yet it seems unlikely that a more decisive process would be any less open to criticism. A sudden decision made by a single person, or group of individuals would be far more open to abuse. Indeed it's interesting that "The Da Vinci Code" skews its "history" in order to present the rather long, drawn out process into the result of a single council.

    Secondly, the role of the church in this process is vital. Certain church traditions hold to sola scriptura - the primacy of scripture above all else. That, I must admit, is the approach I am most comfortable with. But, of course, there's a big problems with that because what was included in scripture is very much down to the role of tradition. There are undoubtedly those that would have preferred it if the handing down of the Bible came to us in a similar fashion to revelation of the words of the Koran.

    A third observation is that just as evolutionary theorists developed the idea of punctuated equilibrium, often the process of canonisation often seems to have been spurred on by the need to react to heresy. Indeed often it is Marcion who is credited with creating the first canon. Often it is a threat - perceived or unperceived - that has been a catalyst for how the true/important parts of Christian writing have been given greater significance.

    Fourthly, whilst there have clearly been key stages in the process, it's notable that evolution and diversity continue to have a role when we consider the world-wide/history-deep church. Yes the end of the fourth century is important, but disagreement continued between East and West (and between the different parts of the Eastern Orthodox church) and furthermore the reformers challenged and changed some of what was considered canonical.

    Following on from that it is important to note that whilst there may well be an approved canon, that in practical terms it has only ever represented part of the story. Few would argue that Habakkuk is of the same importance as the Gospel of John. Many protestants, including myself, would give lip-service to the importance of the deuterocanonical books, but are yet to read them all. Other might pay far more attention to "The Imitation of Christ", "Pilgrim's Progress" or "The Purpose Driven Life" than they do to many of the writings in the actual canon.

    Indeed even the lectionary leaves out certain parts of the canon, or at least leaves them for the midweek services not widely attended, and Sunday Schools and those church traditions that don't adhere to the lectionary especially strongly have always ended up picking and choosing a canon within the canon that expresses the essential truths. When it comes to the question of how film has handled the canon, I think this might prove to be particularly telling and the next post in this series will address that very point.

    1 - The image used at the top of this post is a comic strip from "Winebibber" a sort of Evangelical version of Viz which greatly amused me as a teenager. "Winebibber" was created by Mike Stonelake and Mike Brooks and whilst this is not their funniest ever piece, this particular strip was the first time I really became aware of the idea that there were other texts that didn't make it into the canon. This is only the first half of the strip - I'll use the rest of the strip next time. The image is used with permission.
    2 - It's difficult to find a term here that covers all the bases. Generally I prefer the term "Hebrew Bible" to the "Old Testament", but here it risks confusing the issue because of the division between the texts in the Hebrew language and accepted in Hebrew speaking countries and that of the Greek Septuagint.
    3 - Although a 1905 translation also translated the omitted books.
    4 - Moule, C.F.D., "The Birth of the New Testament". London (Adam & Charles Black), 2nd Edition 1966, p.190
    5 - Moule, C.F.D., "The Birth of the New Testament". London (Adam & Charles Black), 2nd Edition 1966, p.190
    6 - Moule, C.F.D., "The Birth of the New Testament". London (Adam & Charles Black), 2nd Edition 1966, p.189

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