Does Hollywood Get The Bible Right?

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This year is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for Bible-based films. Nearly a half dozen major films are scheduled for release in 2014, and Sunday (Feb. 23) a University of Hartford professor will be hosting a discussion on the movie industry’s fascination with biblical stories and how Hollywood’s portrayal of life during these times corresponds with fact.

Dr. Richard Freund is a professor of Jewish history and director of Judaic studies at the University of Hartford. He has appeared in 17 biblical archaeology documentaries for National Geographic, PBS and Discovery, to name a few, and consulted on a dozen more.

“I spent my career studying who Jesus was, the people he hung with, where he lived, what he ate, what he did,” Dr. Freund said. “When I watch, it’s with an eye if they got it.”

He’ll share his expertise with the public Sunday night on campus at Dana Hall, hosting a discussion on “The Real Noah and Jesus in Film and Archaeology.”

“I’m going to tell people the good, the bad and the ugly of the past 115 years of Jesus in films,” Dr. Freund said.

In 2014, Hollywood studios will release at least five major films that are based on stories from the Bible, beginning with “The Son of God” on Feb. 28; then “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe; “Mary, Mother of the Christ” (which has been called the prequel to “The Passion of the Christ”); and a new version of “Exodus” starring Christian Bale.

Dr. Freund says film is a powerful teaching tool, but must be met by a discerning audience. He wants to show people how to watch biblical movies and to compare what filmmakers have done with the same material of the Bible.

“The producer, the director, they can shape the Bible more than any minister or professor could in a hour and a half,” he said.

The discussion begins at 7 p.m. in Dana Hall on the University of Hartford campus and is open free to the public. For a reservation you can call 860-768-5018. For more information, click here to visit “The Real Noah and Jesus in Film and Archaeology” Facebook page.

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