The Bible and the Silver Screen

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While our culture may not privilege religion as it once did, Hollywood has not shied away from rolling out a number of big-budget biblical movies in recent years. Why? Because they make money! Darren Aronofsky’s Noah grossed more than $360 million; Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings made over $265 million; and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ? More than $600 million (making it the most profitable R-rated movie of all time!)

And while the profitability of these movies (and the influence that money has on their production) could be a topic unto itself, I bring this up simply to point out an interesting fact about our time: despite the lack of religiosity in our world, secular society continues to make mainstream movies about the Bible. The average person with no background in religion and who never attends church can still know the stories of the Bible by virtue of Hollywood’s interest in them.

Which presents an interesting question for us as Christians: is this a good thing? On the one hand, it’s great that people are taking an interest in the Bible and that our story is reaching people who would otherwise not hear it, but on the other hand, what version of the story are they actually hearing? When Ridley Scott is our evangelist, there’s no telling what people will walk away thinking about the Bible.

This week on the podcast, Tito and I discuss a few notable biblical movies we’ve seen, what we think of them, and how we can go about evaluating the effectiveness of movies in the future.

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