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Playing God: Mark Burnett to Make Bible Miniseries for History

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Mark Burnett will try to put the spark of life into Bible stories for History.

The History channel, as we all know, puts a premium on the veracity and historical truth of its projects. That was the ostensible reason, for instance, that the channel rejected the miniseries The Kennedys, saying that the political story did not meet its standards of accuracy.

Now History has a new project: Survivor producer Mark Burnett will make a 10-hour miniseries adaption of The Bible. Yes, that Bible. The one with people rising from the dead and turning into salt and the story of the guy who built a boat to save the creatures of the Earth from a global flood.

The latter, at least, is one of the Bible stories that Burnett will dramatize in the scripted series. So it’s a relief to have the whole literal-truth-of-the-Bible thing sorted out!

Actually, the statements made by History channel executives skirt the issue of whether or not the events recounted in the Bible are history; the argument, apparently, is that the existence of the Bible’s stories is itself history. “We spend a lot of time talking about this book, and probably not enough time knowing what’s in it,” History president Nancy Dubuc told the Hollywood Reporter. “One of the most important things about history is knowing the stories of history.”

As for whether those stories are true, it looks like History will not be getting involved in that; Dubuc assured the New York Times that the miniseries would not try to impose historical context on matters like The Flood. Of course not! Why would a channel called History do a thing like that?

In any case, this helps clarify the channel’s mission. It’s not comfortable, say, with Joel Surnow’s version of the relationship between Joseph Kennedy and mobster Sam Giancana. But let the story stick around for a few centuries, and we can talk again.