Now that The Gospel of John is out on video (click here to read the review), the project's creators, The Visual Bible International, Inc. (VBI), turn their attention to making The Gospel of Mark.

The new film will feature input from Robert Fowler, Ph.D., chair of the religion department at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Fowler is on the advisory committee for Mark, and in that role will help the producer, director and screenwriter to better understand the biblical text and to help them avoid errors.

Fowler is "delighted" to be on the advisory committee, "because the transformation of the biblical traditions in the Electronic Age has been my major teaching and research interest for the past decade or so. Working with VBI brings me into the laboratory, so to speak, where an important hands-on experiment is taking place."

Here is an interview with Fowler, as provided by Baldwin-Wallace College:

What is the significance of The Gospel of John and The Gospel of Mark films?

Fowler: "In the church and in the academic world, the tendency has been to disintegrate the Scriptures into bite-sized pieces. The result is that seldom do the lay people in the pews have a grasp of an entire biblical book, only bits and pieces.

"The gospels were probably intended to be experienced at a single sitting, in their entirety, in oral performance. Not since the earliest days of the church have they been experienced this way. However, many people today are beginning to recover the experience of the Gospels as whole, complete stories, to be taken in at a single sitting. This is one of the big accomplishments of the film of The Gospel of John: it gives us all of the Gospel of John, from beginning to end. To many people who have never read or never sat through a complete performance of any biblical book from beginning to end, this will be a revelation."

Other reasons why these films are important?

Fowler: "Movies and television are the primary ways that people experience lengthy stories today. We are undergoing a shift in the dominant communication medium of our culture, from a print culture to an electronic, digital culture

"Once upon a time, much of the material in the Bible would have been performed orally. Then came the days when it began to be written by hand. With the invention of the printing press, we began to have printed Bibles. Today, the next great transformation is taking place, the mutation of the biblical traditions from the printed page to electronic, digital media. It is exciting to be involved in the work of the VBI, because it's like being a midwife present at the birth of the next major media form of the biblical traditions.

"VBI and other organizations are pioneering in the production of the earliest experimental forms of the Bible in the new media. Working with VBI is like being present for the invention of the alphabet, or the invention of the printing press, or at Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers first flew, or at Cape Canaveral, when the first Americans were sent into space."

For you, what is the significance of being on this committee?

Fowler: "I would not claim that the VBI films are anything more than experimental efforts to translate the Bible into a new medium, although films of the Bible are over 100 years old. In another 20 or 30 years we may be doing something very different. But I suspect we are in the early days of something momentous. It's wonderful to be present at the start of something so potentially significant."

What are your thoughts on The Gospel of John film?

Fowler: "I had no direct input into the John film. But I have seen it, and there is much in the film that I like very much. But being a scholar and having lots of educated opinions on things, there are a number of things I would have done differently. But even the scholars who did have a lot of input into the John film would say the same thing: In an enterprise like this, there are many players, and each person only has one voice to offer. It's a group effort from beginning to end."

What do you envision for The Gospel of Mark film?

Fowler: "I will have a lot of input on that. I don't know whether to be nervous about them not listening to me enough or about them listening to me too much! It's an awesome thing to consider that my ideas on certain aspects of Mark might end up on a movie screen for the whole world to see. And even though I am supposed to be the Mark 'expert' on the committee, I am only one voice, and it is a joint effort of the whole organization, from start to finish.

"Probably the biggest concern I have with the Mark film is that we absolutely must get across to our audiences that Mark's gospel is different from John's gospel. If we do our work right, people who have seen the John film should be mildly (or greatly!) shocked by the differences between John and Mark. They are utterly different stories with utterly different portrayals of Jesus. This has been missed by the casual reader of the Gospels through the centuries, so we will be doing the world a great favor if we can carefully and persuasively communicate these radically different portrayals of Jesus of Nazareth."

Adapted from news releases from Baldwin-Wallace College. For more information on Dr. Robert Fowler, go to