5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Published 8 months ago by

Bible Stories Would Make Epic Movies 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Stories of The Bible and its most legendary heroes may seem more at home in a Sunday School class than a movie theater box office these days, but if Darren Aronofsky’s Noah proves one thing, it’s that a Judeo-Christian hero can not only offer a truly gripping cinematic experience (read our review), but top the box office in sales as well.

Hollywood is never one to overlook a potential cash-cow, and as ‘controversial’ as Biblical adaptations (adaptation being the key word) always tend to be, we’re in favor of telling strong stories on film regardless of where the source material may arise. So with Aronofsky proving that a strong director can turn a Bible tale into big screen success, we’ve nominated a few more that seem tailor-made for film adaptation, and if done right, could offer some truly gripping drama, as well as spectacle.

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1. Gideon

Bible Stories Epic Movies Gideon 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

With a name like Gideon (meaning ‘Destroyer,’ or ‘Mighty Warrior’) one might expect Gideon to fit into the traditional role of Biblical warrior alongside Samson, but the truth is a far more interesting story. You see, Gideon was, like many others back in the millenia B.C., not in a particular hurry to lead the entire Israelite people into battle. And in this case, that task required he not only turn his own people away from the false idols they had (once again) begun to worship instead of God, but take the battle to the foreign people they had allowed to settle in Canaan in the meantime.

To make sure that he had really been charged to rescue his people from oppression, Gideon asked God to send a message not once, but twice (really, we weren’t kidding about him being apprehensive). Once it was received, a quick destruction of the local monument to the deity Baal later, and Gideon set about assembling his forces. And this is where the story takes an intriguing turn. Given the trend of the Israelites being outnumbered, yet overcoming those odds proving their favor with the one true God, Gideon had a problem: the assembled army was too big.

The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained. -  Judges 7:2-3

Gideon Bible Story Movies 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Setting about assembling an army smaller than he currently claim (to the puzzlement of his commanders, we assume), Gideon once again reduced the army’s size until he held only 300 soldiers. But he devised a strategy that would send an army panicking even today: his 300 men would encircle the enemy camp at night, each carrying a trumpet and torch concealed inside a clay jar. At Gideon’s signal, every man shattered the jar, sounded a trumpet, and cried out: “a sword for the Lord, and for Gideon!”

The enemy was so shocked, they turned their own swords against one another, and fled, being pursued and ultimately defeated by Gideon’s army. In the end, the Israelite leader would refuse to become the people’s king, but once again set in motion the events which would doom them to worship false idols. With long odds, memorable action, and even a hollow ending, the story of Gideon would make for one refreshing film.

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2. The Maccabees

Bible Stories Epic Movies Maccabees 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

We’ll admit that a film based on ‘the true meaning of Hanukkah’ may not sound necessarily ‘epic,’ but those who know the The Maccabees don’t need to be told why it’s the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters. Around 200 BC, Greek influence under the pressure of Alexander the Great had begun to take hold, and combined with lingering political impacts from Egypt and Syria, the Jewish people living in Judea were… conflicted, to say the least. But when the upper-class began adopting Greek culture and worshiping their gods, a priest named Mattathias could take it no longer.

Killing one such convert and fleeing to the wilderness, Mattathias set in motion a full-scale revolt that would take years to begin. Much of the credit falls to his son, Judas Maccabee (“Hammer”) who made a nightmare for the ruling Seleucid dynasty by adopting guerilla tactics thousands of years before they would be given their accepted name. Proving to be both effective and terrifying, the Maccabean Revolt soon emerged victorious, capturing the Temple of Jerusalem and ridding it of pagan idols.

The Maccabees re-dedicated the Temple (by violently removing those inside) but could find just a single jar of oil to keep the Menorah lit – enough for a single day. As the final salute to the Maccabees’ victory, the fire inexplicably burned for a full eight days; an event commemorated each year on Hanukkah.

Maccabees Movie 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Regaining religious freedom, or freedom in general, is a theme that is explored on a grand theatrical scale almost every year. So we can’t think of a reason why a guerrilla war fought in the 2nd Century BC, and which had a massive impact on the shape of the western world isn’t a prime candidate for the next installment.

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3. Joshua

Bible Stories Epic Movies Joshua 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Hollywood has already done its part to immortalize the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, led by the Red Sea-parting Moses into the Promised Land of Canaan. But when Moses and his people arrived in the land of milk and honey, there was still one issue to deal with: people were already inhabiting it. That meant that sooner or later, those people were going to have to be removed by force, and for that, Moses turned to a man named Joshua.

Having proven his potency as a military leader prior to the Israelites’ arrival at Canaan, Joshua succeeded Moses as leader in the war-torn time to come. Boasting an army that was outnumbered and overpowered on an open battlefield, Joshua was forced to rely on tactics and topography to rid Canaan of its inhabitants – once and for all. The most iconic battle fought in Joshua’s campaign also happens to possess the most overlooked details, taking place outside the small settlement of Jericho.

While the city of Jericho isn’t necessarily impressive in size, its infamous walls posed a challenge to Joshua’s forces. A group of spies infiltrate the city and narrowly escape capture with the help of Rahab, a prostitute. In the end, Joshua is given his divine plan: walk his troops around the city for seven days, and watch the walls come tumbling down with a blow of their horns.

Joshua Bible Battles 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Whether those words are taken literally or figuratively in a big screen adaptation, it’s what Joshua does to the city’s inhabitants once inside that bears repeating:

They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword… They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. – Joshua 6:21-24

The extermination continued with the city of Bethel, and the psychological damage of Joshua’s ruthless tactics preceded him everywhere, meaning armies soon began joining his forces instead of opposing them. But Joshua’s greatest victory would come in a battle fought outside of the city of Gibeon, on a day when the sun itself stopped over the battlefield to give the Israelites the edge. However one chooses to explain that phenomenon, seeing the ensuing battle – or any others in Joshua’s story – is ripe for a Hollywood adaptation.

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4. The Binding of Isaac

Bible Stories Epic Movies Isaac Abraham 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

The march of Abraham – the first of God’s Chosen People – up Mount Moriah with his son Isaac in tow is likely one of the most misunderstood, or somewhat confusing Old Testament stories around. For those who aren’t familiar, the story kicks off when God informs Abraham that to prove his faith, he is to sacrifice his son, Isaac upon an altar (as animals regularly were at the time). While Abraham is distraught, he and Isaac set off up the mountain to complete the task.

It is only as Abraham is set to bring the blade down upon his bound son that an Angel stops him, tells him he has proven his faith, and he sacrifices a nearby lamb instead. The meaning of the story is usually pointed to as both Abraham’s conviction, and the Judeo-Christian God rewarding unquestioned faith. But we have to ask: what was the actual march up the mountain like for Abraham? For Isaac? Did Abraham ever have doubts? Did Isaac know what his father planned to do?

We can only assume that Isaac noticed the pair didn’t bring a lamb or livestock along with their improvised altar, but whether Isaac’s faith was as unfaltering as his father’s is left unclear. In the hands of the right screenwriter and director, it’s possible to think of a film adaptation that could cover just about every aspect of the human condition. Love, hate, fear, devotion, doubt, hope, despair – the story could cover it all – and with a happy ending, no less (for everyone but the lamb)!

Binding of Isaac Movie 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

In terms of ‘epic’ action and big screen spectacle, a film based on the binding of Isaac would be a polar opposite to a movie like Noah. But recent years have shown that audiences are more than ready to accept smaller, focused narratives; and there’s something to be said for a film that proves you don’t need action to tell a heart-wrenching story that tackles the very core of the notion of faith.

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5. King David

David and Goliath Bible Story Movie 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Two hundred years after Moses led his people to the Promised Land (and Joshua helped bring it withing their grasp) a young boy named David came forward to enter his own name into Biblical history. While the young shepherd may be most well-known for striking down the giant Goliath – and gave every future battle between differing opponents a new nickname – it’s what happened to the man after his first victory that we’re most interested in.

No victory comes without a price, and for Saul, the ruler of the Israelite forces, making David one of his top soldiers afforded the young man immediate fame, power and influence. Following David’s rise from soldier to leader following Saul’s death would make for a dramatic enough story on its own. But the controversial and brutal acts that followed David’s rise to power are too good to resist.

With the help of his ‘Mighty Men’ – a hand-picked group of fighters – the Biblical hero set out to remove (read: kill) Saul’ successors as rivals, and while The Bible views his actions as good in the long run, seeing the brutality of it up close, and just what it took to remain in the budding Israel, would flesh out a character who is far more interesting than many give him credit for.

Bible Stories Epic Movies King David 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Take, for instance, David’s defeat of the Moabites:

David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money. – 2 Samuel 8:2

David’s victory in wiping out entire peoples is impressive enough, but even the small scale drama is worth attention. Take for instance Bathsheba; the young woman spied bathing by the King, who he decided to romance (and dealt with her husband as any ruthless king does). The fact that Bathsheba was also the daughter of one of David’s elite guard, and granddaughter to one of his closest advisors gives a sense of just how tangled a web David tended to weave.

Historians and theologians can debate whether King David’s actions were justified or out of control, but the undisputable fact is that he was a far more interesting and complex figure than most realize. If Noah is deserving of extra attention, then David more than warrants a closer look.

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Conclusion

Noah header image 5 Bible Stories That Would Make Epic Movies

Those are just a handful of the epic tales contained within The Bible packed with the drama, action, and moral message that movie audiences tend to crave. Sure, the likes of Samson and Moses have been chronicled already, but these character journeys are every bit as compelling. And if the story of a man who built a boat to protect the innocent from flood waters can be turned into a battle between light and dark, surely the right director could turn one of our choices into a masterpiece.

Which Bible stories would you like to see turned into an epic feature film? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. I’d love to see a movie about Gideon. It’s an interesting and very different type of war story.

    • For me, I’d love to see a big screen adaptation of Saul/Paul…the story of a man who once persecuted and killed Christians, but who later became one of the world’s greatest saints.

  2. Depending on how King David is portrayed, I could see a movie based on his life working. The trouble is the portrayal and message of the film, or films based on David’s life. I think an HBO series, similar to the Borgia’s, from Joshua to King David would be interesting. Moses is well established on film. King David’s rise and reign could be a show unto itself.

  3. Samson. I would love to see a Biblically accurate Samson movie.

  4. The Joshua/Caleb journey, along with the Jericho wall would be awesome. The power of music! As for the Isaac one, history showed that he’s already a full grown man / young adult when he was about to be ‘sacrificed’, and that means the story proves his conviction as well.

    Some more interesting stories that could work: Job and his struggle to keep his faith eventhough he lost everything (could make a fascinating and Oscar worthy drama), Esther and her role as a queen to save her people (cause let’s face it, we need more strong women in the big screen), and Daniel and his friends who kept their faith in the barbaric ruling.

  5. Great list! IDK why these movies don’t already exist. You don’t have to be a pagan to appreciate Homer, and you don’t have to be Jewish or Christian to appreciate the Old Testament!

    (As a side note, Genesis does say Isaac noticed the lack of animal to sacrifice – Abraham just told him that God would provide one).

  6. King David’s story is so rich that they could make a franchise out of it.

    The article mentioned how rich his life is, and let’s not forget his troubling relationships with his sons, and how they plotted for the throne, the battles, terrible things they did, the Absalom’s death would be a classic, and rise of young Salomon.

    They could even do spin offs =P

  7. I agree, David would make an excellent film, maybe even a trilogy, (there is so much story for just one movie). First movie beginning with David as a boy and ending with Saul decides to start hunting him down, second film ending when David becomes king, and last film ending with his death. An intriguing series of stories in New Testament would be Paul’s missions, (again this could be more than one movie), from Paul being a hit man to completely turning around and becoming a best seller the very hard way. Of course you could do more stories of Jesus, but so many have already been made, (including a word for word film: Gospel of John with Henry Ian Cusick).

    • I agree about a David trilogy. I’d love to see a trio of films looking at Saul/David, David, and David/Solomon. The dramatic and thematic content is just asking to be filmed, and it could be an incredible saga, or as others have mentioned of course, a great cable series.

      Joshua is the other one that sounds like money. It has all of the ingredients of great cinematic spectacle.

      Also, some of the more prophetic books (Daniel, Ezekiel) could make for some truly mind-bending films, especially with someone like Aronofsky directing.

  8. I would like to just see a story of the book of acts.

  9. The story of Eden has already been told… Very convincing I must say. :-)

    • Embedding videos in a comments section is annoying. No one cares about your video…stop.

      • @Mewalke1 ok, since you asked so nicely I’ll post another :-)

  10. how about some of the more fantastical ones with creatures and monsters and angels and stuff.

    • “creatures and monsters and angels and stuff.”

      umm, which ones do you mean? In what context?

    • I was thought I’d seen that a grand version of Paradise Lost was being or going to be filmed. Although it’s not a “direct” Biblical story (perhaps it is as direct as Noah), I’ve been wanting to see this for a long time.

      • Wow. I should reread before posting.

      • Being a big fan of John Milton’s Paradise Lost I was really excited when I saw that a movie for this was being planned with today’s advanced technology for special effects. Unfortunately the budget was going to be so huge to fufill all the requirements of doing this film that it was cancelled. That was really disappointing. As a long-time fan of Epic Literature, of which I have read a prodigious amount, I think this would have been fantastic if well-done on a grand scale. I hope some day this idea is revived. (Someone could do Dante’s Inferno and The Song of Roland as well, and maybe a film about the Crusaders conquering Jerusalem…Godfrey, Bohemund, Tancred, etc.–another of my interests being the historical Crusades. I would love to see very involved movies based on those ideas and literary pieces done on an epic scale).

    • See now part of me would argue that its all fantastical being a non believer and that. However that could be construed as trolling ground. I do however agree that more about the Angels etc. Perhaps the tale of Lucifer, his defiance and banishment from heaven and becoming the Big red we all know today (No not Red Skull you goofs)

      • The big red is not the Morning Star. If you are thinking of the devil from SP, that is a long story how that can into pop culture.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer#Lucifer_or_morning_star

        • Also, Lucifer is not in hell; another misconception. In Job, Lucifer is going between heaven and earth.

  11. they should do a movie on the book of revelations

    • The Omen, Left Behind series, anything Post Apoc, The Stand, I’m sure i am forgetting something. Have you ever read revelations? Not a coherent narrative.

      • Yeahh as much as Revelations is by far my favorite book it would be INSANELY hard to make it into a straightforward story, number one because most of it takes place in a vision haha there’s not really any characters to follow and, also, it’s the only book of the bible that hasn’t happened yet so it’s hard to say what exactly all of it could mean, cause the whole point of revelations is it could begin tonight or it could not happen for another 6 thousand years haha it’s impossible to know!

      • A tremendous amount of symbolism in Revelations. I have read it and thoroughly enjoyed pondering it’s meanings and implications.

        • Such as…?

          • Many theologians modern and not-so-modern have debated how much may be interpreted as literal, and how much of the “fantastic visions” in the book are representative symbols for something else regarding the Apocalypse and Armageddon. It is one of the more interesting books of the Bible, I think.

            • Really, I have read it and I find it to be a mess.

    • yes, a film on the revelations would be cray. chapter 13 stands out in my mind…or what about a film about Johna and the Whale which would be a cross between Castaway and Life of Pi but in a frickin whale!!! LOL

  12. They already did a King David movie with Richard Gere back in 85.

    • So one movie 30 years ago, yeah that is market saturation.

      • Sure… I mean above you describe Moses as well documented, however (in terms of movies) he has one Major pic over 50 years ago and a cartoon movie in the 90s. Not exactly market saturation beyond the fact that The Ten Commandments is a pretty amazing film.

        • Moses with Charston Heston was an huge deal bad in the day. There is a new Moses movie on the way. So, it is well covered. David having one film which was not a big deal 30 years ago is different, just is.

      • Oh no, I was just pointing out that there was a movie about David because I didn’t see it anywhere in the article.

  13. I remember a few years back there was a rumor of Indiana Jones 5 being about find noahs ark. I thought that was a really cool idea. So it probably won’t get made.

    • The trouble with doing Noah’s Ark is that Indy is an archeologist/treasure hunter. So, it does not work for many, many reasons. I can elaborate if you like. The spear of destiny was the logical choice for Indy 4, but they waited too long and Ford’s age required them to set it in the 50s. Indy 4 worked thematically, as a genre film. There was a good reason to include the aliens. Still, not a good execution.

      • The spear of destiny could have worked in the 50s and included Soviets, hidden Nazis and a Nazi hunting Indy. That would have been great. To quote Indy “Nazis, I hate these guys.”

    • I look forward to the new Moses move; I believe it is called Exodus, if I am thinking of the right one. The Ten Commandments was a fantastic movie, very well-done for it’s day. And I love the versatile Charlton Heston. He, Yul Brenner, and numerous other actors and actresses all seemed to be casted perfectly for the film. By the way, any of you horror fans notice Vincent Price had a part in that film?

      • I consider that movie well done for TODAY. That splitting the Red Sea still brings shivers to my spine. I haven’t seen anything that matches the sheer spectacle of TTC.

        • You are right, Kah the Un. I likewise love that scene. I have the movie on DVD, and manage to watch it at least once a year, and it never gets old! Epic scenes like that and some others in the movie just really grip you, and can really move you in dramatic ways. That was how a movie should be done, with drama and great effects; and when it is over, you know you just really watched something special. That movie certainly delivered it’s message!

  14. How about a movie concerning the council at Constantinoble where Emporer Constantine, in order to unite his kingdom, ordered the priests to settle on which books of the bible circulating at the time, would be included in the official canon of the Christian church?

  15. While there might be some potential in Gideon’s or David’s story, the two stories I’d like to the most are Sodom and Gomorrah as well as THE APOCALYPSE! I think is is something that finally could be done with modern-day CGI and truly something that has never been done before. From a religious point of view it might be unbearable to some believers but cinematically it could be awesome to turn John’s visions into film. The Binding of Isaac however is not so interesting it could become a movie on its own…

    • The apocalypse has been done, over and over. The only version I am looking forward to is X-Men: Apocalypse.

      What story would you use from revelations for the “biblical” apocalypse? What imagery from revelations is essential to incorporate? Pitch it to me.

  16. So the biggest name in biblical history and in history in general, doesn’t even get a mention?? How about a new epic film on the life of Jesus Christ..

    • Do you live under a rock? Son of God was just released. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3210686/

      • “Under a rock”…I am so trying hard not to do a dumb joke about “casting the first stone”!!!

        • Isn’t that what you just did though?

          • Uhhh-no.

      • @Bat-Mite – I think what Zipper is saying is an actual movie and not some hyrbid-documentary about His life. Tell me all the things that happened in between the chapters and verses. Jesus was more than just miracles and teachings – He walked, slept, ate, did laundry…heck, show me his life growing up learning how to be a carpenter.

        Just a lot of potential there I think that can and should be explored.

        Paul

        • Dude, Jesus has had many, many versions on film and tv. Use google.

          • @Bat-mite – You’re either missing my point or I’m not explaining it properly (most likely the latter). I’ve seen all those films depicting Jesus’ life – I’m just looking for something that doesn’t come across as a count-by-count retelling of His life, chapter-by-chapter.

            Paul

            • Ok, I see what you are saying. The trouble is that there are missing chapters. What was Jesus’s life lie at 20? I think that is one of the lapses in the narrative history.

  17. For my money, I would gleefully watch an adaption of the book called “Drunk With Blood: God’s Killings In The Bible”.

    Since most Christians have never actually read the bible, it would be an eye-opening experience.

    It would make for a fascinating bigger budget documentary or miniseries too!

    Hell, it could be like Game Of Thrones…. only much more violent and insane.

    Come to think of it… that’s a good analogy… the Bible is pretty much like Game Of Thrones.

  18. Did any of y’all watch Kings on NBC (?). I believe it was cancelled during the first season. It was a reimagining of David’s rise to fame in modern times. I didn’t like that it was cancelled. It was pretty entertaining and my only complaint was the liberties taken with one of the characters. It was quite a fun premise, though.

    • Yeap. 2009.

      How could it go wrong with Ian McShane as King Silas and a young David who save’s the king’s son in war. A war that Silas’ brother-in-law is profiting from.

      Loved the ‘half my kingdom it is.’ part in the first episode.
      At the end Silas watches as the butterflies ring David’s head, just as they did to Silas years ago.

      They did make changes though, set in modern day, prince and princess reversal of who is friendly to David.

  19. Noah was a POS. From script writing to story line…it was completely brutal. A complete waste of time.

  20. Gideon: a case of being able to say you could do more with less! Sounds like it was the original “300″!

  21. The Maccabees were busy bees! As for the Menorah staying lit for 8 days instead of 1, well, if this were modern times, i would say they got one of those new curly-cue extended life lightbulbs, but since it was in ancient Biblical days, well, mysterious are the ways of the Lord!

  22. That Joshua was a heck of a musician! His horn ensemble really brought the house, er, walls down!

  23. How has King David not already been done?

  24. Whew! Close call for Isaac! And here I think I have problems when I get “tied up” at work!

  25. Pass the asprin! Looks like that David gave Goliath a splitting headache!
    (Speaking of which,m thinking of Avengers #2, “WHERE’S GOLIATH?!”)

  26. Thank you, Andrew Dyce, for an interesting and informatiuve article. And I love the classical paintings and illustrations that accompanied your article (I love classical painting and art!). I am sure a lot of readers actually learned something from this article.

  27. The story of Adam would leave not a dry eye in the building,
    and his ongoing bullying from the accuser is epic.

  28. A Movie about Samson would be great. He’s the biblical version of the Hulk.

    • More akin to Heracles.

  29. Noah a Hollywood hero after being portrayed as a nutter waiting around for his sons babies to be born so he can kill them.

    That might have better read now that Noah has been portrayed as a Hollywood Psycho.