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The Bible miniseries has been one of cable television's top performers of the year, averaging more than 11 million viewers per episode. That success has sparked both enthusiasm and skepticism among Christian media watchers.

Jonathan Bock, whose Grace Hill Media promoted the miniseries, thinks that anything that tilts the cultural conversation towards Christianity is a plus.

"I think this is fantastic," he said. "For generations, [Christians] have critically stood by with our arms crossed…. Now we are at a moment where we can actually shape culture by making these Bible projects into big hits."

Phil Cooke, president of Cooke Pictures, calls it positive when a major network promotes a story grounded in faith: "Since the series aired, I have talked with numerous people who used to be afraid to discuss their faith with co-workers, but now are being asked all kinds of questions about Christianity," he said. "How great is that?"

Cooke said there is no question that Mel Gibson's take on Christ's crucifixion sparked the trend that has produced everything from Narnia to The Bible—and he expects it to accelerate.

His theory is borne out by DVD sales of the miniseries, which quickly seized iTunes's top spot for downloads. That reflected favorable campus feedback observed by former White House aide Michael Wear, who screened the series at colleges around the country.

"Young people responded that the series made them rethink and revisit Scripture," said Wear, senior vice president for Values Partnerships. "And that sparked new thoughts about its meaning,"

The series has produced three books, and one of them reached No. 20 on the New ...

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