Today I had a lengthy trial, and was looking forward to an evening of relaxing after all of the stress of preparation and presentation. I made myself something nice to eat, and tried to settle down with an interesting television program. And of course, I made the mistake of tuning in to NOVA, on PBS, and their “documentary” on the historical accuracy of the Bible.
I gave it about 50 minutes.
As all Catholics know, the Bible is the inspired word of God: it is not a literal timeline or account book of everything that has occurred in faith history from the year naught. The first irony I found in this program was the desire of the presenters to show the audience that the Bible is not 100% historically accurate, when the Church itself does not claim that it is either. It is rather difficult to pick an argument with someone who agrees with you, but this did not seem to deter the investigators.
In the time wasted watching this program, I did not see a single interview with ANY Catholic or Orthodox priest – not to mention the lack of an interview with any Protestant minister, or any Rabbinic scholar. This is a bit like filming a documentary about the medical profession without interviewing a single physician. Many of the experts interviewed took the view that the Old Testament was a tissue of lies and myths, based on postmodernist claptrap like, e.g., the desire of competing cultures to create dialogue among disenfranchised peoples, and the like. Presumably they only had to put down their dog-eared copies of “I, Rigoberta Menchu” for a moment in order to distinguish for us what in fact were lies and myths.
St. Paul tells us – and remember, this is his year after all – in his second letter to the Thessalonians, that we are to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). We are a Church of both the written word and of sacred tradition: we do not compartmentalize and separate these two. Ultimately this is the greatest strength of orthodox Christianity, as practiced in the Latin and Eastern churches.
Unfortunately, as is usually the case when it attempts to tackle a Biblical subject, PBS is simply out of its depth. It does not understand the Faith, rather only a cardboard paper doll version of it, which PBS itself has constructed simply in order to knock it down. This gives us, however, a greater opportunity to be witnesses of hope to those who have come to unquestioningly believe the statements of the media in these matters. If your faith is challenged by what some professor you have never heard of has to say on NOVA, I’ve got news for you: you are not ready for the challenges of life itself. Fortunately, it is far easier to avoid PBS and its paltry Biblical scholarship.