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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Fake News, Junk Science, Real Artifacts

Rameses: Wrath of God or Man? (TV Movie 2004) on IMDb

Plot Overview

crucified ChristRabbi Mark Winer declaims the centrality of the Exodus in Judaism, as is the cross central to Christianity. We see some­one painting the lintel and side posts of a door with lamb's blood (Ex. 12:22-23) so “the destroyer” will pass over that Hebrew house when smiting all the first­born in Egypt. In Christian thought that paint out­lines the cross on which Jesus the lamb of God died.

In this enactment God smites the firstborn silently at night with a vapor—think carbon monoxide. An alternate theory is developed based on a bashed-in skull recovered from a tomb (KV5) of Pharaoh's supposed first­born. He was killed violently, perhaps in battle. There is no explanation given why the angel of death couldn't have bashed in the skull out­right. The depression in the skull looks like it matches the end of a staff like the one Moses wielded so often to perform miracles, and the reenacted blood seepage is like the door lintel/posts blood. The animation depicting an alternative of a midnight assassin could just as well have been of an angel of death. My guess is that since this movie was made for tele­vision, they just assumed the viewers were stupid.

The reconstructed skull along with two (they examined) of its three brothers buried along­side it does match the morphology of the skull of the mummy of Rameses “the Great” II, two of them more than the third, the bashed in one. The differences in that one could well be attributed to a radically different mother. The Queen Mother had a duty to provide a first­born heir, but others of Rameses's harem of a hundred wives could have produced the brothers. Rameses's first wife he got from a military campaign at the beginning of his reign (at age 20.) She had unique genetics as described by historian Werner Keller: (98–9)

The battle did not, as it happened, bring Ramesses II the victory he had hoped for (he came, in fact, with­in an ace of being captured him­self), but it put an end to these end­less military incidents. In 1280 b.c. the Hittites and the Egyptians concluded the first non­aggres­sion and mutual defense pact in world history. The good under­standing was cemented at top level by the marriage of Ramesses II to a Hittite princess. … “Then they brought the daughter of the Great Prince of Hatti … before His Majesty. And His Majesty saw that she was fair of coun­ten­ance like a god­dess. … And he loved her more than anything else. …”


Which translation is God's word?

Investigative reporter Charlie Sennet scours the land to get the skinny on this Moses chap. He stops at St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai to look at the (once burning) bush through which God the great ‘I am’ spoke to Moses. This is not an FX bush or a bush similar to the one in the Bible, but the actual bush. Orthodox Christians built a monastery on the sacred site in the fifth century and have been tending the shrub ever since. Father Justin explains to the camera that “a bush is not a tree.” Bushes keep growing indefinitely from their existing root stock, you see.

It's a fine looking bush, one that would look great in your den or church lobby if you could persuade the monks to part with it. You already might have some­thing ancient of theirs, translations derived in part from “the famous uncial the Sinaitic Manuscript … Found by Constantin Tischendorf, … being made a gift to the [Russian] Czar amidst controversy” (Lightfoot 205). Tischendorf, discovering the ms. while a guest at St. Catherine's, and having permission to borrow it, treason­ably forged the Abbot's signature on a fake agreement to exchange it for filthy lucre and unwanted honors. Orthodox priests I've talked to are well aware of this travesty. To ignore this theft in using virtually all Bible trans­lations since the modern RSV—perhaps excepting the NKJV—is to commit misprision of treason. God tells us how he feels about substituting for the KJV—it was based on the textus receptus not on later discoveries—in, (Psalm 50:16-18) “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers.”

The “partaking with adulterers” has to do with reformulating the thought of Paul to make it more conducive to sexual sin. The scriptural escape from fornication is marriage, (1Cor. 7:2) “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” Standard wisdom comes down to, (Eccl. 7:16) “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” If one is too selective in selecting a partner, he prices him­self or her­self right out of the marriage market. It's wise for a Christian to choose another Christian for a spouse, but if there aren't any compatible ones available, well, the (sanctified) unbeliever is his only option.

In 1st Corinthians, Paul tells us (1Cor. 5:9-10) that we may associate with character-flawed nonChristians; that a Christian may maintain a marriage to a nonchristian (1Cor. 7:12-17) so long as the unbeliever is willing; that we can compromise with the heathen in the work­place—Criswell Study Bible preface to First Corinthians: “Some Christians needed to know whether or not they should attend the meetings of their trade guild, meetings held in the idol temples and involving meat offered to the idols (1Cor. 8:1-13)”—as long as we're doing it in faith and not stumbling some­one; that we can compromise in the market­place (1Cor. 10:25-26) and in entertainment (1Cor. 10:27-28) for the same reason, and as long as we don't ask too many questions.

In 2nd Corinthians Paul does ask the Corinthians the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines, “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have ready examples at hand due to their allowed associations. It's these mismatches that impress on their minds the incom­pati­bility of mixed composition, so that, say, we should not establish a ‘Voodoo Church of Christ.’ The two are not going to mix well. Paul thus tells Christians: (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” Note the plural pronoun ye. Webster defines, “ye pron you 1 — used orig. only as a plural pronoun of the second person in the subjective case and now used esp. in ecclesiastical or literary language and in various English dialects.” We are forbidden to integrate heathen practices into our church in the aggregate, though as individual believers we are allowed to rub shoulders with unbelievers in various places so long as we remain aloof from their idolatry or whatever.

The more modern (English) translations have used the pronoun you (or you under­stood) that can be either singular or plural. This opens it up to misinter­pretation as a proof text for a Christian (singular) not to be unequally yoked with a non-Christian spouse. It puts a command under Paul's pen that he did not insist on, though he has insisted on refraining from fornication, which may not be doable with unreasonable restrictions on selecting a spouse. Here in the movie a king has many wives. If Paul had been addressing group marriage, his plural pronoun would have been applicable, but he was sticking with monogamy, though it's hard to tell some­times from modern translations.

Production Values

” (2004) was directed by Mark Aldridge and Tom Pollock. It was written by Shaun Trevisick with additional scripting by Gary Parker. It was nar­rated by Morgan Free­man. Free­man's narration was clear and comfortingly familiar, if a bit repetitive as the film wound on. It was produced for the Discovery Channel.

The graphics were amazing. Place names were tacked onto a topo­graphical map zoomed in on from outer space. The “fire” in the burning bush felt hot. Short biblical quotations were given from the King James Version accompanied by chapter and verse in a small inset on screen. One verse from the Koran was cited. The scenes described were accompanied by what looked like excerpts from an epic film. There was forensic animation depicting the murder of the king's son, but the (angelic?) killer didn't have wings. The music was back­ground and non-obtrusive. The tension built up nicely towards the end spoiled only by rudimentary knowledge of any­one who's done any reading.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I recommend seeing “Rameses” in groups including at least one person who knows a little about Bible history to set the record straight for the rest—it won't take a genius. They can include Christians, Muslims, and Jews who all share the traditions of Moses. Other­wise, it would be a good movie to fall asleep to at night. You can start again at any random spot and not tell the difference from where you left off. If the scholar­ship were better, I'd have given it a higher rating.

Please don't attempt to purchase sprigs from the bush at St. Catherine's. If they think the audience is vain, they might not consent to being filmed in the future. (Don't ask me how I know.)

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated per se. Special effects: Amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Predictable for all but the biblically illiterate. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, Print.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Keller, Werner. The Bible as History. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1956. Print.

Lightfoot, Neil R.. How We Got the Bible. New York: MJF Books, 2003. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.