Driving towards the Swansea Road roundabout I glimpsed a placard ‘Ben -Hur’ in cinemas soon’. The impression I had was that the 1959 blockbuster with Charlton Heston in the lead role was being re- released and seeing it again on the big screen re mastered with all the enhancements of digital sound would have got me back to the Odeon in no time. What a disappointment when I found out it was, in fact, a remake of the timeless story of the Jewish Prince Judah Ben Hur written by Lew Wallace in 1880. This latest version (the sixth since the days of the silent screen) opened last weekend in America where box office receipts apparently were an all-time low. It may be as one critic said ‘the remake nobody wanted’ Come September we can make the comparison ourselves.
It’s always a risk with any film remake is that it might not work. Two year’s ago Ridley Scot’s ‘Exodus’ re-told the story of Moses which according to the critics came nowhere near Cecil B Mille’s the ‘Ten Commandments’ which even in 1956 had some amazing special effects. My lasting memory of the ‘Ten Commandments’ was the whole school walking across People’s park to the then Odeon to see this Biblical epic with a packed cinema enthralled by the epic proportions in which this classic Biblical story was told.
The Bible, however, is not there to entertain. Its central theme is of redemption and reconciliation inviting us to know the love and acceptance God freely gives through his word. Somewhere we may have a Bible which has been handed down through the family; or a Gideon Bible given to us at school. Perhaps the time has come for us to read again of the love and peace that God offers through Jesus and to celebrate like the prodigal son the amazing love and forgiveness of God. The great Bible teacher Karl Barth was asked by one of his students if he could summarise his whole life’s work in theology and Biblical study in a sentence. “Yes, I can’ he replied ‘In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” So simple and yet so true, proclaimed for over two thousand years with no remakes at a church near you this and every Sunday!
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