Christians like, hate BBC TV series, The Nativity
Some Christians feel the BBC TV series, The Nativity, is not faithful enough to the bible, while others believe that by lending a human perspective to the story, the birth of Christ becomes a more genuinely felt experience for both the churched and unchurched.
The Nativity, written by Tony Jordan, is a four-part series that is being aired on BBC during Christmas week. The Daily Express said some Christians are outraged at scenes where a 15-year-old pregnant Mary is being accused by Joseph of “whoring” or rape, and another where people attack her because they don’t believe she was made pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
Stephen Green of Christian Voice said the gospels only say Joseph was suspicious, but mentions no violence or verbal abuse. He also said children who do nativity plays at school may be confused, The Daily Express said.
Green told The Daily Express, “They wouldn’t mock the birth of Muhammad, or anything to do with his life story. They wouldn’t ridicule Hinduism or Sikhism, but Christianity is their big target.”
Churched and unchurched
Jordan however said that he wanted a film that both the churched and unchurched would appreciate. He told The Telegraph, “I want people who have no particular faith, who don’t watch the God Channels, to watch this nativity. And if they have faith, to reinforce it. And if they haven’t, to make them think, ‘Wow, I don’t know, maybe…’”
Noting that unbelievers tend to laugh at the idea of Jesus being born to a virgin, Jordan made that the centerpiece of the story. “The story has been hidden because people couldn’t get past that first bit,” He told The Telegraph.
The Nativity focuses on the tension and romance between Mary and Joseph. Jordan told The Daily Express, “I think it perfectly believable that Joseph should get angry with his betrothed and only agree to take her with him to Bethlehem when she risks being stoned by angry neighbors.”
The journey to Nazareth takes on a new twist. Jordan told The Telegraph, “In my version they hate each other for the whole journey, but come together at the end through Joseph discovering faith.”
Some might say it is “wholesale revisionism,” but Jordan kept true to the essence of the gospel and researched so carefully as to call NASA scientists to get a detailed understanding of the Star of Bethlehem, The Telegraph said.
The writer’s favorite character is a shepherd burdened with debt and an ailing wife. People tell him God will take care of him, but Jordan tells The Telegraph, “When you’re unemployed and your wife is dying, that’s…hard to take.” At the end of the story however the shepherd kisses the feet of Baby Jesus.
Actress Tatiana Maslany, who plays Mary, said the story is about enduring love “even in the most difficult circumstances.” Andrew Buchan, who plays Joseph compares his character to any man today “who goes away and comes back to find his wife or girlfriend pregnant. Of course he’s going to … challenge her,” The Daily Express reported.
The Church of England says the series is “a gritty interpretation of the events of the first Christmas. We hope it will bring home the story of Jesus being born in a humble stable to many new viewers,” according to The Daily Express.
Independent Catholic News notes that Jesus is described throughout the series as a “bridge between heaven and earth,” and cites the irony of the couple’s journey through a barren desert of extreme temperatures looking for a place where Mary can safely give birth to Jesus.
The Church Media Network clarifies that the series is a drama that is sourced from the gospels but is not an exercise in evangelism. However, the series can be used as a tool to open up dialogue about Jesus and what his birth means to the world, according to their website.