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Wil Gafney: History Channel’s Satan and President Obama

Posted in: Archaeology and Bible, ASOR, Bible and Media, Cultural Heritage and Property
Tags: biblical archaeology, biblical literature, cultural heritage and patrimony
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By: Wil Gafney, Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

This entry is reblogged from Dr. Wil Gafney’s blog. You can find the original entry here and Dr. Gafney’s other posts on The Bible series here.


Many viewers of the History Channel’s Bible mini-series saw and see a resemblance between the character of Satan and President Barack Obama. Comparison photos such as the one above are circulating on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The History Channel denies any resemblance and any attempt to pattern the character after the President.

Whether one sees a resemblance or not, the History Channel has produced a biblical epic with virtually no actors from contemporary corollaries of biblical lands, so the North African (Moroccan) actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouzaani is highly visible as Satan in a production where the Israelites are portrayed by white actors. I have previously addressed the use of race in the series here and here and here. The History Channel is responsible for what it broadcasts just as the producers, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, and their casting agents are responsible for the product they produce. (more…)

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4 Comments for : Wil Gafney: History Channel’s Satan and President Obama
    • Enopoletus Harding
    • March 26, 2013
    Reply

    I like Tom Verenna's perspective on this; http://tomverenna.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/histor…
    In short, what History Channel is doing with the Bible today is no worse than what Medieval European Christians were doing with the Bible yesterday and what the Bible's authors were doing to history.

    • Matt
    • March 26, 2013
    Reply

    What a load of rubbish. This actor has played the part of Satan before, and the producers liked his work…but I guess acknowledging this would preempt someone from going off on a racial/ideological tirade.

    • Ugh
    • March 28, 2013
    Reply

    Ugh, Matt, just shut up. Have you considered that the fact that this man has played Satan before is indicative of filmmakers' repeated need to cast an African man as Satan? Are you not even going to consider his role as a brown Satan in a sea of divine lily white protagonists? People like you seriously slay me.

    • May
    • April 2, 2013
    Reply

    I agree with the viewpoint expressed in this blog. This view — that Biblical characters were white and looked like northern Europeans — is pervasive in much of white America. That portrayal may not be intentionally discriminatory but it reveals an underlying contempt for history and for real people of the world who are not all white.

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