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Who Wrote the Bible? (2004)

Who actually wrote the book that millions of people describe as the word of God? Christian theologian Robert Beckford sets off on a voyage of historical discovery through Genesis and beyond to uncover the Bible's complex origins.


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Credited cast:
Robert Beckford Robert Beckford ... Self - Presenter
Janet Dibley Janet Dibley ... Bible Readings (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Edward Adams Edward Adams ... Self
Paul Bruce Paul Bruce ... Self
Israel Finkelstein Israel Finkelstein ... Self
Menachem Freed Menachem Freed ... Self
Mark Goodacre ... Self
Peter Head Peter Head ... Self
Simcha Hochbaum Simcha Hochbaum ... Self (as Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum)
Nuha Khoury Nuha Khoury ... Self
Karen King Karen King ... Self
Israel Knohl Israel Knohl ... Self
Richard Land Richard Land ... Self
Alister McGrath Alister McGrath ... Self
Jill Middlemas Jill Middlemas ... Self


Who actually wrote the book that millions of people describe as the word of God? Christian theologian Robert Beckford sets off on a voyage of historical discovery through Genesis and beyond to uncover the Bible's complex origins.

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Did You Know?


Robert Beckford - Presenter: I'm sure without the influence of these Biblical morality tales I would have fallen prey to temptations such as drug abuse and babyfathering.
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User Reviews

Fills in a few holes
22 November 2009 | by TabarnoucheSee all my reviews

This 100+-minute documentary represents a quest by British theological scholar Robert Beckford to put the derivation and composition of the Bible into perspective for viewers of this Channel 4 (UK) presentation. He seeks to answer questions about how the books of the Bible were written, by whom, in what social and political context, and in what sequence. To what extent were they historically accurate? Were historical discrepancies material to their credibility and to Judeo-Christian traditions? Naturally, he starts with the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), all of which were supposedly written by Moses.

His coverage of the remaining books in the OT is less exhaustive, but he examines the four Gospels as closely as he does the Pentateuch. His comments on Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul (who wrote the bulk of the NT), highlight the issues and ambiguities surrounding the rise of early Christianity.

Beckford visits the Holy Land, Europe, the UK, and the USA in order to situate ancient Biblical sites, temples, churches, and museums, where he interviews Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scholars, believers, and practitioners. His style is infectiously engaging (indeed, distractingly impassioned at times), and his commentary nuanced and articulate. He is, for the most part, a pleasure to listen to.

But depictions of Beckford's comings and goings became tedious about mid-way through the film. Endlessly recurring shots of Beckford in cars, trucks, planes, and afoot — transporting himself from one backdrop locale to another, presumably to emphasize to what lengths he had gone to conduct his research first-hand — wound up calling more attention to the huge carbon footprint he was leaving than to his assiduity. Though he seldom revealed how much he himself took Biblical narrative to heart, he did steer suspiciously clear of scripture alluding to the exceptional warmth of Carbon-Emitters' Hell.

Of necessity, too, given the visual format and the imperatives of television, he could not go into as much depth as one might have wished (e.g., the development of the King James Bible). Doubtless he was entirely capable of doing so.

Still, because the Bible is so central to world culture, for non-scholars who are curious about the Bible as historical or literary artifact, or those here below who merely seek a more complete overview, this documentary is worth the investment of time. The interviews themselves are well structured and tightly edited. Viewers leave it with greater awareness of Biblical chronology and controversies — if not with as many crisp, definitive answers as the opening sequences lead them to expect.

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Channel 4 [UK]





Release Date:

25 December 2004 (UK) See more »

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Diverse Productions See more »
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