Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Bible's Buried Secrets

Did you see the recent documentary series on BBC2? Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou presented a three part series attempting to 'prove' some controversial theories with the aid of archaeology. Conservative Christians up and down the UK tweeted and blogged their outrage.

For what its worth, here's my take on what she had to say. I suppose all this contains spoilers, if you haven't seen the shows.

Episode 1. Was there a King David?
Yes. Next.
Well, the most I think you can say from the evidence presented in the programme was that there probably was a historical King David, but that some of the claims made about him in the bible may be a bit exaggerated. But when you find inscriptions relating to a king 'of the line of David' from a time, supposedly only 100 or so years after the alleged time of David, then I'm happy to believe that, yes, there was at some point a bloke called David. His descendent was a king, so its not unreasonable to think that he might have been a king too.

Episode 2. Did God have a wife?
Now this is the one that got people in a flap. But the bible makes it clear, Ashera was worshiped in the same temple as God, in Jerusalem, for at least 65% of the time that the (first) temple was there. Given the evidence, its not unreasonable to deduce that the people (well, the 'bad' kings and some priests at least, but presumably a significant subset of the people too) considered the goddess Ashera to be worthy of worship alongside God. Its not too far a jump from there to making them a couple. So if the question is 'Was God believed to have a wife by some people?' then the answer is certainly yes. The programme could not possibly address the question 'Did (the real) God have a wife?' as the assumption underlying the whole thing is that there was and is no real God.

Episode 3. Where was the garden of Eden?
This topic didn't actually sound that exciting to me, but I found this theory the most interesting and convincing of the three. The first temple was decorated as a garden? Totally plausible. The Adam character is the priest/king with the divinely appointed task of tending the 'garden'? Yes, I can see that. I'm surprised Melchizedek wasn't invoked at some point, given that he was priest and king in (Jeru)Salem. The Ezekiel stuff makes more sense in this context rather than talking about the fall of Lucifer. So, yes, I'm with the reasoning the whole way. Even the snake stuff. But at the end we never find out which king! Why not? Why not even speculate? Which King was Adam?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It got me into a bit of a flap too, to be honest, and I am far from conservative when it comes to stuff like this.

My problem with the series?

She seemed to have a complete disregard for rules of evidence, and showed no consistency in her weighting of types of evidence, other than "if it supports me, it's trustworthy, if it doesn't it isn't"

I enjoyed the idea of the Eden episode, but she seemed to confuse Eden being the Archetype of future temples, and Adam being the archetypal king, with them being literal (if guised in metaphor) historical events at a date *much* later than there is any evidence for.