Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible

As a child of the 80's I grew up watching some of the greatest cartoons of all time (Ninja Turtles, Dragon Ball Z, Voltron, and Thundercats just to name a few). Growing up in a Christian home, violence driven cartoons were frowned upon so I also watched "safe" shows like The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible. If you're unfamiliar with this quaint little Hanna-Barbara gem just imagine Superbook but less anime like Captain Planet, throw in two American college archeologists and their scampy little "nomad" friend, an Egyptian time-traveling door (not to confuse this door with a Stargate, there is a difference) which apparently only traveled to Biblical events and you get The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible. And since it's Bunny season I thought it would be fitting to post the Easter episode. Enjoy.

Part 2 and 3 can be found here. What I found exceptionally curious about this show, watching it again as an adult, is that there are several oddities, I never would have caught as a child, which helped to shape my perception of the Bible until adulthood. For Example, did you notice...
  • The crowd, including Jesus, was mostly fair skinned.
  • Jesus has Blue eyes.
  • "The men of power" looked borderline supervillian evil (it's all in the eyebrows!).
  • Judas is rockin' a devilish goatee
  • The trial scene looked kind of thin, where was everyone else?
  • The voice of Caiaphas is done by Tony Jay who does a lot of villainous roles.
  • There is very little violence for such a barbaric execution (children don't really think of the violence of the crucifixion, or at least I never did).
  • The time-traveling trio defend Peter's denial of Jesus but make no attempt to defend Pilate or even Judas even though Mark, the narrator, states that nothing could have stopped the crucifixion since it was the Son of God's mission to die.
  • I wonder if Moki was the cause for the lost ending of the Gospel of Mark when he trips over Mark's scrolls? Whoops!
  • Mark, the narrator, mentions that Easter happened 35 years prior placing his writing right before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 c.e.
Of course this is a children show so I may be making a big whoopla out of nothing but the imagery portrayed in this cartoon is very common in Sunday School class. Growing up with the Scandinavian Jesus may not be completely damaging to kids who eventually learn that 1st century Jews may have looked more like this. In my opinion, the real damage is in the fear of asking "heretical" questions ("Learn and Burn!") while ignoring Christianity's room full of elephants (don't forget about the pink one in the closet). Most everyday Christians don't dig deeper into the text looking to ask tough questions because they themselves are yearning for solid answers. Why burden yourself with more questions when it's so much easier to get your answers from your local pastor or priest. I believe no solid or worthwhile answers can be given by the church or God, we're only given the chance to discover those answers for ourselves. Yet while mainstream Christians may bend over backwards to harmonize the gospels into one historical account to protect their theology (and probably their state of mind), others are questioning the traditional views and beliefs they inherited from their parents and grandparents. The greatest adventure stories from the Bible are not the stories where the heroes blindly obeyed God, but where the characters questioned divine justice, embraced compassion, and walked humbly and intimately with the Divine.


Don said...

Very interesting and cool. Now I would have to find old 16mm film to see the ones I viewed at

"Yet while mainstream Christians may bend over backwards to harmonize the gospels into one historical account to protect their theology (and probably their state of mind)..."

More like bend themselves into pretzels to harmonize the Thanks for reminding me of the Scandanavian Jesus picture. We had one in our Sunday School classroom.

Anonymous said...

I watched that with my kids one time, I think we must have borrowed it from someone. I felt the ethnic sidekick was insulting to anyone not a WASP and didn't persue it any further. Nice points you make above about those who are questioning the traditional views. It is hard to believe that pretzel logic (of traditional apologists) would be preferable to someone of faith that honest questioning and inquiry, regardless of the effect it can have on "traditional" beliefs.

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