Month: March 2016

Tonight on ABC: Of Kings and Prophets

of_kings_and_prophets_abcOn Tuesday March 8 (tonight) at 10:00 ET the US network ABC will premiere a new drama called Of Kings and Prophets.  It tells the story of Saul, David, Jonathan, and Michal from the book of 1 Samuel.

I won’t be able to view it for a few days because I’m teaching late tonight in Philadelphia and won’t get home until 11:00 pm.

In regards to the amount of sex and violence in the series, writers Adam Cooper and Bill Collage said that they hope to push the envelope “as far as we can.”  Personally, I’m not one to avoid sex and violence in Scripture (check out my last two books on sex and violence in the Old Testament), because if you did that, you’d be skipping over a lot of the Bible.

However, when I retell the story, I stick pretty close to the original script.  We’ll see what ABC does in that regard.

But I’m going to cut ABC some slack in telling the story. Christians often judge film and TV portrayals of Scripture based solely on how closely they stick to the text of the Bible, which is unfair and unreasonable.  Artists and story-tellers need to be allowed freedom to be creative. I like what Dreamworks did at the beginning of The Prince of Egypt. They gave a disclaimer that while the story they told in their film went beyond the biblical text, it remained true to essence of the book of Exodus.

Of Kings and Prophets has an interesting cast, not surprisingly a few British actors (Saul, David), but also a few people of color (finally), including an actor actually from Israel (Samuel). So, not only white folk from the US and the UK (with blue eyes), which is a good thing.

From the list of characters, it looks like this first season is going to stay in 1 Samuel–there’s no character named Bathsheba yet.  They are hoping for a 2nd season.  I’ll do anything I can to encourage more versions of the Bible on the small screen.

I hope to post something after I’ve seen the first episode.  If you’re reading this after watching it, what did you think?

Where’s God in Esther?

MartinHandfordWally&Friends

Where’s Wally (Waldo)?

When we lived in England and our sons we young we would “read” the Where’s Wally (or in the US, Where’s Waldo?) books.

A tiny image of Wally in his read and white striped shirt would be hidden some where in a detailed picture with literally hundreds of other people many of whom would be wearing red and/or white objects, that at first glance might appear to be Wally.

While you might think this game would be boring, many of the individuals were doing wild, crazy, and humorous things which inevitably would keep us entertained, until at last someone would yell, “There he is.”  The lost Wally was finally found.

I’m teaching a course now at BTS on the books of Daniel and Esther (Why those two books? Good question, perhaps to be discussed in another blog.).  But we’ve finally gotten to the point in the class when we’ll be looking at the book of Esther.  I’m really looking forward to our discussions, but this will be the first time I’ve taught the book in depth.

I’m a bit concerned it might feel a bit like Where’s Waldo?

The problem with Esther, as many Bible readers already know, is that God is never mentioned in the book.  Neither of the most common terms for God appear (elohim, YHWH) any where in the book. Unlike the book of Daniel, the book of Esther never records anyone praying, receiving a vision or a dream, or meeting with an angelic being.

When Christians talk about the book of Esther, it can feel a bit like we’re playing Where’s Waldo?  We search diligently as we read each verse, running our finger over the text looking for God until we reach a point and yell out, “There he is!”

I’m trying to avoid a “Where’s Waldo?” approach to finding God in the pages of Esther, but perhaps that’s inevitable.  The divinely inspired biblical authors felt the need to record Esther’s amazing story, and then include in the canon of Scripture, so I’m sure they had a good reason to do so.

What do you think?  Where do you find God in the book of Esther?

(As much as I’d like to think that I came up with the Where’s Waldo analogy, I may have copied it from some where. I just can’t recall. If you know where let me know.  If you think I’m inconsistent, I call him Wally in the UK and Waldo in the US.)

Image by Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23173518