This is a comprehensive introduction to the ways in which the Bible has been used and represented in mainstream cinema. Adele Reinhartz considers the pervasive use of the Bible in feature films, and the medium of film as part of the Bible’s reception history. The book examines how films draw on the Old and New Testament and the figure of Jesus Christ in various direct and indirect ways to develop their plots, characters, and themes. As well as movies that set out explicitly to retell biblical stories in their ancient context, it explores the ways in which contemporary, fictional feature films make use of biblical narrative.
Topics covered include:
- how filmmakers make use of scripture to address and reflect their own time and place.
- the Bible as a vehicle through which films can address social and political issues, reflect human experiences and emotions, explore existential issues such as evil and death, and express themes such as destruction and redemption.
- the role of the Bible as a source of ethics and morality, and how this connection is both perpetuated and undermined in a range of contemporary Hollywood films.
- films that create an experience of transcendence, and the ways in which the Bible figures in that experience.
Reinhartz offers insightful analysis of numerous films including The Ten Commandments and The Shawshank Redemption, paying attention to visual and aural elements as well as plot, character, and dialogue. Students will find this an invaluable guide to a growing field.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: "Seeking a Vision": Bible Movies as Film Genre Part One: The Bible on Film 2. "As it has been written": The Old Testament Epics 3. "I Have Seen the Lord": Jesus on the Silver Screen 4. "Make disciples of all nations": Swords, Sandals, and Christianity 5. "What Would Jesus Do?" Epic and Allegory Part Two: The Bible in Film 6. "Make them known to your children": The Old Testament in Modern Guise 7. "One Like a Son of Man": Christ-Figure films 8. "Justice, Justice you shall pursue": Films and Morality 9. "In Those Days": Destruction and Redemption 10. Conclusion: "My Heart is Glad, and My Soul Rejoices": Cinema and Transcendence
Adele Reinhartz is a Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada. She has authored a number of books on the intersection of Bible and film, including Scripture on the Silver Screen (2003), Jesus of Hollywood (2007) and Bible and Cinema: Fifty Key Films (2012).
"Reinhartz is the leading interpreter of the use of the Bible in film. In this volume she provides readers with a helpful overview of the subject, raising a host of significant questions and unpacking a wide variety of relevant movies. It is a must-read book for anyone interested in the field." - Robert K. Johnston, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA and author of Reel Spirituality
"Reinhartz deftly shows how cinematic representations of the Bible always reflect the values of the times in which the films are made, as she examines how gender, race, class, and other ideological constructs influence the adaptation of the Bible onto the screen. Through a wide range of examples from biblical epics to modern comedies, her analysis suggests that these films tell us more about contemporary society than about biblical times, as we see how films have used the Bible to validate American exceptionalism, and to structure modern ideas about redemption, morality, apocalyptic, and transcendence." - John Lyden, Liberal Arts Core Director, Grand View University, USA