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Bible Secrets Revealed? A Response to the New History Channel Series
by Michael Kruger
Now, let me say that I really do enjoy documentaries on the Bible. They are usually done with very high quality, contain interviews of some of the world’s top scholars, and often raising intriguing and important questions. But, there are also dangers. Such documentaries run the risk of being overly sensationalistic, one-sided, and ultimately misleading.
Unfortunately, this new documentary from the History Channel tends to falter at precisely these points. While there are many positives–great production quality and intriguing content–this documentary quickly spins itself into some problem areas.
Thus, I am starting a new series here on my blog where I will review each new episode of Bible Secrets Revealed as it comes out. In regard to the first episode, Lost in Transmission, it is marked by the following characteristics.
1. Sensationalistic. Everybody loves a good conspiracy. It is built-in to the human (and particularly American) psyche. We love the idea that the truth has been suppressed for generations only to now be uncovered.
Unfortunately, the title of this new series feeds this conspiracy craving in all of us, and gives a sensationalistic feel to the whole enterprise. Bible Secrets Revealed. Really? This title implies that secrets have been kept from an unsuspecting public for two millennia (presumably by the church or other Christian leaders), only now to be graciously exposed by these noble scholars. Conclusion: you can trust secular scholars but not the church (or the Bible).
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The sensationalism continues with overstated claims about the issues being “revealed” in this documentary. The narrator claims (with dramatic music in the background):
Now for the first time, an extraordinary series will challenge everything we think, everything we know, and everything we believe about the Bible.
To be sure, this documentary is decidedly not doing anything “for the first time,” but I suppose such claims are part of how such documentaries are promoted and sold. Moreover, it should be noted that when it says it will challenge what “we” believe about the Bible, what it really means it will challenge what evangelicals believe about the Bible. No liberal views are being challenged in this series (at least so far). Which leads to the next observation…