Bible Secrets Revealed Secrets Revealed

Joel Hoffmann announced that he is in the first episode of Bible Secrets Revealed, a new documentary series that airs starting tonight at 10 pm on the History Channel.

Since I don’t know if or when I am in any episodes, that may mean that I ended up entirely on the cutting room floor, or whatever its digital equivalent is. We’ll soon see!

Dan McClellan will be live-blogging the series. And Bob Cargill will be answering questions about it on the Biblical Archaeology Society website.


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  • Beau Quilter

    I’ve checked my local listings – and I will be watching tonight!

  • Beau Quilter

    OK that’s one episode down. Overly dramatic narrator, some good basic information with a few misleading narratives (the editors mistakenly have paired Ehrman’s comments on pseudepigraphy with a segment on the gospels), old friends (Ehrman, Cargill, Moss, Goodacre – including Aslan, though, was a little sketchy), …

    … but how could they leave out James McGrath from the very first episode! Come on, we need the big guns, bring in McGrath!

    • Michael I

      big guns

      Although maybe James would prefer to be a cudgel, or a pointy stick.


  • Pentheus Makarios

    Here’s the “secret” that I’d like to see revealed:

    • James F. McGrath

      Yes, those who find creative convoluted ways to get Daniel to allegedly match up precisely in its details with events in the life of Jesus certainly do reveal something…about the people who force the one to match the other, not about the Book of Daniel itself.

      That said, the Book of Daniel did inspire the apocalyptic expectations that prevailed in the first century, and of which the origin of Christianity is a part.

      • Pentheus Makarios

        Thanks for your response, though I’m not sure what you mean by creative and convoluted, as I haven’t yet been able to find any flawed logic in the claim. You may be satisfied to dismiss it all with a quick sneer, but that does nothing, in fact, to disprove any of it.

        Whether or not people have used Daniel’s prophecies to their own ends is beside the point, as that is exactly what we should expect people to do (Rom 8:7).

        I had hoped to get more than a sneer out of you, Mr. McGrath.

        • James F. McGrath

          If you want more than a sneer, then you need to offer something that is better than and distinguishable from all the other attempts to get Daniel and the story of Jesus to match up precisely.

          • Pentheus Makarios

            Thanks again for responding. A clear, logical, and scripture informed evaluation is exactly what I offered in my first post. I would greatly appreciate it if you would explain where the errors are, as I would also really like to resolve the issue.

            I brought it up in the first place because I think it would be an entertaining thing to see on the show. It seems to me to be quite unique as far as prophecy is concerned, as Daniel claims that it came from the mouth of the Angel Gabriel.

          • James F. McGrath

            But the evidence from the text, and its genre, suggests that it is in fact a pseudoprophecy written during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

            Lots of texts claim to have angelic revelation in them. In some cases, the genre requires that, and it should not be treated as though it is describing something that actually happened.

          • Pentheus Makarios

            Thanks for clarifying, I really appreciate it!

            Regarding when (and by whom) the book of Daniel was written, here are some things to consider:
            1/ Jersualem was taken by Antiochus Ephiphanes in 170 BC (please correct me if I’m wrong).*

            2/ Daniel claims to have been alive during the reign of Cyrus the Persian (Daniel 6:28), who according to the British Museum reigned from “about 539-530 BC.”**

            It follows that either
            A/ Daniel was telling the truth, and the book was in fact written in the 6th century BC,
            B/ Daniel lived an extraordinarily long time,
            C/ Daniel didn’t write the book of Daniel, but someone else did nearly four centuries after the events took place (is this your view?)

            I find option B to be very unlikely, and option C is refuted by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. Therefore, I believe the book was written by Daniel because it seems to be the most plausible conclusion, and also because I believe Jesus.
            I would further contend that those who don’t believe Jesus have much more pressing issues to attend to than the authorship of the book of Daniel.

            *I suppose you are already familiar with the archaeological evidence which disproves the late authorship theory:


          • James F. McGrath

            Option C is not refuted by what Matthew, Mark, or Jesus did with Daniel, any more than a reference to Moses attributed to Jesus determines who wrote the Pentateuch. And option C is what we are talking about, not a long life or prediction. The predictions precisely match the events that impacted Judaea as it was caught between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, and then it gets the death of Antiochus wrong and predicts the final judgment immediately thereafter. That provides strong evidence as to when the book was written, when pseudoprediction stops and actual prediction starts.

          • Pentheus Makarios

            Our difference, then, is that you to hold the authority of man over the Scriptures, while I hold the authority of the Scriptures over man. I respect your view, and I appreciate your having taken the time to discuss this with me.

            A person who holds Scripture to be authoritative would expect that “The predictions precisely match the events that impacted Judaea as it was caught between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids” – as “declaring the end from the beginning” is an ability of God alone (Isaiah 46:9-10) which makes these things the surest substantiation of Scripture (2 Peter 1:19).

            Another example is that of Isaiah who was given visions in the days of Uzziah et al. (8th century BC), including those in Isaiah 44:28 & 45:1 which calls king Cyrus by name nearly 150 years before he was born – and was later fulfilled by Cyrus (Ezra 5:13, 6:3 et al.).

            I am quite aware of the conspiratorial and superstitious claims made by so-called “prophecy buffs” regarding the end times – which does much to discredit the study of prophecy – but I am here only referring to those things which have already been fulfilled. The “prophecy buffs” of Jesus’ day were tragically wrong as well – mainly because they held man (namely themselves) to have authority over the Scriptures (Mark 7:13).

            Here is a quick piece on literalism and historical accuracy which I hope you’ll find useful:

            Enjoy your weekend!

          • James F. McGrath

            That is not it at all. Treating Deutero-Isaiah as though it were by an 8th century prophet is not respecting the content of the text, which indicates that the section from chapter 40 onward is addressed to people for whom the exile is already part of their experience, and not a future prediction. And treating Daniel as though it were not apocalyptic literature is not respecting the text either. It is allowing man-made definitions of what Scripture ought to be trump the contents of Scripture.

  • Gary

    Very good program. To get on TV, first priority is entertainment. So it has to be dramatic. Nothing new for me, except the Golith stuff. Now I am more interested in this Sunday. The best scenario is no mention of it in church. Although the church I attend has no inerrancy statements, the majority of the members are effectively fundamentalists. So I expect any comments from them may be negative. So no comments, I would consider positive.

  • mallen717

    Biblical scholars will no doubt breathlessly await what “secrets” may be revealed in these programs that everyone has missed for thousands of years. What a bunch of marketing garbage.

    • James F. McGrath

      Umm, no, actually it is the other way around. There is nothing new on the show for scholars, and the information has been “secret” only in the sense that a lot of people who claim the Bible is important for them ignore the actual study thereof in a serious academic manner.

  • wildhias

    Finally got to watch the first episode but i am a bit disappointed

    Mainly because i didn’t see James McGrath
    but also because I think the whole sensationist debunking approach gets in the way of a sober discussion of the data.

    I also think that if respectable conservative scholars (like NT Wright, who is at least as reputable als Aslan) were included, it would make it more difficult for fundamentalists to portray everything as liberal propaganda, as they always do with these serieses.

    But even among the scholars interviewed for the series, there must be a lot of differing opinions, why are they not shown?

    • Beau Quilter

      N.T. Wright is commonly touted as a leading “New Testament Scholar”, but that is a misleading title that is bandied about to describe scholars of history, textual criticism, and theology with no delineation between these fields. Wright’s degrees are in theology, not history, which makes sense when you consider the faulty premises behind his historical Jesus arguments.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Very disappointed with the two episodes I’ve seen. The annoying narrator would have it seem like the big bad “Church” got together in a room sometime in the 300s and decided “now how should we subjugate women, consolidate our power, and suppress the “truth” about Jesus” . . .what really happened is actually far more nuanced and complicated but I suppose one shouldn’t expect the network that now makes its advert dollars off of “Ice Road Truckers” to produce anything of real scholastic value. Especially the inference that the Gnostic texts were as early as what made it into the NT. For the most part the scholarly consensus (with a few exceptions . . Pastorals, 2 Peter, Acts) is that the NT was composed in the 1st century and the Gnostic texts we have are all 2nd-4th century, with a couple of exceptions.

    One could have put together a pretty interesting, “non orthodox” foray into biblical criticism without the tireless conspiracy-mongering and inferences that everything was a bloody cover-up. Pagels who they interviewed for the series has actually written a couple of very good books focusing on the whole early Church “Gnostic-Orthodox” conflicts but many significant points addressed there are largely ignored in this series.