The Everett Collection

Low-budget Moses. Burt Lancaster played Moses in the TV mini-series Moses, the Lawgiver in 1975, when rising production costs and decreasing audiences had moved the retellings of biblical stories to television.

Like the DeMille films, Moses, the Lawgiver explored questions of morality, but its creators were more ambivalent than DeMille about the origins of the Law. They implied that humans had some influence on the creation of “divine” laws and that the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy were not simply handed down from on high. They also portrayed the brutal results of the strict enforcement of Mosaic Law: Capital punishment by stoning is shown in shocking detail, and the Hebrews who worshiped the golden calf are punished through mass executions, not by the heavens.