Nova: Season 36, Episode 6

The Bible's Buried Secrets (18 Nov. 2008)

TV Episode  -  Documentary | Biography
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 42 users  
Reviews: 5 user

A powerful partnership between science and scholarship breaks exciting new ground in investigating the origins of the ancient Israelites, their faith in a single, omnipotent God and the creation of the Bible.

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Title: The Bible's Buried Secrets (18 Nov 2008)

The Bible's Buried Secrets (18 Nov 2008) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Episode credited cast:
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Himself - Narrator (voice)
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(voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gabriel Barkay ...
Himself - Bar-Ilan University
Amnon Ben Tor ...
Himself - Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Manfred Bietak ...
Himself - Austrian Academy of Sciences
Joan R. Branham ...
Herself - Providence College
Thomas Cahill ...
Himself - Author
Itshak Cohen
Michael Coogan ...
Himself - Stonehill College
Gila Cook ...
Herself - Hebrew University of Jerusalem
William G. Dever ...
Himself - University of Arizona
Abu Elias
Rani Espanioly
Israel Finkelstein ...
Himself - Tel Aviv University
Ali Gamal
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A powerful partnership between science and scholarship breaks exciting new ground in investigating the origins of the ancient Israelites, their faith in a single, omnipotent God and the creation of the Bible.

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18 November 2008 (USA)  »

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Remade as Bible's Buried Secrets (2011) See more »

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Very interesting but left me wanting more
6 April 2011 | by (Chicago, Illinois, USA) – See all my reviews

I must disagree with the above reviewer who claimed this program was "not fair or factual." She offered no specific objections to back up this claim. To refute the interviews with numerous internationally-respected archaeologists and dating scientists she offered only one name: a "PhD scientist" (not in archaeology) who has long been associated with organizations whose scientific credentials have long been discredited such as the Institute for Creation Research.

In short: The words "fair" and "factual" do not mean the same thing as "doesn't challenge my pre-existing opinions."

I must also (respectfully this time) disagree with the reviewer who claimed that the program was "not at all science". Nova has a long tradition of featuring "softer" sciences such as archaeology and psychology - it has never been limited to just physics or biology. Archeologists do use Biblical traditions and texts as guides to the possible cultural context of this ancient society, just as they would when studying any ancient society with such long-preserved texts. This does not make them ethnocentric. Nor does it invalidate their research, so long as the archaeologists remember to use them only as possible guides, not evidence. As for the alleged misstatement of facts, the reviewer did not offer specific examples and I was unable to spot any myself.

The program was not perfect - there were some points, in the beginning, during which some nuance was lost, namely, the difference between showing the possibility that an event could have taken place vs. proving that the event actually did happen. The program did not claim the two were the same, but a less-than careful listener might be left with that impression. Additionally, during the introduction, which spent a chunk of time explaining what made the Israelites culturally significant to world history, the program felt a little more reflective and less detached than is typical for Nova. And the soundtrack did get a little heavy-handed at times.

However, the program really hit its stride once it arrived at its first main theme, namely, the emergence of Israelite society in contrast to the wealthier Cananite one. This was Nova at its best: examining new data discovered by rigorous methods and explaining its impact on a larger theory or discipline. Here, they took new information discovered by archeology and showed how it has enriched our historical understanding of an ancient culture.

The program lost some steam in its second half - unlike in the first half, it did not really build towards a single conclusion. Instead it reviewed a number of different archaeological finds that supported or clarified the current historical understanding of Israelite society over the course of the first millennium BCE until the end of the Babylonian exile. Nevertheless, overall it was a very good viewing experience about a very interesting topic.


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