It makes sense of course. Whilst the credibility of the plot has never been uppermost in the Bond movies, a background of cold-war hostilities is remote to the experience of recent generations. Eventually, no matter how much fun the movie, the audience becomes older and the divide between the traditional viewers and new potential viewers becomes too great – and the latter simply don’t see it as their kind of thing. Cue reboot.
It’s not a new phenomenon. It’s the way scripture developed too. The classic stories of the Bible were the super-popular movies of the day. Told and retold by master-storytellers, just as todays movies come to life in the hands of gifted screen-writers and directors, so the well-known characters and events burst into life for their milieu.
But what happened when the milieu changed? What happened to those stories when the people moved from a place of tranquil security to one of imminent disaster, when they went from freedom to slavery, when they fragmented from one kingdom to two? Reboot. Same basic story, same characters, above all, same God. But with the whole, re-cast for the new generation.
For example, the books of Joshua and Judges are traditionally read as one sequential story: A united Israel’s lightning conquest of the land (Joshua), followed by the struggles to hold the land due to their disobedience and disunity (Judges). But even a superficial reading shows that it is much more complex than that. Victories attributed to Joshua are attributed to David in Kings. Cities listed as conquered, people described as destroyed in Joshua are still being fought in Judges. Even in Joshua there is a persistent voice suggesting it was anything but a quick and complete series of victories.
So what really happened? What emerges when we look at it not as two distinct and sequential histories, but as one history, is a composite view that matches much more of the archaeological evidence. A view that describes a few quick victories on the periphery of the land followed by a steady settlement over a long period of time. A process of quickly gaining a foothold, with repeated skirmishes against indigenous people. A process, not of a triumphant new nation, but of a loose federation of tribes desperately clinging to their identity and territory, coming together briefly to fight for a common purpose, but more often fighting each other and making alliances with anyone who would protect them. And in all probability, this is what is told, what becomes the oral and written histories, what becomes the standard for a people now settled and at peace in the land..
But as the Kingdom splits, as the consequences of sin loom, as the prophecies of defeat and exile come closer, a balanced history no longer seems relevant to the new generation. And so they do a reboot and ‘Judges’ is born. A reboot of what the compilers knew to be the historical sequence, re-written for the current milieu. The new is still anchored in historical fact: The people had been disparate tribes wandering nomadically, they did cross the Jordan and ultimately, take the Land. It is driven by the same undergirding view of God: Despite our failings, God is faithful to His promises, God is with us in our battles, He leads us from the place of slavery, the wilderness places into the land of promise and He gives us victory despite overwhelming odds. But these facts and truths are set against the backdrop of current situation: A broken Kingdom, fragmentation, unholy alliances, of being assailed because they had moved outside God’s protection. So the reboot focusses on those dynamics: How the people in the past tainted themselves, how their sin caused them to endure defeat, how God’s promises were thwarted and delayed. Judges tells the same story, but explains it to this new generation, providing meaning to their current circumstances and giving hope for the future; In times past, Israel’s unholiness had resulted in defeat, in battles and pain. But under God they had eventually become one nation and won freedom in the Land, so this new generation, facing the same problems, could experience the same.
In the same way, Joshua is a reboot for a new generation. A generation now enslaved in exile, the consequences of their sin and rebellion now unfolding. A generation that needs, not a warning of the consequence of sin, but a new hero, a new hope of rescue, a new dream of national identity. The story told from the old perspective simply reminds them of why they are now here, it offers little in the way of hope for the future. And so the reboot focuses on a national leader of a united nation. It emphasises victory against the odds, of divine intervention, of sin being defeated and holiness restored.
When you read each story, you recognise it is part of the same franchise. Just as in a Bond movie, the elements are going to be the same – the Bond girls, M, Q, the car chase, the gadgets, the near-death adventure, the sardonic one-liners, the ultimate victory. The same ethos whether it is the 1960’s Cold War version or the 2013 International Crime reboot – both recognisably Bond. So with Joshua and Judges, the same, God inspiring the writers, both versions rooted in historic reality, the same characters, the same plot elements. But each re-written for the needs of the new generation.
We do the same today of course. We don’t physically re-write the scripture, but we reinterpret it. The focus changes based on the audience, the understanding adjusts according to the culture of the day. We take the truth embedded in scripture and we communicate it in a way that is relevant to the people and the situation.
Welcome to the reboot.