The Bible is one of the most influential and important books ever written and is considered by millions around the world to be the actual word of God. But has the Bible been translated so many times ...
It is considered the most sacred place on Earth. But it has also been carved up, sub-divided and fought over for thousands of years. Was the area known as "The Promised Land" really given by God to a...
Believe it or not God may have inspired the Bible, but man's fingerprints are all over it
In this documentary, the narrator does say "believe it or not" more than once—and the rest of the title above more than once, but I doubt that anyone who made this series really believes that the Bible was inspired by God. No apologists for orthodox Christianity were seriously consulted in the making of this series. They shouldn't have to be, but even though I agree with the program's skepticism, I noticed that an entire POV on this subject was glaringly missing.
This program interested me because this is a topic I have studied, but I found the whole approach of the series rather Gee Whiz and often misleadingly truncated. For example, it is not just that a Gnostic gospel having Jesus separated into two during the crucifixion is trying to tell us to focus less on the crucifixion itself; it goes deeper and into more complex areas than that suggests. It entirely denies the significance of Jesus' suffering as understood by orthodox Christianity. Docetism is the heresy of saying that Jesus was not fully human AND fully God but rather he was a man inhabited by God and therefore the two are separable. This was not explained even though some of the talking heads recruited for this show (e.g., Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman) could have talked authoritatively about this kind of issue. What "Gnostic" means—and who was and wasn't Gnostic—is also more complicated than this series conveys. Instead, the series goes for the quick and sensational story line.
Other issues looked as if they were about to be given similar short shrift but were not—almost. The issue of what Jesus and his contemporaries meant by the term "messiah"—and what they expected the messiah to be like—was at first introduced as if the term was synonymous with "son of God" in the sense that it is usually understood in orthodox Christianity, but, subsequently, the subject was discussed—if not fully—at least enough to indicate that it is more complicated than that. Indeed, if the viewer pays attention, the series does make it clear that Jesus' own words are not always clear as to what he thought of himself. His actions, if New Testament accounts are even remotely accurate, might speak louder than words, but the series fails to point out that, for example, Jesus' driving the money-changers from the Temple, is given more weight as a sign of messiah-ship and as a reason for his crucifixion in Matthew, Mark and Luke than in John where the raising of Lazarus is emphasized. The choice of people to be talking heads for this series is mixed at best. Elaine Pagels and Bart Ehrman are bona fide experts in this field, but while I know less about the qualifications of most of the others, I know that Reza Aslan, the author of "Zealot," wrote in his book that "gospel" is a Greek word (it is Old English). The mistakes and misrepresentations in his work keep coming after that. Fortunately, his thesis that Jesus advocated violent political revolution, in spite of evidence to the contrary, is not adopted by the series.
BTW, the series DOES point out that Asherah, the Queen of Heaven, was later regarded as a pagan goddess, but it maintains that ORIGINALLY she was not separate from the worship of Yahweh.
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