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Son of God (2014)

Starring Diogo Morgado, Roma Downey, Darwin Shaw, Greg Hicks, Joe Wredden | based on the History Channel miniseries 'The Bible'

Son of God Movie vs. Bible

Questioning the Story:

Did Jesus really have long hair like in Son of God?

Jesus as Portrayed in Son of God
Most religious historians agree that Jesus had short hair instead of the long woman-like hair seen in Son of God.
No. The feminine looking Jesus that we see in the Son of God movie (and pretty much everywhere else) is most likely based on the paintings that came out of the Renaissance of the 1400s and 1500s, which portrayed Jesus with European features, in addition to feminine eyes and long hair. Such depictions were popular at the time, but in no way mean that these features were popular during Jesus's time.

In fact, when comparing the Son of God movie vs. the Bible, the latter states that long hair is a shameful thing for men, but for women, long hair is necessary for a covering. "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" (Corinthians 11:14). "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering" (Corinthians 11:15). These principles written by Paul suggest that Jesus did not have long womanly hair. After all, not only was short hair the custom during Jesus's day, how could Paul give such a teaching in the Bible if it had been known that Jesus indeed had long hair?

Did Jesus really have a beard?

This aspect of Jesus's physical appearance has been debated as well, but many scholars agree that Jesus most likely had a beard, if not for the simple fact that the Scriptures convey that Jesus did not look any different than a normal Jewish man of his time (Luke 2:52, Isaiah 53:2, Matthew 26:48-50). Also, if he had the uncommon characteristics of no beard and long hair, then Judas would have been able to point him out to the soldiers instead of having to identify Jesus with a kiss. Prior accounts in the Bible of Jesus slipping away and blending into the crowds provide further evidence that he looked like most other men of his day. In addition, we know that Jesus carefully abided by Mosaic Law, which prohibited the cutting of the edges of the beard and the cutting of sideburns (Leviticus 19:27, 21:5).

Who is the actor who plays Jesus in the Son of God movie?

Dubbed "Hot Jesus" by fans on the social networking website Twitter (#HotJesus), 6 foot 3 Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays the central figure of Christianity in the Son of God movie, reprising his role from The Bible miniseries which premiered in March of 2013 on the History Channel. Roma Downey, who stars in the movie as Mary and also produced both the film and the miniseries with her husband Mark Burnett, says that in casting Morgado, they were searching for an actor who was "strong and charismatic, who could also be a carpenter" (New York Times).

Actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus and in Real Life
Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado has been dubbed "Hot Jesus" by fans.

After spending close to two hours watching a father and son praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Diogo Morgado realized the responsibility he had. "We live in a visual world now," the actor told Good Morning America. "Kids can learn a lot by seeing things rather than reading it. So I really understood the responsibility." Born in 1980, Diogo Morgado started his career when he was fourteen, working as a model. He transitioned into Portuguese telenovelas and TV series. Since starring in The Bible miniseries, he has since been seen in the premiere episode of the third season of the ABC drama Revenge, playing recurring character Dr. Jorge Velez.

The Hot Jesus Son of God controversy that began when the The Bible miniseries aired has caused some viewers and those in the media to wonder whether portraying Jesus as handsome or "physically perfect" (according to CNN) is actually making him less relatable to the audience. Hot Jesus himself, actor Diogo Morgado, told The New York Times, "It's a compliment, obviously, but I don't want that to take away from what we tried to achieve. The best story is the story that gets to the most people. If the message of Jesus was love, hope and compassion, and I can bring that to more people by being a more appealing Jesus, I am happy with that."

Where was Jesus baptized?

As depicted in the movie, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. The event is referenced in the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Along with his crucifixion, many scholars see it as one of the two historically certain aspects of his life. It also marks the beginning of his public ministry.

Jesus (Diogo Morgado) is baptized by John the Baptist (Daniel Percival) in the Son of God movie.

In the Bible, is the title "Son of God" used only to describe Jesus?

No. In the Old Testament the title "son of God" is used to describe persons having any special relationship with God. This includes pious and just men, angels, and the descendants of Seth, who were referred to as "sons of God" (Psalm 88:7; Job 1:6, 2:1; Wisdom 2:13; etc.). In addition, the leaders of the people, including kings, princes, and judges, who were seen as being instilled with authority from God, were labeled sons of God. The theocratic king was considered a lieutenant of God. In a similar vein, God considered Israel as a nation to be his son. "And thou shalt say to him: Thus saith the Lord: Israel is my son, my firstborn. I have said to thee: Let my son go, that he may serve me" (Exodus 4:22 sq.).

In the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament, the title "Son of God" is often used in reference to Jesus Christ. This is where the movie's title comes from. For example, the Confession of St. Peter implies that Jesus is much more than the Messias (the theocratic king). "Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:15-16). Peter's conversation with Jesus is depicted in the Son of God movie. Like in the movie, Jesus goes on to tell Peter that "it is upon this rock that I will build my church."

What is the first miracle that Jesus performed?

When evaluating the Son of God movie vs. the Bible, we discovered that the first miraculous sign Jesus performed, turning water to wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, was left out of the movie. In the Bible, this miracle unfolds in the Gospel of John. Other miracles were also left out of the movie, including giving a blind man sight.

Jesus and Peter Walk on Water
Peter (Darwin Shaw) and Jesus (Diogo Morgado) walk on water in the Son of God movie.
Which two men walked on water in the Bible?

Like in the movie, Jesus and Peter are the only two men to walk on water in the Bible. This miracle took place at the Sea of Galilee.

Did anything miraculous happen on the movie set?

Yes. Son of God producer and actress Roma Downey described one such occurrence during an interview with Sean Hannity. "When we were on set and we were about to shoot the crucifixion sequence, which was the most challenging of sequences - logistically, spiritually, emotionally - we asked everybody we knew to send prayers to make sure that we would get through that one. And we had a man whose job it was on the set to clear snakes and scorpions, and on any given day maybe he cleared one or two snakes. On the morning of the crucifixion, he got up to the set and he had a cloth bag on the side of the road that was writhing, and he had cleared over forty snakes from around the foot of the cross."

She continued, "And, you know I think the symbolism of the snake wasn't lost on any of us, and we couldn't help but feel it was like a spiritual clearing had gone in ahead, and we certainly have felt that all through the project, all through the film, that there has been a kind of spiritual clearing..." -Hannity

What language did Jesus really speak?

No, as you probably already knew, Jesus did not speak English like in the Son of God movie and The Bible miniseries. In fact, the earliest form of English, Old English, is believed to have emerged long after Jesus's lifetime (fifth century A.D.), and it is barely recognizable to Modern English, the most widely used language today. With regard to the Son of God, it is believed that he primarily spoke Aramaic and certainly knew Hebrew and possibly Greek (arguments have been made for Jesus knowing other languages as well). If you recall, director Mel Gibson's 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ was shot in Aramaic and Latin, forcing nearly all viewers to follow the entire movie via subtitles.

How did husband and wife producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey find the means to make the movie?

Mark Burnett is a thriving television producer who has found success primarily in reality programming, including Survivor, The Apprentice, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, Shark Tank and The Voice. His wife Roma Downey starred for nine seasons on the 1990s television series Touched by an Angel. There successes have allowed them the financial means to pursue projects they're both passionate about, including The Bible miniseries and Son of God movie.

Roma Downey with co-star Della Reese in Touched by an Angel (1994) and Downey (right) as Mary, Mother of Jesus in 2014's Son of God.

Why did producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett want to make the Son of God movie?

"...I think that this film is very important," says Roma Downey, "particularly for our new generation, that they would know and understand Jesus, that they would have an opportunity to see what an amazing man he was and how much God loved us that he sent us Jesus." Downey produced the film along with her husband Mark Burnett. -Hannity

Did Roma Downey and husband Mark Burnett only decide to make the movie after seeing the success of their miniseries The Bible?

Son of God producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett
Husband and wife producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, pictured in 2013. Photo courtesy of Roma Downey.
No. Although it's hard to argue the financial benefits of turning the highly successful Bible miniseries into a movie, the producers actually came up with the idea some time prior to the airing of the miniseries. A few weeks into shooting The Bible miniseries, producer and actress Roma Downey was so moved by Diogo Morgado's portrayal of Jesus that she told her husband Mark Burnett that those scenes deserved to be expanded into a major motion picture seen in communities on the big screen. -Hannity

Was the Son of God movie filmed differently than the TV miniseries The Bible?

No. "It wasn't shot any differently," says producer Mark Burnett. "We use different camera angles. We shoot so much film of every scene it's easy to make alternate choices."

Was footage from the miniseries used in the movie?

Yes. Footage from the 10-hour miniseries and additional footage shot at the time the miniseries was filmed appears in the Son of God movie. Roma Downey says that as the Jesus narrative started to unfold while they were shooting The Bible miniseries, additional footage was shot with the intention of expanding that narrative into a major motion picture. -Hannity

Did the filmmakers purposely omit the Devil from the movie because of The Bible miniseries controversy?

"Absolutely on purpose," admits producer and star Roma Downey. "I absolutely wanted the Devil on the cutting room floor. I felt that the conversation that ignited after that moment in the miniseries served to be such a distraction and this movie, Son of God, is a movie about Jesus, and I didn't want to give Satan any more airtime." -Hannity

Actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni as Satan and Barack Obama
Actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni (left) as Satan in The Bible miniseries bears an uncanny resemblance to Barack Obama (right). The producers claim that it was not intentional. As a result of The Bible miniseries controversy, they decided not to include Satan in the Son of God movie.

Do the producers admit that the Devil from The Bible miniseries looks a lot like Barack Obama?

"Well, listen," says Roma Downey, "it was never the intention. I regret that it became the distraction that it became. You know, we were expecting Jesus on the screen. I was sure that everybody would be speaking the name Jesus, that that would be the point of conversation around the water cooler. And then I thought, isn't that just like the Devil, to be the narcissist that he is, that it somehow became all about him, because you know it's in this spiritual warfare of light and darkness, you know, when you do something that is filled
Actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni The Bible Miniseries
Moroccan actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni portrayed Satan in The Bible miniseries.
with light, as this is, the intention of this is to shine a light in the dark, that the darkness pushes back." Roma emphasized that the Devil will remain on the cutting room floor. -Hannity

Moroccan actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni (pictured left), who portrayed Satan in The Bible miniseries, spent an hour and a half in the makeup chair to achieve the controversial look. "...I was so surprised," Ouazzani told The Associated Press. "For someone like me, a simple unknown actor, to find himself in a controversy like this — even though it's nonsense — it makes me known around the world, so it's something positive," he remarked with a chuckle. Both the movie and the miniseries were shot in Ouazanni's native country of Morocco.

Was anything else left out of the movie that could have stirred up controversy?

Yes. The film omits certain parts of the Bible that could have sparked more Bible miniseries/Son of God controversy. This includes Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (foot-bathing is also a Muslim practice that is part of the religious cleansing procedure known as Wudu). Another potentially controversial part of the Bible is when Mary spreads an expensive fragrance on Jesus's feet.

Did Pontius Pilate's wife really have a dream about Jesus?

Yes. According to Matthew 27:19 in the New Testament, Pilate's wife sent a message to him requesting that he not condemn Jesus Christ to death. "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him."

Whose tomb was Jesus buried in?

Though it's not stated in the movie, Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. According to all four Gospels, St. Joseph of Arimathea donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus. Joseph, who is described as being a wealthy man in Matthew 27:57, went to Pilate after the crucifixion and requested the body of Jesus. Pilate allowed Joseph's request.

Jesus and Thomas after the Resurrection
After his resurrection, Jesus (Diogo Morgado) convinces Thomas (Matthew Gravelle) that he is real by showing Thomas the hole in his hand from being on the cross.

How did the filmmakers decide which parts of the gospel to include in the movie?

In looking at the Son of God movie vs. the Bible, we began to wonder how the people behind the movie decided on what parts of the Bible to include in the film. Producers Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, along with their team of filmmakers, carefully selected particular highlights that conveyed the character and nature of Jesus as the true Son of God.

What are the differences between The Passion of the Christ and Son of God?

The most obvious difference between Son of God and 2004's The Passion of the Christ is the fact that Son of God was shot predominately in English and in The Passion of the Christ, only the ancient languages of Aramaic and Latin are spoken, with viewers having to read subtitles to keep up with the story.

Another obvious difference between The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus, is its R rating. Son of God toned down the violence for a PG-13 rating. This isn't to say that the crucifixion in Son of God is easy to watch. It still contains a good bit of violence. The difference throughout the film is that less violence is shown and it is not quite as graphic.

Diogo Morgado and Jim Caviezel
Son of God's Diogo Morgado as Jesus (left). Actor Jim Caviezel took on the role in 2004's The Passion of the Christ (right).

Perhaps the most significant difference between The Passion of the Christ and Son of God is that the former only focused on three days in Jesus's life, while the latter provides a great deal of backstory, chronicling many of the events in Jesus's life prior to his arrest. This includes his birth in Bethlehem and his baptism by John the Baptist, in addition to focusing on the humanity of Jesus by putting more emphasis on the miracles that he performed. Some of the miracles depicted in the film include walking on water, the feeding of the multitude, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Producer Mark Burnett believes that depicting the humanity allows the audience to feel closer to Jesus by the time he is arrested. "In this, by the time he's arrested you've fallen so in love with the humanity of Jesus. It's God on Earth," says Burnett, "but you've fallen in love with the humanity when he's arrested." -Hannity

It should also be noted that the film actually opens prior to Jesus's birth, with a declaration from the book of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." The movie also includes a scene of Adam being created from the dirt and scenes of Noah and Moses, all building up to the start of the story of Jesus.

Does the movie have the support of religious leaders?

Joel Osteen and Mark Burnett on Set
Lakewood Church televangelist Joel Osteen on set with producer Mark Burnett. Lakewood is the largest church in the United States.
Yes. Many religious leaders not only voiced their support for the Son of God movie (see videos below), they booked screenings and secured pre-sale tickets for their congregations. In addition to renting out theaters, some groups even rented out entire multiplexes. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., called the film "engaging and compelling" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Popular TV minister Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Texas helped to pack theaters by giving away 9,000 tickets. In addition, an anonymous donor at the church picked up the tab for another 8,800 tickets for opening weekend. "Having spent time with them on the set, Victoria and I witnessed firsthand the deep and abiding passion they possess for God's word," says Osteen of producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. "They have produced an epic work that tells the story of Jesus and touches the heart" (Houston Chronicle).

Son of God Interviews, Movie Trailers, and Related Video

Watch both the Son of God trailer and The Bible miniseries trailer for a preview of the biblical stories told by each film. Also, listen to prominent religious leaders as they analyze Son of God movie scenes and share their praise for the film.

 Son of God Peter Goes Fishing Scene with Commentary by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

Watch the Son of God scene where Jesus goes fishing with Peter. The movie scene is combined with an interview and commentary from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, a cardinal of the Catholic Church who is the current Archbishop of Washington.

 Son of God Walking on Water Scene with Commentary by Joel Osteen

Watch the Son of God walking on water scene along with an interview and commentary by televangelist Joel Osteen, Senior Pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church, the largest church in the United States. The Son of God movie scene depicts Jesus calling out to Peter, who then gets out of his boat and proceeds to walk on water towards Jesus.

 Son of God Last Supper Scene with Commentary by Archbishop Jose Gomez

Watch Jesus and his disciples break bread at the Last Supper as this scene from the Son of God movie unfolds with commentary from José Gómez, the current Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles. During the Son of God Last Supper scene, Jesus encourages the Apostles not to be afraid and to trust in God and him. The scene ends with Peter telling Jesus that he will lay down his life for him.

 The Bible Miniseries Satan Scene

Watch The Bible miniseries scene with Satan, portrayed by Moroccan actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni. This scene, in which Satan tempts Jesus in the desert, generated controversy when the media began to point out the uncanny resemblance between Satan and Barack Obama. It prompted the History Channel, which aired The Bible miniseries, to release a statement that described the similarities in appearance between Satan and Obama as a "false connection." The statement went on to say that the "History Channel has the highest respect for President Obama." Producer Mark Burnett called the association "utter nonsense."

 Son of God Interview - Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Diogo Morgado

Watch the Son of God interview with Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and actor Diogo Morgado, who took on the title role in the film. The interviewer asks a number of questions, including do they attribute their successes in life to faith or very hard work? What do they hope non-believers come away with after seeing the film? They also discuss the future 2015 religious TV series A.D. that continues the story.

 The Bible Miniseries Trailer

An extended trailer for The Bible, the highly successful 10-hour miniseries from creators and producers Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) and husband Mark Burnett (The Voice, Shark Tank, Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice) that aired on the History Channel in March of 2013. The Bible miniseries inspired Downey and Burnett to produce the major motion picture Son of God, which includes most of the same cast.

 Son of God Movie Trailer

Watch the Son of God movie trailer for the film based on Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's ten-hour History Channel miniseries The Bible. Actor Diogo Morgado reprises his role as Jesus and Roma Downey again portrays Mother Mary.

Link-to-Learn More:

The Bible
The Epic Miniseries