Part 1 of Bible Secrets Revealed aired on The History Channel Wednesday after being moved from Monday. Apparently, the next 5 episodes will also run on Wednesdays instead of Mondays. You can watch the full length video above in case you missed it. You can also ask the producers a question directly HERE if you’re so inclined.
Something I find interesting is the strange silence from conservative scholars. Most Christians are probably waiting for fiery rebuttals against these Atheists and Agnostics by conservatives. Except, no fiery rebuttals can be put forth. Why? Because nothing in the series was factual false. Everything talked about in this episode has been widely known throughout the academic circles by both liberal and conservative scholars alike for a very long time. The only people who are unaware of them are Christians.
Some points made in the episode:
Were the first 5 books of the Bible (the Torah) dictated by God to Moses? Well Probably, but is the Torah (the first 5 books) we have today the original written by Moses? We don’t know. Deut 4–26 says Moses gave the Law to the Levites to put in the side of the Ark. In the days of Josiah, Hilkiah found the ‘book of the Law’ which had apparently been forgotten for decades. Josiah’s sweeping reforms included the reading of the ‘the book of the Law’ and destruction of alters to foreign gods. Just because the ‘book of the Law’ had been lost for a while doesn’t mean that since the time of Josiah it was kept in tact. It’s also possible changes were made in the copying process. I suppose we’ll never know unless the Ark is found with the ‘book of the Law’ in it. None of this was covered in the series.
Were the authors of the NT eyewitnesses? No. Almost all scholars agree these accounts were written decades later by writers highly educated in the Greek language. The author of John ends his book by admitting that these things (in his book) were written so “you would believe”. So, he was hardly an objective writer. Paul, whose letters are the core of Christianity, never met Jesus or heard personally what he taught. He claims Jesus came to him in a vision, and all of his letters are mostly diatribes against the Torah and those who follow it. What does the Torah say about someone who claims to have had a vision enticing people away from the Torah?
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known,
That prophet, or dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death. It’s interesting the Church maintains all the apostles (except maybe John?) and Paul were ‘put to death’. The question that should be asked then is: if the message they were preaching was of God, why did He allow all of them to be put to death, the city completely destroyed, and the people scattered throughout the empire and taken as slaves? Has anyone ever considered that maybe the reason Jerusalem got destroyed was not only the infighting going on at the time by different Jewish factions, but because of Paul’s message? The penalty for worshiping other gods was exile – and that’s exactly what happened.
The fact is there has not been a single fragment of text from that period written in Aramaic or Hebrew found to date. Common sense tells us Jesus and his disciples spoke their native language. If they wrote anything it would have been in their own languages. But, every manuscript found is written in Greek by highly educated non-Jewish writers decades after the fact – not poor Judeans who spoke Aramaic/Hebrew. Papias, Ireneus, Origen, and Eusebius all admit the gospel of Matthew was first transcribed in Hebrew. Where is it? It apparently doesn’t match the book we have today because these same Church fathers called the Jews who used that book heretics. Why? Because they did not believe Jesus was divine.
Not only did they not believe Jesus was divine, they revered James above Paul, who they considered a heretic and an apostate. How convenient for the Church, whose message is the complete opposite and who reveres Paul over James, that these earliest Jewish groups along with their books and writings have been lost.
Little information exists on the Ebionites, and the surviving accounts are subject to considerable debate, since they are uniformly derived from the Ebionites’ opponents. The first mention of the sect is in the works of the Christian theologian St. Irenaeus, notably in his Adversus haereses (Against Heresies; c. 180); other sources include the writings of Origen and St. Epiphanius of Constantia. The Ebionite movement may have arisen about the time of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (ad 70). Its members evidently left Palestine to avoid persecution and settled in Transjordan (notably at Pella) and Syria and were later known to be in Asia Minor and Egypt. The sect seems to have existed into the 4th century.
Most of the features of Ebionite doctrine were anticipated in the teachings of the earlier Qumrān sect, as revealed in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They believed in one God and taught that Jesus was the Messiah and was the true “prophet” mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:15. They rejected the Virgin Birth of Jesus, instead holding that he was the natural son of Joseph and Mary. The Ebionites believed Jesus became the Messiah because he obeyed the Jewish Law. They themselves faithfully followed the Law, although they removed what they regarded as interpolations in order to uphold their teachings, which included vegetarianism, holy poverty, ritual ablutions, and the rejection of animal sacrifices. The Ebionites also held Jerusalem in great veneration.
The early Ebionite literature is said to have resembled the Gospel According to Matthew, without the birth narrative. Evidently, they later found this unsatisfactory and developed their own literature—the Gospel of the Ebionites—although none of this text has survived.
– Encyclopedia Britannica
Why didn’t the Jewish followers of Jesus believe in the virgin birth story? Because it was pagan to the core. It was the same story of every pagan god known to them. The Romans easily accepted it because it was very common to them. I don’t think this episode did a good job on this particular subject. They only brought out the mistranslation of the word “almah”. The real error in the supposed prediction of a virgin birth to a Messiah is that Isaiah is not predicting a birth 700+ years later. He is giving a sign to King Ahaz about the destruction of his enemies. The sign is not the birth of the child at all – whether by a virgin or not. The sign is that by the time that child is old enough to know good from bad Ahaz’s enemies will be destroyed. How could the birth of Jesus 700 years later be a sign to King Ahaz? Did that mean that his enemies wouldn’t be destroyed until Jesus was around 12 to 13? What kind of sign is that?
Most Christians are unaware that the earliest copies of Mark end at 16:8, and if you read the entire chapter the transition between v8 and v9 is very awkward. Some say the last page was lost because it fell off. But, it’s more likely that the original ending, whether it really ended at v8 or had another ending, was not in agreement with the theology these writers were creating.
I liked the segments about the persecution against ‘heretics’ by the Roman Church. Most people forget the brutal domination the Church held over the people for hundreds of years. No one was allowed to even read the Bible and if their beliefs strayed from what the Church taught they were killed. What makes us think they were honest enough to preserve any early writings that didn’t agree with their political agenda of complete domination?
One thing the episode brought out that I had never thought of was: why did the early pilgrims insist on keeping the King James translation of the Bible? They were fleeing that whole system of Church and State, yet they kept his Bible. That’s very interesting to me. Certainly there were other translations used, like the Geneva Bible. But, the KJV has been the staple of American Christianity since the beginning. Didn’t anyone say “Hey, this King James fellow may have been a little bias in his translation”.
All in all, I thought this episode was pretty good. I think much more elaboration should have been given on some of the points instead of just saying it in passing. Nothing really ‘secret’ was revealed though, because most of what was said is common knowledge in biblical scholarship circles. The only people unaware of it are those who don’t research it.