Scholars Say

David Lamb recently posted his impressions of the first episode of the documentary series Bible Secrets Revealed, the second episode of which airs this evening. I appreciated David’s comments, but also found myself wondering about one point he made (which relates to a topic that came up here on this blog as well). He complained that Evangelical views were not adequately represented (Michael Kruger likewise complained about the documentary not presenting “both sides”).

Since I know that Evangelicals were interviewed, and that one or two scholars from Azusa Pacific appeared more than once in the first episode, I’m not sure that comment is accurate. But even if it is, I wonder about whether makers of a documentary need to make a point of including Evangelical views even when those Evangelical views are not accepted outside of conservative Evangelical circles, and thus are likely to reflect the influence of dogmatic presuppositions rather than the results of scholars following evidence where it leads.

Of course, if you are going to include Reza Aslan, then you really ought to be giving every stance held by actual Biblical scholars a voice first!

But seriously, this is a genuine and important issue. I’ve seen documentaries which present multiple sides including ones that are really fringe, and I’ve seen documentaries which present an issue as having been settled in one particular way when a matter is a subject of genuine scholarly debate. Documentaries should reflect the scholarly consensus if there is one, and reflect the lack of consensus if there is genuine rather than merely manufactured controversy.

Note also that Answers in Genesis has offered negative comments about the documentary – that is typically a good sign. It is truly ironic when groups like that quote 2 Timothy 4:3–4, which says “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” That is exactly what Answers in Genesis does. It refuses to listen to anyone who doesn’t say what they want to hear. And then they have the audacity to accuse those who’ve followed the evidence where it leads of doing what they themselves do!

For more related to this topic, see Fred Clark’s American football-related thoughts about the documentary, Anthony LeDonne’s snippet about Mark GoodacreBob Cargill’s screenshots of the credits, and Brian Bibb’s post about being academic and accessible.

Feel free to come here to talk about tonight’s episode after it airs!

  • beau_quilter

    A truly ironic use of 2 Timothy, indeed! Even more ironic that a consensus of the scholars AIG uses the verse against agree that 2 Timothy is a pseudepigraph.

  • David Lamb

    Hi James, thanks for including the link to my review. Just to clarify, I was confused by the show, because of the inclusion of several people from APU. I did address my comments on the Bible section, not the history section. The scholar from APU didn’t seem to represent a broad Evangelical perspective on those issues. I love your comments that AIG’s negative comments should be interpreted positively. Raising great issues here.

  • Just Sayin’

    For some unknown reason, we poor Canadians are having to wait until Sunday to have revealed to us these two thousand year old Bible secrets:

    http://www.history.ca/biblesecretsrevealed

    Last to the party as usual!

    • TrevorN

      Hardly; out here in Oceania we won’t see the first episode until halfway through December.

      • Just Sayin’

        How will we survive when the Americans know these Bible secrets and we don’t?

        Reminds me of that Sixties song, “Do You Wanna Know a Secret? ooh, ooh, ooh…”

  • Peter Kirby

    If every documentary concerning the Bible had a moral obligation to include Evangelical voices, the result would be a bland world where every such work was created to be fit-for-Fox-News by providing a “fair and balanced” sampling of talking heads. Such criticism ignores the fact of context outside the work itself. There are works that are exclusively from an Evangelical viewpoint. There are works that are exclusively from a nutter viewpoint. And there are some that might dabble in either but attempt to stay the course between. Giving twenty minutes out of every fifty to the Evangelical scholars might represent scholarship by weight volume, but unless specific claims are made to be “fair and balanced” in this way, there should be no such obligation expected of it.

  • http://matthewryanhauge.com/ Matthew Ryan Hauge

    Thanks for your post James. The term “evangelical” is typically unhelpful in public discourse because of its broad semantic range. APU does identify itself as an “evangelical” institution, but our heritage is Wesleyan and our faculty are incredibly diverse. I identify with the Nazarene tradition, but I work side-by-side with Catholics, Presbyterians, Orthodox Christians, Calvinists, Lutherans, etc. I can say, without equivocation, that Brad Hale and Bob Mullins are first-rate scholars in their respective disciplines, which is why Bob Cargill (also a former colleague of mine) included them in the documentary.

  • Leo O’Bannon

    Ken Ham likes to use the term “Compromiser” which is the 21st century way of calling someone a heretic. Silly man, that Ham.

  • beau_quilter

    I watched the 2nd part of “Bible Secrets Revealed” via Roku. I can’t help but feel that there is something fishy in the editing. “Events” in Jesus life are often narrated without “according to” or any other disclaimer. In one case the story of the woman caught in adultery is told. It strikes me as peculiar that Bart Ehrman is taped telling most of the story; but I’ve never read Ehrman relating this tale without also pointing out that it is almost certainly a textual interpolation. Did they edit this out of the Ehrman interview?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Probably.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X