Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Jesus of Nazareth...

I never thought to find this on YouTube but this is the complete "Jesus of Nazareth" mini series. My mother bought me the DVD (when DVD's were quite new-fangled), which I now know to be an abridged version. I am torn on the subject of any man, however good an actor, impersonating Christ or the propriety of turning Scripture into theatre, but I found this series to be generally good, and with a superb cast (James Mason, Lawrence Olivier, Anne Bancroft, Peter Ustinov, and, of course, Robert Powell). One criticism I would venture to make is the inconsistent use of Scripture. The series doesn't seem to follow a single translation, or one that I know of, and fluctuates between archaisms like "who art in heaven" in the Sermon on the Mount and a more modern style in other parts; although that probably has more to do with intelligibility and reaching a wider audience than a director's oversight. The King James Bible is perfect for preaching and rote memorisation but transported into a television series and it could have an undesired effect; that is to say, people might say "people don't talk in that lofty way in everyday life." The trouble there is that for people like me, who learn much better by listening to a text or piece of music over and over and over, is that we might commit to our memories an unsuitable translation no older than the 1970's. There is no clearer catholicity than in uttering the Scripture in the same words and structure as our long fathers of old.

Another criticism would be the sort of Miltonian, anti-hero treatment of Judas Iscariot. The Gospel is quite clear that Satan entered into him (John 13:27), whereas in the series he seems disillusioned, idealistic and somewhat naive.

Anyway, if you haven't already seen it, please do. It's much better than that Mel Gibson film, which was sadistic tripe.


  1. Have you seen "The Gospel of John"? The script is simply the entire Gospel according to Saint John, dubbed in English over the actors' Aramaic dialogue. And the DVD home menu gives the option of choosing between King James and NIV versions. It is also available on Netflix. It is my personal favorite.