Will “Exodus: Gods and Kings” Sanitize Moses?

Exodus-Gods-Kings-Ridley-ScotThe first trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings has finally arrived. My big question is, will Moses be the broadly sanitized version of Prince of Egypt to satisfy Evangelical families or will he be the brutal leader he is often portrayed as in the Bible?

In other words, every time a movie like this hits the theater, many conservative evangelicals want it to closely follow the biblical text for purposes of “accuracy,” but if Ridley Scott brings that view of accuracy to the table, what you are left with is a brutal man and a movie unfit for families.

I might be missing something online, but so far it appears that the movie is ending after the Exodus, which means that Moses will possibly kill an Egyptian—which was portrayed as an accident in Prince of Egypt, but was full-on murder in Exodus—and the rest of the violence will be on God’s hands, so to speak. But if the movie goes to the end of his life, will Moses be the guy who was angry with his army for sparing women and children and gave his men permission to rape young girls, as in Numbers 31?

I wrote about this violent side to the Bible at On Faith a little while back, when I interviewed a few evangelical professors who do have a problem with the popular sanitizing of the violence of the Bible. (You can read that here: “Let There Be Violence? A growing rift emerges within evangelicalism over how to read the dark side of the Bible.“)

I’m not necessarily against the practice of midrashing when it comes to biblical movies, as in the case of Noah (see my article “Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’ can be epic, but there’s a catch“), or with telling the story as it is, if that is possible since there are often details that make it difficult. For example, what name should be used for Moses’s father in law? Should it be Jethro (Ex. 3:1), Reuel (Ex. 2:18), or Hobab (Judges. 4:11)? (Go with Hobab, of course, since it is much more fun to say.) But I wonder how the reaction would be if the movie fully explored the life of Moses. In any case, the new trailer is below and looks kinda cool.

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