Introduction: On Wednesday December 4, 2013 the History Channel aired its fourth episode in its series entitled: “Bible Secrets Revealed”. The reader is invited to reader another current series of blogs on discovering the identity of Jesus at: http://pastormahlon.blogspot.com/2013/12/p2-discovering-identity-of-jesus-how.html. The past blog posts that have evaluated and critiqued the past three episodes of the series will be listed at the end of today’s blogpost for the reader’s reference. In the fourth episode the slate of radical critics took aim at the New Testament’s portrayal of Jesus Christ as depicted in the four Canonical Gospels. In watching the episode five discernible segments were featured:
Jesus’ birth and early life Beginnings of Jesus’ ministry The overall identity and purpose of Jesus’s life The trial and crucifixion of Jesus Jesus’ resurrection
Once again we are told that the four Gospels of the New Testament are either in error or reinterpretations of Jesus’ life by his followers and instead we should consider the testimony of the Gnostic Gospels as material for filling in the gaps. In this post the aim is to take each of the five segments and answer or critique each major point brought out in episode 4 of “Bible Secrets Revealed”. My hope is that these blog posts equip readers and set the record straight in contrast to the persistent errors being promoted by the “Bible Secrets Revealed” panel of radical, critical scholars. In yesterday’s post we evaluated how the episode handled Jesus’ birth and early life. Today we will consider how they mishandle the remaining four areas of Jesus life and mission: 1. Beginnings of Jesus’ ministry 2. The overall identity and purpose of Jesus’s life 3. The trial and crucifixion of Jesus 4. Jesus’ resurrection
1. How Episode 4 of “Bible Secrets Revealed” mishandles the beginnings of Jesus’ life and ministry
a. The second segment of the episode spends time trying to build the case that John the Baptist’s death is what triggered the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The first mistake made by the “experts” has to do with their reconstruction of events. The problem with the reconstructed proposal of the panel of “experts” is that Jesus’ ministry was well underway by the time John the Baptist had been beheaded.
Secondly, “Bible Secrets Revealed” erred in identifying the Romans as the main culprits behind John the Baptist’s death. A reading of Matthew 14 will reveal it was the foolishness of Herod that resulted John’s death, rather than some political maneuvering by the Romans.
A third mistake made in the episode had to do with the claim that after John the Baptist’s death, John’s disciples became Jesus’ disciples. According to John 1:29-51, John’s disciples Andrew, James and John began following Jesus. Contrary to the History Channel’s claims, Jesus’ ministry and calling of disciples began before, not after John the Baptist’s death.
b. The History Channel’s so-called experts try to dismiss the notion of Jesus miracles, but they offer no reasonable argument against why the miracles should be doubted. Undoubtedly the skeptical, materialistic worldview of the panel is ruling their interpretation of Jesus’ life rather than evidence.
2. How Episode 4 of “Bible Secrets Revealed” mishandles the overall identity and purpose of Jesus’s life a. Mary Magdalene’s supposed relationship to Jesus and doubts about His Messianic claims are tossed like rocks against the validity of the Canonical four Gospels’ portrayal of Jesus’ ministry. Ultimately the accusations made by the panel of “experts” are likened unto pebbles in comparison to the impregnable fortresses that are the New Testament Gospels. Appealing to the Gnostic Gospels (such as the Gospel of Mary) for proof of Jesus’ alleged illicit affair proves absolutely nothing, due to the fact that the Nag Hammadi texts would had been composed some 125-150 years after Jesus’ life. The Gnostic Gospels were rejected by the church fathers because they offer no value historically or theologically to explaining the identity and purpose of Jesus’ life.
b. Dr. Dale Martin of Yale University claims that there are hardly any explicit statements made by Jesus in the four Canonical Gospels about Him being the Messiah. The fact that Jesus begins His ministry by reading from the scroll of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:18 at the Synaogogue of Nazareth concerning His fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies is a clear example. Contrary to Dr. Martin’s assertions, the many prophecies (109), miracles (35), parables (60-70) and sermons (5) all aimed to revealing His Messianic identity and ultimately His identity as God with us, Immanuel.
3. How Episode 4 of “Bible Secrets Revealed” mishandles the trial and crucifixion of Jesus The main issues that the “Bible Secrets Revealed” kept broaching were the details surrounding the trials that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. In the skeptical and critical worldview of the show, the facts of Jesus’ trial being held at night and on the eve of a holy day like Passover does not make sense. This particular segment of the episode reveals the inadequacy of of show’s ability to handle the facts as presented in the four Gospels. The illegal nature of the proceedings served to demonstrate just how bent the Jews and Romans were in getting Jesus put to death. The Gospel writers show us the true nature of Jesus’ accusers. If anything, the four Gospel’s portrayal of the three Jewish Trials and Three Gentile Trials shows evidence of historical reality rather than fiction.
4. How Episode 4 of “Bible Secrets Revealed” mishandles Jesus’ resurrection The panel of “experts” claimed having Jesus’ body placed in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimethea meant that the disciples had to place the body somewhere until after the Passover. This hypothesis is based off of the idea that in order to grant Jesus a proper burial, the Jews could not had done it during the Passover, being that such an act would had been improper in the Jewish context.
The only problem with the hypothesis is that when compared to first century Jewish burial practices, problems arise. For one thing, a person’s body was placed in a tomb or sepulchre was meant to remain for a long period of time until the body completely decayed. After the body would had decayed to the remains of a skeleton, the family would had came back to retrieve the bones and bury them accordingly. When Joseph would had arranged for his own tomb to be used for Jesus’ body, he would not had went back after the Passover to retrieve it. Furthermore, the tomb would had been ritually unclean and thus unusable for the owner.
Secondly, the Gospels records detail how the Jews had the Roman post soldiers at the opening of the tomb for fear of the body being stolen. Like all alternative scenarios that attempt to explain away the resurrection, issues such as the actions of Jesus’ enemies, the presence of Roman soldiers at the tomb and the reaction of the Disciples to the news of Jesus resurrection mitigate against the possibility of the body being stolen, moved or just plain missing.
Thirdly, the “Bible Mysteries Revealed” panel claim that their theory expects there to be an empty tomb, due to their contention that the body may had been moved. To respond, it would make no sense to emphasize an empty tomb for the sake to demonstrate that the body had been moved elsewhere. Not only is such a suggestion not supported by any Biblical, archaeological or literary evidence, but the hypothesis misses the point of the empty tomb in the Gospel accounts. Luke 24:6 states plainly: “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you whileHe was still in Galilee.”
- P1 – A 12 point critique of History Channel’s “Bible Secrets Revealed” (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
- P2 – A 12 point critique of the History Channel’s “Bible Secrets Revealed” (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
- P1- Evaluating Episode 3: Bible Secrets Revealed – What story is it trying to tell about the history of the N.T Canon (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
- P2- Evaluating Episode 3: Bible Secrets Revealed – The background of fascination with the Nag Hammadi texts (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
- P3- Evaluating Episode 3: Bible Secrets Revealed – What history really says about the New Testament Canon (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
- P4- Evaluating Episode 3: Bible Secrets Revealed – Concluding remarks and Why Christians should care about the New Testament Canon (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)