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I’ve been thinking about the complexity of modern communications and entertainment and the very long distance between the Ancient Near Eastern world of the Bible and life in a mass media culture. That led me to wonder what would happen if a bunch of biblical figures found themselves suddenly transported to the modern world—Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure-style—and forced to cope with modern media.
With a little imagination, I’ve decided, they could thrive.
Obviously, Solomon would launch an excellent Twitter feed. And no doubt Esther would get involved with beauty pageant broadcasts. From there, things could get pretty interesting…
Forty Days and Nights
A NatGeo Channel show featuring Noah, who introduces viewers to various exotic animals. Aimed at a family audience. Advertisers include several survival gear companies and boat manufacturers.
On Your Own
Martha’s cooking competition show pits contestants against one another in a timed frenzy to determine who can create the best meal for a large group with absolutely no help from anyone. Broadcasts opposite sister Mary’s talk show, The Better Part, in which guests sit on tasteful sofas and chat about spiritual things.
Whither Thou Goest
A daytime soap opera featuring Ruth and Naomi, playing themselves. Season 1 tantalizes viewers with the ambiguities of Naomi’s character and features the dramatic deaths of all the male characters, including that worthless Mahlon and good-for-nothing Kilion. In Season 2, Ruth meets Boaz and, in a big reveal in the season finale, we discover they’re actually related. It takes at least two more seasons to get them together.
Cover Your Mouth
Job hosts this reality show in which contestants are gradually stripped of all they ever had and viewers watch to see who can hold out the longest before using bad language.
Who’s the Greatest?
A mock-documentary comedy in the style of The Office and Parks and Rec. In each episode, the disciples follow Jesus around, trying to make sense of some new mysterious thing he says. Comic bumbling and misunderstandings ensue. The “confessional interview” filming style takes on a new layer of meaning.
What else are these guys going to do but join the World Wrestling Federation? Samson, Gideon, Joshua, and others (David’s “mighty men”?) stage theatrical fights using props like the jawbone of an ass, clay jars, or trumpets. Female characters assist and interfere. Crowd favorite: Jael with a tent stake.
Runs in the next time slot. Jonah hosts this Amazing Race-type show in which prophets get a word from the Lord and then have to deliver it using various props: plumb line, ax, crooked stick, coals, perhaps a sex worker. Loser has to eat a scroll. Audience can vote to have a disliked contestant swallowed symbolically by a whale.
Hear O Israel
David, transported to the modern world, would probably launch a political career. But compelled into entertainment, he executive produces—and serves as one of the three judges—on a talent show searching for the next great worship singer. Other judges: Jubal and Miriam. Winning contestants need to be careful that David doesn’t take credit for their work.
Better Call Paul
I think the Apostle Paul would avoid television, and instead thrive as a radio talk-show host. Listeners call in and ask Paul directly about their church problems, and he gives definitive answers. He’s not exactly a shock jock, but he does get a little salty when provoked by caller stupidity. Occasionally he travels around and broadcasts from various cities; sometimes guest hosts (anonymous ones?) fill in for him. (Original proposed title: Hell No! But conservative advertisers threatened to pull their support.)
The Savvy Shekel
Another radio call-in show. The Proverbs 31 woman offers financial advice and encourages women to “lean in.” Occasional guest host: Zacchaeus.