Stepping into 'The Red Tent'

The Lifetime adaptation of Anita Diamant’s novel about Dinah departs radically from the Bible - and that may be a good thing.
Stepping into 'The Red Tent'
Image: Lifetime
Minnie Driver, Rebecca Ferguson and Morena Baccarin in 'The Red Tent'

The Bible’s had a busy year in Hollywood—from Noah in February to Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings this December. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that this would be the year Lifetime chose to adapt The Red Tent, Anita Diamant’s 1997 novel about the Old Testament character of Dinah, into a TV miniseries.

When Hollywood ventures into sacred waters, Christians often aren’t excited about the result. Attempts to convey Biblical narratives many times result in strong reactions and critique: either the adaptations aren’t true to the source material, or the characters aren’t behaving like good Biblical characters should.

The Red Tent is no exception. Diamant, the book’s author, has faced accusations of blasphemy for her imaginative departure from the events of Genesis 34.

If you’re struggling to remember Dinah’s story, that’s likely because there’s not a lot there. It’s told in a single chapter. Dinah, the daughter of the patriarch Jacob and his first wife Leah, is violated by a city ruler, Shechem. His later request to marry her results in her brothers’ demands that the males of the entire city circumcise themselves. Driven by Shechem’s persuasions, the men agree to do so, and while they are physically recovering, Dinah’s brothers slaughter the city in revenge.

Although the episode is sometimes read as a rape, Diamant saw something else in the story. “[The prince] doesn’t act like a rapist. He submits to what was then a very humiliating request in order to marry Dinah,” she says. Diamant used that discrepancy as a departure, reimagining the event as a love story, in which Dinah and the prince fall in ...

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Stepping into 'The Red Tent'
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