I preferred the book

There are a number of strange things about watching the Bible as a TV programme, which we can now do on Saturday nights until Christmas. Without spending too much time thinking about the fact it's being shown on a channel owned by a man who made his fortune from pornography, and the slightly-disturbing contrast between young children talking about what's in the Bible in the sponsorship slot and the bloody violence that follows, what's most strange is seeing stories and characters I've thought about represented in another person's vision. This is always an issue when books are made in films but it seems especially true here for me as a believer in the truth of the Bible.

This isn't a criticism of accuracy. The sparse details of biblical narratives allow us to engage our imaginations with what happened, to consider the gaps and the implications, as well as what's recorded. We can stop and think, dwell on a line or a scene for as long as necessary without having to rush on to the next part of the story before another advert break. A TV programme is unlikely to come close to this and from what I've seen The Bible certainly doesn't. The acting and production are in the classic style of made-for-TV true-life-stories, which is to say they're ok but certainly nothing more than that, and sometimes less. Dubbing British voices removes one layer of separation for viewers here but there's still a lot of cultural distance between British viewers and the original American audience.

It's this which is the great challenge for all Christians: how to tell God's story in a way that those listening will understand. People watching The Bible will see something of that, for which I'm grateful (Premier Christian Media have produced resources to help) and the project was clearly undertaken with care and respect. Maybe that should satisfy me but it doesn't because I don't think I'd recommend this to the kind of sceptical people who live in my city. They're more likely to see this as a fulfilment of the Ned Flanders stereotype. I'd love to see more Christian comedy, drama, documentary on TV, it could be better than this.