A Biblical Version of Game of Thrones is Coming to TV. Will You Watch it?

Martin Freeman, known for his roles in the television show “Sherlock” as well as the original “Office,” and perhaps most notably “The Hobbit,” is now bringing John Milton’s famous poem “Paradise Lost” to screen in a TV adaptation. Though the jury is out on whether or not Freeman will actually appear in the show, he has agreed to produce the series.

In addition to news that Freeman will direct the show, Dancing Ledge has agreed to make the series. According to Variety, CEO Laurence Bowen described the show by saying, “‘Paradise Lost’ is like a biblical ‘Game of Thrones,’ transporting the reader into an internecine world of political intrigue and incredible violence. At stake? The future of mankind.” Adds Freeman, “‘Paradise Lost’ is epic, exciting, and surprisingly modern. And maybe the first time the devil gets all the best tunes!”

“Paradise Lost” as a 17th Century Poem

Since no writers or network are even attached to the show as of yet, it is hard to say what direction it will take or what unique spin Freeman will put on the production, but a look at the 17th century poem should provide some insight. “Paradise Lost” remains one of the greatest and all-time most-read poems in our English language. It tells a story of innocence vs. corruption, where God and Satan are fighting a battle for the future of mankind. At the center of it?–a couple named Adam and Eve whose eventual fall and exodus from the Garden set the wheels in motion for magnanimous love and spiritual redemption.

Cautions and Considerations

At first glance, the premise of the poem is promising. And since it has deep and apparent biblical roots, what harm could there be in enjoying the work as entertainment? From a Christian perspective, the goal of fiction in any form should be an aim to see events and ideas in life more accurately.

There is little room for doubt that Milton leaned heavily on biblical material to write “Paradise Lost.” For centuries, Christians have enjoyed studying and discussing the 12 complex books that make up the epic poem. That said, there is plenty of room for the work to be interpreted in multiple ways.

Readers hostile to Christianity or the gospel, for instance, have been known to interpret “Paradise Lost” by making Satan a sort of sympathetic hero and God a sort of unsympathetic or heartless villain. They have also been known to call Milton a misogynist because of his unapologetic placement of Adam as the head of the family.

Christians have read the text and come away with an entirely different perspective–seeing Satan and God for who they are. These conflicting viewpoints have cast the poem into an inescapable, controversial category.

Satan as Hero or Villain

One example of how the poem can be interpreted in vastly different ways is that Satan is portrayed as an appealing character. In some ways, this may be true to life. Would Eve have fallen prey to his temptation had he been anything else? The Bible describes Satan–prior to his act of rebellion–as a beautiful and glorious being. That he could convince angels to join him in his downfall would indicate a gift of persuasion. Yet, as students of the Bible fully understand, being “beautiful and glorious” is not synonymous with “good or sympathetic,” and casting Satan in a way that makes him heroic is problematic.

Answering the Question

So in answer to the original question, “Should Christians watch the new TV show based on John Milton’s controversial poem?” The answer is maybe, or more specifically, “with reservations.” The poem itself should not be a deterrent. Many Christians have done well to study the poem and learn from Milton’s keen insights in human nature. The fact that Freeman will direct the production–as a devout Roman Catholic–could indicate he will go light on blatant sacrilege.

At the same time, the initial feedback to Variety in which Bowen compares the show to “Game of Thrones” and references “incredible violence” should raise some flags. Freeman’s description of the show as “surprisingly modern” and one in which “the devil gets all the best tunes” should make Christians suspicious at best, and uninterested at worst. Either way, the show will likely reignite conversations and debates around the centuries-old text, and that may not be an entirely bad thing.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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