The Bible: Made for TV?

Burnett recalls another instance of the miraculous during the filming process.

“After we shot the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist,” he shares, “somehow a piece of Jesus’ costume got lost in this massive lake. It’s really critical because you’re shooting for five months—you’ve got to keep control of everything you’ve got. Things are very irreplaceable. A couple of days later, a local found that piece of costume and brought it all the way back to us. He had found it miles downstream. How would anyone even know it was ours? We thought we were never going to see that part of the costume again—ever—and it came back.”

Burnett says he is convinced it was the Holy Spirit acting in all of these instances and still others left untold. He felt it within his spirit, and the physical occurrences that happened almost daily left no doubt God’s hand was on the project.

“But it’s not surprising when you think about it,” Burnett adds. “What were we doing 24 hours a day with hundreds of people? We were working on the Word of God. And we had hundreds of more people praying every day.”

The Big Picture
With production wrapped, the prayer efforts have shifted to the ultimate, twofold purpose behind the miniseries: make a statement to Hollywood and reach the most people possible with the gospel message.

With that first goal in mind, Burnett, who knows a few things about generating massive television audiences, sees a huge opportunity for the Christian community to send a powerful statement by supporting this mass media endeavor.

“What really matters is that the most number of people watch on March 3 and stay with it every week,” he explains. “What that does is send a massive message to people who are involved in all forms of media. We want them to say, ‘Whoa! This is a tight community. It’s a big community. And they really care about this story!’”

To rally the proverbial troops, Burnett and Downey organized multiple events that gave influential Christian leaders a chance to preview clips from the series. Joel Osteen, senior pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, spent time on the set and “witnessed firsthand the genius of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey” and “the deep and abiding passion they possess for God’s Word.”

Bishop T.D. Jakes describes The Bible as being “unlike any other film or miniseries” he has ever encountered and says it “draws us to the divine Author.”

It’s that last statement that excites Burnett and Downey. The couple hopes the series leads non-believers into a first-time relationship with God and brings back to God those who have become disenfranchised with the church.

“I talk to Mart Green a lot about why Jesus told stories,” Burnett says. “Mart told me that he feels like that’s what I was supposed to do—tell stories—and allow the churches to untie the knots.”

“It’s the most exciting part of this film,” Downey adds. “I believe that the faithful will find the show. We also want to have people who were churched but have fallen away to return through this show. But I’m most excited about the possibility that this series can go out into the corners of the world and speak to people who we’ll never know their name, and their lives will be impacted and their hearts opened and their lives changed for eternity.”

Burnett and Downey are also intrigued to discover how their non-Christian friends will respond. That diverse group includes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and atheists, among others.

“Within our circle, we have a lot of respect for each other despite our differing opinions of religion, politics and social issues,” Burnett says. “But we live in a creative world, and our job was to make the most compelling and visual storytelling of the Bible. That’s how our community in Hollywood and our close friends will judge the project and connect to the stories. That was our job. I feel like we’ve done that.”

Despite Burnett's and Downey’s individual and collective name recognition, they unequivocally agree that The Bible miniseries is the most important project to which they will ever be attached.

“It’s way bigger than us,” Downey says. “We were just the people used to do it. We stepped up. We answered the call. We did it. We brought our talents and our strengths. We combined our love and our energy together, and we put together a great team of people, and then we had faith in the project. The Bible is a living book. We’ve been able to breathe fresh visual life into it and bring that to this generation.”

Chad Bonham is a journalist, author and broadcast producer who has worked in mass media for more than 20 years. He served as the contributing editor for New Man magazine for three years and recently released the book Life in the Fairway.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Watch a moving preview of The Bible miniseries at Bibleseries.charismamag.com


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