Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Secret Family of Jesus: Channel 4 Documentary

It turns out that this year's religious documentary offering from Channel 4 on Christmas day is a piece exploring Jesus' family. From Channel 4's website:

The Secret Family of Jesus
25 December at 8pm
Did Jesus have a real human family? If so, why were they airbrushed from history and excised from the bible? Robert Beckford tells the story of the people who shared his bloodline.
Robert is a former colleague of mine at the University of Birmingham and his profile as a film-maker has risen hugely in the last few years. In fact, this is one of two documentaries he is involved with this Christmas. He discussed them both on today's Simon Mayo on FiveLive and was his usual, lively self. Listen again to the interview (streamed), or download it as a podcast -- it is today's Daily Mayo item. I'll be interested to see who is involved with The Secret Family of Jesus. Not me. I once enjoyed taking part in one of these experiences, Who Wrote the Bible?, on Christmas Day 2004, having filmed my section in Rome a couple of months earlier. This year, at least I won't have to inflict earnest religious content on my family on Christmas day, though I suppose we have the option of going for a smorgasbord of Some Like it Hot on Channel 4 at 4.35pm, followed by the new Doctor Who on BBC1 at 7pm, followed by Beckford at 8pm. Actually, we'll probably stick with Marilyn Monroe and David Tennant and video Dr Beckford. Sorry, Robert.


Christopher Shell said...

Why would that enjoyable presenter Robert Beckford associate himself with a project that flags itself up thus?-
'there was one conspiracy the Da Vinci Code left untouched. For years the Church tried to suppress it. But now...etc etc.'

In a nutshell we have TV/press's imposed ideology, the way they badly *want* things to be. Count the mistakes one by one:
(1) Presupposing that the DVC had any mileage in the first place;
(2) Presupposing that there must have been a rash of conspiracies;
(3) The stereotype of always having 'church' and 'cover-up' in the same sentence;
(4) the quite untrue implication that there are any remarkable new revelations to be made on this topic.
Airing it on Christmas Day? Well, we had to quash the pure Christian message somehow.

A preacher might say: 'It's a spiritual battle, guys.' Supposing that they did say that, how exactly would they be wrong? One fears not at all for scholarly truth. One fears, rather, for the viewers who don't and can't know any better. Overplaying their hand, the packagers of this programme have shown they are agenda-driven. And agenda is the antithesis of open-minded scholarship.

James D. Tabor said...

I did a week of fllming on this in Israel with Robert, most enjoyable all around, with host, producer, director, and crew. I was asked to talk about John the Baptist and James the brother of jesus. I have not seen the whole nor do I know the "pitch" or direction overall. As always, when one does such things, one hopes for the best.

Merry Christmas,

James Tabor

Anonymous said...

Robert Beckford appeared to make a fool of himself in the eyes of any who put substance over "popular opinion" as the key to gaining any semblence of truth. Inferring that there must have been something "goin on" between Jesus and Mary magdalene based on a comment "do not touch me" is more than absurd.

However, “touch” is just one of the meanings of the Greek word ha'pto. Another of the many significances of this Greek word is “to cling to, lay hold of.” (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine, Vol. IV, p. 145) Accordingly, The New English Bible presents Jesus as saying at John 20:17: “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” The statement is similarly translated in An American Translation and the Catholic La Bible de J√©rusalem (The Jerusalem Bible) in French and English. The Spanish Ediciones Paulinas uses “Su√©ltame,” meaning “Let go of me.”

Anonymous said...

Dr. Robert Beckford has once again revealed that he really does not deserve the so-called 'scholarly' reputation he apparently possesses. As a Graduate Student of Biblical Studies at Cambridge, I expected a slightly 'popular' approach. Yet I was astounded at how ridiculous the programme actually was.

For example, the claim that the imperative given to Mary Magdalene by the resurrected Jesus, 'do not touch me', *obviously* implies that they previously touched one another on a frequent basis, which in turn *obviously* means that their relationship was intimate. Though I can think of a multitude of responses, such claims don't even deserve a rejoinder.

This man, clearly, has the intellectual substance and integrity of a tadpole.

Christopher Shell said...

I think that the family of Jesus is a unifying factor in much of what is missing in our knowledge of Christian origins, and James Tabor has (though he was not the first) correctly highlighted this -however much one might question or deplore his Eisenmanian insistence that there must be some special significance in the fact that different individuals are all called such unlikely names as James, Jude or Simon.

The programme was at least enjoyable and one could pick and choose the good and substantial bits. My favourite was the dark implication that some scholars considered that the letters James and Jude might emanate from circles surrounding the brothers of Jesus - as though this was the most that could possibly be claimed. No suggestion that there was any possibility of their emanating (directly or ultimately) from the individuals themselves - now, that would be far too simplistic - and in any case it is almost unheard-of for a letter to be written by the one who claims to write it.

Anonymous said...

Readers may like to visit www.newadvent.org/cathen/02767a.htm

Anonymous said...

Robert Beckford is a television presenter and thus his views aren’t to be taken as scriptural. While he correctly exposes some untruths he brings up others points which are just as erroneous and bordering on the ridiculous. He should be careful not to align himself with what the bible terms a Religious Harlot or Prostitute; one who sells a religious view, true or false, for personal gain, part of “Babylon the Great” spoken of in Revelation.

While I praise him for exposing some untruth, so far he hasn’t shown himself to have the direction of God’s spirit to lead him to the truth. In fact, his views will only create more disillusionment with God and religion. He must let people know that the untruth found in religion is the method used to blind people to the truth.

I wonder if he will be willing to tackle a subject like “Hell Fire, Not a Bible Teaching”. In which he discusses the bible view point that whether you steal, sleep with another man… or his wife, murder or rape… the wages of sin is eternal death NOT eternal torment.

Or maybe he wants to discuss five points to identify false religion; the use of idols in worship; forbidding men to marry; forbidding to eat certain foods; the use of the religious term ‘Father’; the wearing of red robes; the use of many or repeated prayers; many people on that road or religious way. (Each of these is supported by one or more scriptures.)

Followed by five points to identify true religion; all teachings based on the bible and not tradition; worship only Jehovah God and not idols, men or a woman; pray only to God through Christ; accept Jesus as the only means of salvation; are no part of this ‘World’; have love among themselves; preach the kingdom as God’s only hope for men; few on the road to finding that religion. (Each of these is also supported by one or more scripture).


Alinda Ssenfuma said...

The Jewish culture dictated then that unrelated man and woman would not touch freely, clearly, Magdalene seemed unrestrained until Jesus raised his voice to prevent her.

Alinda Ssenfuma said...

The Jewish culture dictated then that unrelated man and woman would not touch freely, clearly, Magdalene seemed unrestrained until Jesus raised his voice to prevent her.