The Holy Bible is the best-selling book of all time, and the History Channel miniseries of the same name is getting a taste of that success. Its ratings were through the roof, beating the finale of AMC’s wildly popular “The Walking Dead.” This was followed by DVD sales that skyrocketed it into the position of top selling miniseries of all time and the best selling television-to-DVD series in the last five years.
All of that happened back in April, so how are sales of the miniseries holding up after hitting more than half a million in the first week? By June, “The Bible” had surpassed one million in DVD and Blu-ray sales, and it’s still so popular that it’s going to get a second life on the big screen.
Producer Mark Burnett has linked up with 20th Century Fox to create a theatrical version. The movie will be called Son of God and will be made up of footage from “The Bible,” including scenes that were not seen in the original version. Although there’s no official date yet, it’s slated for 2014.
When it was on television, the first episode of “The Bible” was seen by 13.1 million people, with 10.8 million returning for episode two and 10.9 million watching episode three. Overall, in all its airings on the History Channel, it has been seen by over 100 million viewers. The phenomenal DVD sales raked in a huge profit for the History Channel, since production costs for the whole series were less than $22 million.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that “The Bible” is a strong seller with enough staying power to make it worthy of a theatrical release, since the King James Version of the Holy Bible itself is the best-selling book of all time. A recent study commissioned by the American Bible Society revealed that 88 percent of adults surveyed say their household owns a Bible. Among those who consider themselves non-practicing Christians, 91 percent own a Bible.
Interestingly, homes with Bibles tend to own more than one copy. The average is actually four, according to the American Bible Society study. Among those who read the Bible, more than two-thirds reported giving it a great deal of thought on how they can apply its principles to their lives.
Bible study is important, and a television series like “The Bible” can help stir more interest in the actual book. In the American Bible Society study, respondents reported frustration with reading the Bible for reasons like not being able to relate to the language, not understanding the historical context and just not feeling excited about it. A visual interpretation can bring back that excitement, show the context and present the material in an easy-to-understand way.
The top reason for not reading the Bible was a simply lack of time. That might be driving the amazing sales numbers and staying power of the miniseries “The Bible” because people can add it to their home libraries and watch it when they have a chance.
It’s important to expose ourselves to God’s Word, and while the Bible is the main source, a miniseries like “The Bible” is another pathway. We’re told in the Book of Matthew that:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. —Matthew 24:35, KJV
That means God’s Word will be with us always, and in this digital age we can seek it in many ways, like on smart phones and e-readers. In the American Bible Society study, 41 percent of respondents had read Bible content on their computers, 29 percent used smart phones and apps to search for verses, 26 percent listened to Bible podcasts, and 17 percent used a device like an iPad or Kindle to read the Bible.
The study also found that 42 percent of adults said they would definitely or probably go to see a Bible-based movie in the theater. The runaway success of “The Bible” miniseries DVD sales, and the fact that it’s coming to movie theaters, shows that interest is even greater for at-home visual media. It’s nice to know that God’s Word is a bestseller in any form.