Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Quick Thoughts on NOVA's The Bible's Buried Secrets

I just finished watching NOVA's program The Bible's Buried Secrets about 20 minutes ago.

All in all, I found it to be an interesting and balanced program that for the most part confirmed what I had already believed, that some of the events in the Bible described from the time of the kings are largely historical, whereas earlier events are either uncorroborated or legend. The website for the program is here.

I do have a few criticisms about what was not discussed in the program, though in part it might be due to the fact that only so much could be packed into two hours.

One glaring omission from the discussion of the development of the Old Testament is that there is no mention of the books of the prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, which are dated prior to the Babylonian Conquest. To what extent can it be determined that these books fully predate the Babylonian Conquest or if they were meant to be cautionary tales to impress upon the Jews that their kingdom was destroyed because the prophets were not heeded during the time they were said to have lived?

Since the program supports the scholarly consensus that the Israelis who were polytheistic prior to the Babylonian Captivity had become monotheistic Jews after their liberation by the Persians, I would like to have seen some attention given to the possible influence of Zoroastrianism on monotheistic Judaism. The website I linked to above has a link where you can send an e-mail with questions about the program, and I inquired about this. I will post a follow-up if I receive a response.

Near the end, when they talked about how the Torah achieved its final form during the Babylonian Captivity, there was mention about how the Jews would have found or drawn a parallel between their current situation and the exiles described in Egypt, including Abraham's sojourn there, and that Abraham had originally come from Mesopotamia. I was expecting them to mention what to me seemed so obvious, that the story of Abraham betrays its 6th century BC origin because Abraham is said to have come from the city of Ur of the Chaldees, and the Babylonian Empire of Nebuchadnezzar is also referred to as the Chaldean Empire.

1 comment:

Baconeater said...

I wrote a review as well. You know a lot more about the bible than I do, but I give a few different angles as well.