Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Must Watch TV-Bible's Buried Secrets on BBC 2 Tuesday 21:00

Now I have to admit that I haven't seen the BBC 2 documentary "The Bible's Buried Secrets" which began last week and airs again tonight in the second of three parts but as one of my friends declared "any excuse". Meaning, isn't it fantastic that we actually have something "Bible" to watch (that isn't on the History Channel).

The host is Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou (who I met only very briefly at SOTS where she is secretary) who is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religous Studies in the University of Exeter. She blogs here on the BBC website about making the programme.

I teach on Tuesday evenings and have yet to reach the dizzy heights of a salary that would allow me a Sky+ box so I shall have to await a rerun. Meanwhile I have benn entertained with the reviews of it. I offer a reward to anyone who can find me a review of programme based on the Bible with a male presenter that features so much focus on the presenter's makeup and clothes. Though I suspect you'd be hard-pressed to find a programme that would feature bible archeology and a black cocktail dress (SEE, I told you you *had* to watch it).

The Daily Telegraph and here. Daily Mail readers doubt the ability of a Senior Lecturer ("She looks awful young!"-read "She's wearing knee high boots!") to know anything about anything (look at comments below the article). There's also an interesting article in TIME magazine on Asherah.
Tonight's episode is "Did God have a wife?" Let me know what you think!


  1. 'Did God have a wife' was absolutely amazing! I always wondered why Christianity was so male centred and this programme explained that it wasn't always like that and gave an explanation as to how and why it changed. Just brilliant. I sat for ages after it finished thinking about it.

  2. This programme and Brian cox's wonders of the universe are the two reasons to watch TV thankyou, BBC2 for saving us from the childish rubbish that constitutes the rest of TV output.

  3. I'll certainly do my utmost to get to watch the programmes with such good reviews-though a bit of "childish rubbish" doesn't hurt the odd time! Good to relax the brain :)

  4. I am glad to see the BBC catch up with the consensus of Near East historians.

  5. Fascinating programmes. Fascinating presenter but buy a few more tops before the Sky Box

  6. God is wise, apparently. Do you really think God would be so stupid as to take/suffer a wife!! Lol, that burden was to be firmly placed on the shoulders of man; just to have a bit of a laugh.

  7. Perhaps I am the only dissenter, but this programme had so much potential and yet ended up being utter hogwash.

    Bias, narrow-minded and ignorant: these are words we tend to attribute to the religiously 'extreme'. Unfortunately, however, it applies here to the presenter and maker of the programme. My word, the Beeb have let down the entire rational thinking world.

    Rarely was there any presentation of hard evidence or scholarly references to the "facts" and "discoveries" made. We were told umpteen times that scholars "across the world" now believe what this Dr Stavrakopoulou purports, but who? Which prominent scholars? Where can we obtain this information? Is it just that one male German professor we were heard from every time?

    I was utterly disappointed. How many times must we here the presenter say what she "thinks" in the space of five minutes? The programme was prejudice beyond belief.

    One thing I couldn't get my head around was the rant on the word, "el", which we were told was a name for God was means, wait for it, 'god'. OK, so there's El and el, like God and god(s), we get it. Then we were told that this word, "el" was used by the Canaanites for their chief god, whom they called, "el"... and, guess what, so did the ancient Hebrews. And somehow, from the use of a similar word, we are told that the Jews were polytheistic? Proven in references like Isra'el and Bat'el... what utter hogwash.

    The BBC should be more thorough in the making of such documentaries. The public are not stupid. Evidence is demanded for such claims and assertions. The unsubstantiated claims of the apparent conflict between a portrayal of polytheism and monotheism made plenty of references to the Canaanites, Hebrews and indeed Christians but have the BBC decided to ignore the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who established a monotheistic state in around 1350BC?

    We need programmes like this on the television. Wonders of the Universe; The Story of Ireland; and the series entitled 'Justice', these are all fine examples of thought-provoking episodes that we can trust and enjoy. Indeed, we ought to be informed and given different points of view and the BBC normally does this well. But we do not need the half-hearted attempts of pure rubbish and ignorance that spewed from this programme.

  8. I have to agree with much of what Anonymous has written above, I've found this programme rather disappointing.

    Dr Stavrakopoulou is apparently firmly on the minimalist side of the debate over the extent to which the Hebrew Bible can be regarded as historically accurate in its description of past events. However, I don't find many of her arguments very persuasive and it seems that we are just supposed to accept her views because she is a scholar and has supposedly read the Bible critically. The arguments about El and Asherah last week were particularly unconvincing.

  9. I am very disappointed that Dr Stavrakopoulou failed to see the story as a whole. I mean like, there's nowhere in the bible trying to conceil the fact that Isrealites were always trying to worship foreign God. Nowhere.
    There is a reason why the first commandant was You shall have no other gods before me!

  10. If you are in the (not always so) great brittain you can view the show here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00zp3j3/Bibles_Buried_Secrets_Did_King_Davids_Empire_Exist/
    I find the tone to be a bit sensationalist but the content interesting. It seems to be based on a documentary that aired on the show NOVA on PBS in the US by the same name a couple of years ago that has less of the sensationalist tone and also is a tad bit less minimalist in it's views. If you can find it it is recommended. PBS has it up on their page but only for americans but I think there are versions up on youtube also.

  11. PBS Page: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/
    Clip on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nicH0CqIodw