It’s Time For Time to Shut Down

They’ve lost the plot and jumped the shark.


True Words…


Jesus The Cold Case

I took a look at another of the ‘Jesus’ film genre and in a nutshell, this particular production is both better than most and as bad as many.  Allow me to explain:

First, there are egregious blunders.  At one point the presenter states that Luke’s gospel contains the story of the wise men and the star pointing the way to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem.  That ridiculous mis-statement, innocent a mistake as it may have been, made me cringe.  It bothers me tremendously when the little yet important facts are wrongly stated.  Indeed, when people say things like that it’s nearly unbearable.

Second, there must be a dearth of biblical scholars in Australia because the only one he found down there tends to be extremely skeptical of anything the Gospels say.  Ok, skepticism is fine.  But at least have someone else offer a perspective – otherwise the program just comes off as an exercise in ax grinding.


Third, the presenter claims that the Gospels are not eyewitness testimony (he’s a cold case investigator, not a biblical scholar) – but he should have had a chat, at least, with Richard Bauckham on the matter.  Right or wrong, Bauckham has to be consulted.

Fourth, when the presenter repeatedly refers to ‘the Jesus myth’ one needs to understand that this is a fair representation of his personal viewpoint.  He seems to fit nicely into the ‘Mythicist’ camp or as near to it as one can without being one.  Unsurprisingly, his conclusions support his presuppositions.  Indeed, the fact that Spong makes an appearance as a ‘biblical expert’ calls the entire enterprise into question.



There are just so many problems, throughout.  Note, as another example, the spelling on the map of Qumran.  I’ve read a lot of material on the subject.  Thousands and thousands, probably tens of thousands of pages over the span of years, and I’ve never seen anyone spell it like this.


Nonetheless there are a few highlights:

Joe Zias makes an appearance and makes some very important remarks regarding crucifixion.  It is also claimed by the presenter that Jesus may have been crucified not on a cross, but on one of the many olive trees in the area.


Ok, that’s pretty much it.

Whereas many specials tend to be absurd and support absurd claims (like the shroud of Turin and Jesus was married and all that rot) this one heads in the opposite direction and because of its mythicist leanings results in the same level of absurdity.  The highlight is Joe Zias and this chap, who discussed the average 1st century Jewish male and stated that the image of Jesus on our left is the least likely of all the representations while the one on the right is the most likely.


There are a good number of well known academics who appear but they don’t do a very good job of presenting the facts fairly.  That is true even of Dom Crossan, who is edited in such a way as to seem to support the producer’s ‘the gospels don’t contain any truth’ line of thought.


It really is a shame that the producer went the direction he did.  This could have been a fantastic documentary given the resources the film maker obviously had access to.  Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it turns out that it’s pretty much like all the rest.  Skip it unless you want to see Zias shine.

CNN… #Fail

CNN is not really all that good with the facts.  Any facts.  About anything…

cnnvia ‘You Had One Job’


In Which Isaiah Foretells Today’s Average Pastor…

Alright, to be accurate he’s describing the prophets of his own day.  But I really see no reason to say that his remarks no longer apply to many who are supposed to proclaim the will of the Lord:

Its [i.e., Jerusalem’s] watchmen are all blind, they know nothing. Dumb watchdogs all, unable to bark, they dream, lie down, and love to sleep. Greedy dogs, never satisfied, such are the shepherds, who understand nothing; they all go their own way, each to the last man after his own interest. ‘Come, let me fetch wine; we will get drunk on strong drink, tomorrow will be just as wonderful as today and even more so!’  (Isa 56:10-12 NJB)

Yessir- that nicely describes too many Pastors today.  Especially the first ‘they know nothing’ bit- since so many would rather get their sermons, on Saturday night, from a book of sermons instead of doing their own hard exegetical work.  Such lameness really does give us a hint as to why tv specials about the Bible are equally lame and why people who profess faith know so little about Scripture and so are glad to lap up gallons of Downey Burnett.

On NBC Nightly News Tonight…

You can have the privilege of watching Nicola Denzey Lewis talk about the recent flurry of news about the so called ‘James Ossuary’ and hear her take on the topic.  I’m keen to hear her.  I’ve recently become a fan of her measured and articulate scholarship.  I like her.  She’s sharp.

Liveblogging By DVR The Last Installment of ‘Finding Jesus’

The last episode is tonight at 9 but I’ll not be live blogging it till tomorrow.  The episode is about Mary Magdalene.  Since the Magdalenian is only mentioned a couple of times and only in the Gospels and only as one of Jesus numerous followers I’m a priori skeptical that we will learn much.  Instead, my suspicion is that we will get a lot of the Da Vinci code rubbish encrusted with a gem or two of scholarship wrapped in a thick layer of speculative manure.

But who knows, I may be surprised.  When I know, you’ll know.  In the meantime- here are all the mentions of Mary in the New Testament:

  • (Matthew 27:56) ἐν αἷς ἦν Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσὴφ μήτηρ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ τῶν υἱῶν Ζεβεδαίου.
  • (Mark 15:40) Ἦσαν δὲ καὶ γυναῖκες ἀπὸ μακρόθεν θεωροῦσαι, ἐν αἷς καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Ἰακώβου τοῦ μικροῦ καὶ Ἰωσῆτος μήτηρ καὶ Σαλώμη,
  • (Mark 15:47) ἡ δὲ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Ἰωσῆτος ἐθεώρουν ποῦ τέθειται.
  • (Mark 16:1) Καὶ διαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ καὶ Μαρία ἡ [τοῦ] Ἰακώβου καὶ Σαλώμη ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα ἵνα ἐλθοῦσαι ἀλείψωσιν αὐτόν.
  • (John 19:25) Εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή.
  • (John 20:1) Τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ ἔρχεται πρωῒ σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον καὶ βλέπει τὸν λίθον ἠρμένον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου.

How an hour special can be produced from such scant material… it’s the miracle of ‘Bible TV’.

A Jesus Film Worth Seeing. Yeah, No Kidding

44649_310x459Even Joe Zias thinks it’s good.

AFTA Award for Best Documentary 2012, Winner Silver and Bronze Medals at The New York Festivals International Film and Television Awards.

In his native New Zealand Bryan Bruce writes, directs and hosts the internationally successful crime show THE INVESTIGATOR in which he re- examines unsolved crimes In 2010 he decided to apply his criminal investigative methods to the ultimate cold case :

Who Killed Jesus and Why?

In an investigation that ranges across three continents, Bruce sets out to discover who Jesus was and what he did that resulted in his death on a Roman cross. The impressive list of scholars he consults includes:

Emeritus Prof. Geza Vermes (Oxford)
Emeritus Prof John Dominic Crossan ( St Pauls)
Prof. Elaine Paigels (Princeton)
Bishop John Shelby- Spong (USA)
Prof. Lloyd Geering (New Zealand)
Dr Helen Bond ( Edinburgh)
Prof . Israel Herschkovitz (Tel Aviv)
Dr Shimon Gibson (London )

The 90 minute HD documentary was filmed in Israel, Palestine Italy , France, Germany, Great Britain , USA , Poland and New Zealand

Spong’s not a scholar but the rest are pretty sharp.  Mostly.  Most of the time.

Larry Hurtado’s Thoughts on the Absurd “Mysteries of the Bible”

Hurtado writes

Last Friday evening here in the UK the TV programme, “Mysteries of the Bible–Jesus” showed (Channel 5, 9 pm), and already I’ve had one commenter asking why I allowed myself to be included in the programme.  So, a few comments are in order.

Good question.  Why?  Why do scholars take part in these things when, they have to know, the show will invariably be crap?

First, when you’re approached by researchers for such a TV programme (at least in my experience), you’re not usually told the larger storyline or sweep of the programme.  They simply say they have some particular questions that they’d like to interview you about. So, you can deal with those questions but never know in advance where the rest of the programme is going, or even if they’ll use all or any of your own interview.  I, therefore, have no responsibility for this or other programmes for which I’ve been interviewed.

Well then why not ask?  Why not require that you be allowed to see the final product before you agree to take part?

But let me now turn to some matters that made me feel glad not to be responsible for the programme.  First, why did they devote such a large amount of the programme to the absurd notion that Jesus as a young man travelled to England, where he learned stuff from the “Druids”?  No scholar takes any such notion as credible in the slightest.  I guess the producers thought it would add what they regarded as something sensational.  To their credit, they did allow a couple of scholars to debunk the claim.  But we didn’t need the length of time given to the loony notion.

And more.  Why do scholars take part in such things?  To be concise, they either do it because they want the facts to be out in the public; or they do it because they want to be on tv.  If the former is their reason I applaud them.  If the latter, I refuse to because they will tolerate any misrepresentation of the facts just as long as they get face time.

Scholars, as I said above and before many times, should REQUIRE tv producers to allow them to see the finished product before they put their face, and reputation, on it.

“The True Cross” – A Review of Finding Jesus

Segment One – “I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that Helena discovered the True Cross” – Candida Moss.  Amen and amen.  All the rest is just window dressing.  “According to Church tradition…’ intones our narrator and then commences the Helena story.  Oh look, it’s John Calvin- being cited by Mark Goodacre and Nicola Denzey Lewis, who said there were enough bits of the cross to fill a ship.  And then some lad says that LeFleur added up all the bits known in the 19th century and there weren’t a 10th enough to make something the size of the cross so, says the lad, Calvin must have been wrong…  (because we all know that what you can find in the 19th century must be what could have been found in the 16th)…

Segment Two –  Helena and Constantine and the twisted tale of Constantine’s family is related.  Helena appears to have gone on pilgrimage to do something to help rescue Constantine’s murderous soul.

Segment Three – ‘According to Christian tradition…’ we’re told once again.  Legends and traditions are the stuff and substance of the tale told here of Helena’s ‘discovery’ of the True Cross.

Segment Four – Helena has the Cross cut up and distributed around the Roman world.  And that’s when pieces start showing up.  So we’re back to Kazan (the lad who thinks Calvin was wrong because a 19th century fellow could locate only a few bits of it).  Goodacre suggests that Helena’s distribution of the True Cross transformed it from a symbol of death to a symbol of power.  Kazan and Higham will test the Waterford Cross.

Segment Five – The fragment of the True Cross from Waterford is to be sampled and Helena is discussed again- as the builder of Churches and buildings.  “She makes the holy land holy” – Moss.

Segment Six – We finally arrive at the c14 dating of the Waterford fragment (it having been discussed for the previous two).  It’s quite the cliff-hanger… what will they find?  Whatever they find, it will not matter to those who believe in the ongoing existence of the cross.  If it’s dated later than the 1st century they will simply say ‘oh well, that doesn’t prove all the rest are late’ and we shall be back to square one.  So, what did they discover?  A piece of wood from 1100 a.d.   Aww shucks…  Who could have guessed…

Next week- Mary Magdalene (because what better to air on Easter than the most imaginative of all the aspects of modern Jesus research?)


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