From time to time, Hollywood directors film parts of the Bible. Usually the Gospels, or Genesis, Exodus, Judges, and 1-2 Samuel. These cinematic adaptions of Scripture are widely variable in quality (not to mention orthodoxy). Sometimes they're visually impressive. Sometimes campy, subversive, or banal. Needless to say, most Hollywood directors aren't orthodox Christians, so they're not concerned with accuracy.
That said, it's actually a useful exercise for a Christian to put himself in the director's chair when reading the Bible. By that I mean, a director who films the Bible has to visualize what the narrative is describing. He must make judgment calls on how it happened.
If we take the Bible seriously, as we should, then it's good to mentally visualize Biblical narratives. If you were a Christian director, what would you show? When you read the narrative, what do you see in your mind's eye? Part of interpretating Scripture and honoring the historicity of Scripture is to have a realistic picture of what the narrative describes. Let's take some examples:
i) One question scholars debate is whether Gen 1:1 is an introduction to the creation week, or part of day one. If the former, then the primeval sea preexists creation. But I think 1:1 is part of day one.
ii) How would you depict the Spirit of God hovering over the waters? One possibility is a dove. Obviously, you cann't see anything or show anything absent a light source.
Another possibility, drawn from other parts of the Pentateuch, is to depict the Spirit of God as the Shekinah hovering above the waters. In OT, the Shekinah has the appearance of a plasma cloud. Luminous. Technicolored (like a rainbow). That would enable the viewer to see the primordial ocean, illuminated by the Shekinah.
The separation of light and darkness refers to the origin of the diurnal cycle. So you could show first light, dawn, morning light, noonday light, afternoon light, and dusk. And fading from day into night would separate each day from the next. You'd show the beginning of each new day by first light or dawn. That would distinguish and transition from one scene to the next.
iii) On day two you'd shift from showing the primordial ocean to showing the sky. Illuminated clouds. The horizon line between sky and sea.
iv) On day three you'd show the land rising out of the sea. Like volcanic islands. Ascending mountain ranges. Valleys. Coastlines. Lakes and rivers.
You'd then show, like time-lapse photography, the barren earth erupting in foliage.
v) Day four might be a flashback to day one, catching up to days two and three. If days one-through-three show lighted objects, day four shows the light sources. The perspective would shift from a downward view of the illuminated earth to an upward view of the luminaries. You could also show moonlight on lakes and seas. Day four would fade out with a view of the star-studded night sky.
vi) Day five might show fish materializing in the sea, lakes, and rivers–as well as birds materializing. One might show matter organizing into fish and birds. Show atoms forming molecules, forming cells, forming bodies. From the inside out, in ascending scales of complexity and magnitude. Rather like Ezekiel's description in Ezk 37.
vii) Day six would repeat the process for land animals.
viii) When we come to the creation of man, day six in Gen 1 shades into Gen 2. Gen 2 is basically a localized expansion of day six in Gen 1. That also means the seventh day would come after the events of Gen 2.
To some extent, Gen 2 is a microcosm of Gen 1. God plants a garden. God makes plants and animals for the garden. You'd show the same type of process you did in general creation week.
ix) You could depict Eden as a river valley or river plain. It would be sheltered by steep hills on either side. There'd be verdant foliage on the river banks.
x) In view of various angelophanies in Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, it would be logical to depict the Creator in 2:7 as the Angel of the Lord. Adam might materialize as the theophanic angel passed his hand over the ground. Dust particles rising from the ground and arranging themselves a body–like a sand man. He'd animate Adam the way Jesus breathed on the disciples (Jn 20:22).
Likewise, he'd take flesh from Adam and reconfigure that into Eve. We have other examples of metamorphosis in the Pentateuch, like Aaron's budding rod.
xi) Day 7 would show the completed creation.
xii) As I've discussed before, the name for the tempter in Gen 3 is probably a pun. The word can mean "snake," "diviner," or "shining one." Based on the varied connotations of the word, as well as Pentateuchal angelophanies, I think the tempter is a fallen angel.
That would also explain why Adam and Eve aren't surprised by this visitor. They are used to angels.
xiii) Let's shift to Exodus. If you were a director, how would you depict the "burning bush" episode? In context, I think the "burning bush" is an observational description of how it appeared to Moses at a distance (presumably at night). But I doubt the bush itself was on fire.
Rather, the luminosity came from the angel, inside or behind the bush. From a distance, it looked like a bush was on fire, but as Moses drew closer, it becomes evident that the angel is the light source. You see the fire through the bush. Like a candle in a jack-o'-lantern. The bush is not consumed because it's not physical firelight. Rather, it's a radiant angel.
In Scripture, angels can take on different aspects. Sometimes they look like ordinary men. Sometimes they are luminous. And in the case of the seraphim/cherubim, they have inhuman features. You also have the cherubic "flaming sword" in Gen 3:24. Exod 3:2-3 is a fire theophany or fire angelophany.
This also relates to the "pillar of smoke and fire" in the desert. It's like a preternatural firenado. A natural firenado is an ephemeral, directionless physical phenomenon. But the pillar of fire is stable and directional. That's probably an accurate way of showing the pillar of cloud and fire.
In theology, there's a technical distinction between natural, preternatural, and supernatural. A preternatural phenomenon is natural insofar as it employs a physical medium, but it's unnatural or supernatural insofar as it is miraculous.
xiv) To take a few more examples, if you were filming Balaam's donkey, what would you show? Recent cinematic adaptions of The Chronicles of Narnia have shown how CGI can depict talking animals. Another possibility is telepathic communication, although that would be auditory rather than visual.
But as I've recently discussed, given the fact that Balaam was a seer, this may have been a vision.
xv) What about Joshua's Long Day? Due to the poetic nature of the description, it's hard to pin down the precise cause. The main thing is to depict the physical effect of Joshua's Long Day. An analogy would be the miracle of the "sun dial" (a la Ahaz, Isaiah).
xvi) To take a final example, what about Lot's wife? Consider the pyroclastic flow that instantly fossilized the victims of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
xvii) In filming the flood, you'd have to decide whether to depict a global or local flood. If global, you'd show rising seas. Coastal flooding, which continues to moving inland and upland to overtake the hills until the mountains are submerged.
If a local flood, you could depict torrential rain downing trees. Rivers become clogged with debris, causing them to back up–submerging a huge floodplain. Yes, water can move upstream if it has no outlet.