Producer Mark Burnett has been responsible for some of the biggest hits of modern television, including Survivor, The Apprentice, and The Voice. His wife, Roma Downey, starred for ten years in the TV series Touched by an Angel. But they believe their five-week miniseries that sweeps through the entire story of the Bible (airing on the History Channel Sunday nights beginning Sunday, March 3) is the most significant work they have done to date. Robert C. Crosby, professor of practical theology at Southeastern University, spoke to Burnett and Downey about their hopes for the series.
There have been many attempts to bring the Bible to the screen. What makes this project distinctive?
Roma Downey: We felt it was very important to tell the story in a way that brought deep emotional connection with people. The characters in the Bible are us, in many ways. The challenges they face; their love, hopes, dreams—we can all relate to them. It is important to make the connection with the heart. It is through the heart that we embrace God. And we found this was the thread through the whole story, through the entire Bible: the cohesive tissue is the amazing love that God has for us, most evident in the birth and life of Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection.
We also have access to CGI that no one has had before—the special effects are the work of Lola, the UK company that did CGI for the film Gladiator. We go from Abraham to the story of Moses which is quite spectacular visually. A Bible epic has never been done this way before with these new technologies.
How did you decide which Bible stories to include or exclude?
Downey: Initially, we were going to try and tell many stories from the Bible and just a little ...