Starting soon- and again, as each segment concludes I’ll post updates during the commercial breaks. Once again I’m looking for balanced presentation, scholarship (i.e., actual scholars and not just guys who have written books completely outside their field- yes, I’m looking at you Aslan), and intelligible delivery. We shall see if they are all included in just a few minutes.
Segment One– ‘Are there chapters in the Bible that are missing’? That statement, which opens the segment, makes no sense. If they were in the bible they wouldn’t be missing. And the question of forbidden books and canon is not the question of the canon at all but the question of orthodoxy v. heterodoxy. Mr. Doom is once more narrating and the tone is conspiratorial.
The Protestant Bible compared with the Catholic and the Orthodox Ethiopian raises the question of which canon is correct. Fair enough. Books were included and excluded on the basis of their use in communities (and so in a sense on the basis of their backers or non backers). Unfortunately the best study on the issue, ‘Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity’ by Bauer is not so much as mentioned. The Book of Enoch, however, is. And the popularity of Enoch in Judaism and early Christianity is rightly discussed.
Kathleen McGowan appears, but I don’t know what purpose her appearing serves except to be the female equivalent of Aslan. She is the sensationalizer.
Francesca S. finally appears- and does well. Aslan appears again and can’t even pronounce the word ‘nephilim’ correctly… Bart Ehrman should have given him diction lessons, because Bart gets it right.
Segment Two– Nag Hammadi. So it’s on to the gnostic texts. No surprise there at all. Any discussion of the ‘hidden’ books of the Bible has to discuss the gnostic texts. McGowan’s lack of historical insight is appalling. ‘Jesus is the one who teaches us that we don’t need priests, we don’t need churches’. Complete nonsense.
Goodacre appears and so does, unsurprisingly, the modern gnostic/mystic, Elaine Pagels. Cargill continues to do a good job of summarizing the main points of various issues.
Athanasius’ letter of legitimization is brought up and the condemnation of the gnostic texts is described. What’s so dangerous, Mr Doom, asks, about the gnostic texts. What do they tell us about Jesus’ ‘lost’ years? Were the gnostic gospels ‘subversive’. No, Mr Doom, they’re just silly. They weren’t adopted by the church and they aren’t treasured as scripture even know they’ve been known for a very long time because they’re just ridiculous.
It’s a shame that the predicted balance which the narrator implied at the beginning of the episode, and every episode, hasn’t manifested itself. There is no orthodox Christian voice on the gnostic texts.
Next up, speaking of ridiculous, the whole ‘Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ thing…
Segment Three– The ‘Gospel of Mary Magdalene’ is front and center. McGowan’s ‘2000 years of church history is overturned by the Gospel of Mary’ is beyond ridiculous. Were the ‘lost gospels’ kept out because the early church had a pro male and anti female agenda? No- don’t be absurd. Paul says that in Christ, there is neither male nor female, bond nor free, Jew or gentile. The suggestion that the church was anti-woman is historically senseless.
A special on the Bible which is doing its best to avoid the biblical text is problematic. Why haven’t any of the presenters mentioned Paul’s remarks? Why haven’t texts from the Bible which speak to these issues been discussed? Is there an agenda in the program itself and its producers which seeks to portray Christianity a certain way whilst Christianity has raised its voice on these issues and is being silenced by the program?
Maybe the real conspiracy here isn’t by the Church, it’s by the History Channel.
Segment Four– ‘The Life of Adam and Eve’. Why isn’t it in the Bible? Because it’s silly. McGowan’s ‘it intimidated the Church’ is once more just absurd. From there we jump to Kuntillet Ajrud and the ‘Yahweh and his Asherah’ material. Francesca and Bob do nice work with the ‘Yahweh may have been viewed as having a wife’ bit. This should surprise no one, since popular religion and the religion of the elite there is often a very wide gap.
And so we return to the gnostics, who have a mother-father god. So was the Bible edited to suppress the female aspects of God? Next up, the gnostic Peter stuff.
Segment Five– The ‘apocalypse’ as genre is discussed. The majority of books of that genre were left out of the New Testament. Most interesting is that of Peter, who describes the torments of hell. Now, friends, there’s a fun book for you!
Summary– Cargill and Goodacre and Ehrman and Stravakapolou do very well and the rest simply should have been left out. Especially McGowan who belongs as little to a scholarly discussion of the Bible as does Aslan. Indeed, she must have been included just to highlight the ineptitude of various authors. Just because someone has a book on an aspect of religion doesn’t qualify them to appear as a talking head on a special on the Bible. That is the message of McGowan’s inclusion.
Here’s the bottom line- books not included in the Bible aren’t ignored because they are subversive: they’re excluded because they are just, at the end of the day, deemed unimportant or simply wrong. There are, all should be willing to honestly admit, books written that are garbage. The Church deemed the books it left aside unworthy of spiritual use.
Deal with it, but don’t make accusations of conspiracy just because some obscure book referenced by some weird ‘scholar’ tells you that such and such a book has secrets to reveal that will change history. That, at this point, is the greatest absurdity of all.
- Live Blogging Episode Two of ‘Bible Secrets Revealed’ (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- Live Blogging ‘Bible Secrets Revealed’ (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)