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PBS Bible Documentaries

Q. We watched a PBS documentary about the Old Testament called The Bible's Buried Secrets. It was disrespectful of the beliefs of Conservative Judaism and Christianity in many ways including an accusation that man created God - not the other way around. Should people boycott PBS or say something about it?


Excellent Source of News&Entertainment

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. There are similar criticisms of a current movie series called The Bible. Yet, we've heard that this particular series is the most popular ever aired and well done! So before you boycott this station please remember that PBS is one of the few remaining dignified, worthy news sources available to the public. For that reason alone, it still deserves our support.

Having graduated from UCLA's History Department- a graduate school that taught the Documentary Hypothesis and other so-called liberal viewpoints like the ones presented in the former PBS program - I've been exposed to all of this before.

I still think it is valuable for Christians and Jews to understand something about these viewpoints and to know why Christians and Jews believe in the historicity and truth of the Bible regardless.

A Big Yawn Syndrome

Let me start with a foundation statement. Most of the speculation about the Bible's origins and the lives of people in the Bible is just that - "speculation" based upon little or no evidence or even good old-fashion common sense.

Many theories such as those presented on TV shows like PBS and magazines like Newsweek do not hold up to even mediocre investigation.

Theories like "deutero-Isaiah" or the "documentary hypothisis" of Moses have been generally discarded in the last 50 years by competent scholars because they just did not hold water. For those of us who do not live in "ivory towers" my advice is, "Don't waste your time!"

A Miracle of Prophecies

Frankly, most of it gives me the big "yawn" syndrome, a "so what" attitude. In other words, so what if several authors wrote Isaiah according to the liberal hypothesis? Does that negate the incredible internal prophecies of Isaiah - which are proved to have been written hundreds of years before the prophesied facts occurred?

No… What really matters is to decide for yourself if what the Bible says about itself, God, Jesus and people is true.

Is an Anthology Bad?

So what if Moses compiled an anthology of various writings from the regions where he lived and traveled when putting together the Torah? Does that change the message?

What about the legitimacy and value of oral traditions that may have contributed to the Torah? Are they valid? So what if four different strands of tradition comprise early writings as the PBS documentary proposes? Does this invalidate these particular writings? No…

In fact, be sure to read our article called the Genesis Tablet Theory. In it you will find an eye-opening discovery by Assyriologist Donald and Percy Wiseman that Genesis consists of several eye-witness or first hand accounts! This makes obsolete the JEDP Documentary Hypothesis.

Real Proof?

So what if some scholars think Moses never existed. Do they have real proof behind their theory? Is it valid? Why do they think that?

So what if a few slaves escaped from Egypt and headed for Canaan. So what if the early Jews were really Canaanites? (Although, the Bible clearly teaches that Abraham came from Iraq).

How do scholars know for sure and why do they make theories sound so authoritative? Is their documentation reliable? And if not why does PBS keep giving them credence? Do they have a hidden agenda?

Open Minded?

So what if a few "learned" men think primitive peoples created God rather than God created man? Clearly, most of this comes from their own personal, hostile opinions and worldview. It is not rooted in fact - they can't prove it.

So does it really matter? Does it fundamentally change our theology or beliefs? Of course not. They only do it to confuse us or to appear "open minded." But, are they really?

Best Archaeological Discoveries just 50 Years Old

Remember this. Most significant archaeological evidence has been discovered in only the past fifty years of bible research. Many Harvard and Princeton theologians are not even familiar with the latest discoveries as of this date (Muncaster 2000, 19).

Many of these same scholars have made deliberate choices to ignore conservative scholarship that might prove the validity of the Bible. So they are not even interested in researching new finds.

25,000 Archaeological Discoveries

In fact, there are more than 25,000 archaeological discoveries that have verified the names of people, places, ancient customs and events from the Bible. The Bible is so accurate that famous historians and archaeologists have used the bible as a "road map" to find remains and writings of ancient cultures in Mesopotamia and surrounding areas.

But, secular researchers don't tell us that, do they?

The "Fool"

Besides, if a scholar wishes to look for evidence to "prove" that God does not exist he will find it - specious though it may be. We can't do anything about that. Please recognize that very often scholars who set out to disprove God or the Bible have moral lapses in their own lives and character that cause them to desperately NOT want to face accountability before God in judgment. You will see this time and time again.

Vested Interests

For example, I personally knew and studied under a Harvard-trained Christian professor who came to reject the Bible after he began an extramarital affair. He clearly had a vested interest in rejecting his faith. Ironically, he taught that women were valued in early church history and theology. Yet, he devalued his aging wife and took up residence with a younger woman. Go figure…

Nevertheless, I value my studies with this professor and feel that I learned much from him. My ability to find answers to questions like yours is rooted in my coursework with this particular teacher.

Trials make Heroes or Failures

Many scholars have difficulty remaining believers in biblical truth due to all kinds of reasons - the death of a child, a divorce, major illness, academic failures, publishing rejections, and so forth. Just like the rest of us, trials can cause believers to reject their faith or to become stronger in belief.

Perhaps this is partly why God warns us over and over that "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1, 10:4, 53:1).

What do you think?


Detailing Minutia

Now, let's move on to explore why or why not we can believe the Bible.

Endless discussions and the detailing of "minutia" from biblical criticism is not the way to handle challenges to our faith. If you wish, you can do that on your own by exploring the books given in our Resources. Those with good memories for historical trivia can store these in their receptive, fertile brains.

Reasons to Believe

But, for the rest of us let's look at some broad reasons and a few specifics as to why we continue to believe the Old Testament is the Word of God and we can place our faith in it.

66 Books, 40 Authors, 1600 Years

First, "the bible consists of 66 separate books written by over forty different authors over a period of 1600 years. Yet, it is a consistent, unified message" (Missler, 2002).

There is no other book in existence for which we can make the same claim. The Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, needs to be updated every year or so. Errors are corrected. News is updated. Scientific facts change. Historical accounts morph and change as new documents are added. Yet, the Bible does not require such updating as do books written solely by human beings.

Cross References

There are literally thousands of cross-references in the Bible. How can you make cross-references without internal consistency? Just open your reference Bible to see what I mean. Words, passages and imagery refer to other words, passages, and imagery without violating strict, scholarly standards.

This is why thousands of volumes of scholarly works exist written by learned people skilled in archaeology, ancient languages, customs, societies, and so forth. It takes skill to interpret, translate, and understand biblical books.

Copy Standards

We can have faith in the transmission of biblical texts (unlike other anthologies). This is because Jewish scribes were held to extremely strict codes and rules of copying when they copied the Old Testament.

They used a master copy. The distance between letters was checked. They counted and checked letters per page. They had specified columns and 37 letters per line. The middle letter of a scroll was verified against the master copy - and so on. If there was just one, tiny mistake the entire scroll was destroyed! (Muncaster, 2000, 23).

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Until just recently our oldest copy of the Old Testament was dated to 1,000 A.D. But, in 1947 archaeologists and scholars found and translated the Dead Sea Scrolls which contain all of the Old Testament books except Esther.

We have learned that the differences between our Old Testament 1,000 A.D. copy and the 250 B.C. copy are negligible. There are tiny variants in spelling (like adding an "e" to some words). Overall, the two copies are identical!

Hostile Prophecies

There are many prophecies within the Old Testament that are hostile to Jewish beliefs. Jewish scholars would change them if they could.

For example, hidden within the boring genealogies of Genesis 5 is the gospel message! Really… (Missler 1999, 75).

Translated these names mean the following:

Adam - Man
Seth - Appointed
Enosh - Mortal
Kenan - Sorrow
Mahalalel - The blessed God
Jared - Shall come down
Enoch - Teaching
Methuselah - His death shall bring
Lamech - The despairing
Noah - Rest, comfort

Now let's combine the translated name-meanings into a sentence:


Man…is Appointed…Mortal Sorrow. The Blessed God…Shall come down…Teaching…that His death shall bring…The despairing…Rest and comfort.

Whoa….Is that awesome or what!? Certainly, no rabbis would have conspired to hide the Gospel message in code within their own Torah!

Examples such as these are abundant in the Old Testament.


Written within the Old Testament text itself is God's statement that we can know the bible is His Word because He tells us what will happen in our futures. This is because only God exists outside our time domain.

I am God, and no one is like Me.
I declare the end
from the beginning,
and from long ago what is
not yet done,
saying: My plan
will take place,
And I will do all My will.

(Isaiah 46:9b-10, HCSB)

300 Old Testament Prophecies foretelling Christ

Did you know that there are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament pertaining to the Messiah's life and death? These are all provably written hundreds of years before Christ.

Please note that the odds of just 48 of these 300 prophecies coming true is one in 10 to the 157th. power - like foretelling 22 lotteries in a row! (Muncaster 2000, 39).

Daniel's Prophecy

One of the most astounding is Daniel's famous prophecy foretelling the exact date of the Messiah's appearance on earth. His existence would be exactly 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25).

History tells us that Artaxerxes gave this specific decree on March 14, 445 B.C. Counting from this date forward brings us to April 6, A.D. 32!

Remember that this prophecy was written 490 years before Christ's existence. Jesus' ministry began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesare (Luke 3:1), whose reign began in A.D. 14. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, confirms the Sunday before Passover to be April 6 in 32 A.D.

Don't forget that we know for sure the book of Daniel was written hundreds of years before Christ because of the dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls which include Daniel.

Furthermore, don't forget the other 299 prophecies detailing the birth, life and death of the Messiah in astonishing specificity.

2600 Prophecies

In addition, there are over 2600 prophecies in the Bible and over 2,000 of them have come true already. Some of the unfulfilled prophecies are forming right before our eyes - prophecies about Israel, the E.U., Russia, Iran, China and other modern nations.

In fact, we already know the last chapter concerning planet earth. We know how it will end. We don't need to hear theories from psychics, Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, the Mayans or the Hopi Indians.


While the Bible isn't a science textbook, its science statements are accurate nevertheless.

Round Earth suspended in Space

For example, when ancient cultures said the earth is carried on the back of a turtle or on the shoulders of Atlas, the bible claimed the earth is round and hung upon nothing (Isaiah 40:22, Job 26:7).

Sun Rotates the Galaxy

The Bible says our sun makes a circuit around the "heavens" or galaxy. We find this in Psalm 19:6.

There are hundreds of accurate, scientific statements like these in the bible. Even many of the most up-to-date physicists verify the accuracy of Creationism, the Big Bang theory, the existence of other universes or worlds, and other facts in the Bible.

So if PBS documentary "scholars" wish to fuss over the Bible's origins and which tribe really believed in a monotheistic God, let them!

The Bible's internal proofs of its extraterrestrial origins are so overwhelming these things take on less and less importance.

Always be Ready

Always be ready to give an answer for the hope within you (1 Peter 3:15). But, let the burden of proof be upon those skeptics who defy all odds when they claim there is no God and the bible is an ordinary book!

Sources&Suggested Reading:

Cornish, Rick. 2005. 5 Minute apologist. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Free, Joseph and Howard Vos. 1969. Archaeology and Bible history. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

McDowell, Josh. 1999. The new evidence that demands a verdict. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Missler, Chuck. 1999. Cosmic codes. Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House.

—-2002. Learn the Bible in 24 hours. Nashville, TN: Nelson.

Muncaster, Ralph. 2004. Examine the evidence. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

—- 2000. Is the Bible really a message from God? Eugene, OR: Harvest House.

Shanks, Hershel. 1993. Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls. NY: Vintage.

Authors Valorie Mays Emilio holds an MA in history from UCLA specialing in Christian origins. Ken received his BS from CSULB and an MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University.

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