The news cycle is loud, but we need to hear those who can’t shout
CNN may not be a reliable source for theological insight, yet the network’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery could make for interesting viewing. Academic voices from Duke University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and the University of Notre Dame join with rabbis, bishops, authors, and journalists in the second season of this documentary series about Jesus. Re-enactments keep the action moving, although actors depict both Biblical and extra-Biblical events (such as those described by the Jewish historian Josephus) side by side, which is sometimes confusing.
The series doesn’t seem intended to prove or disprove the existence of Jesus or the major events of His life. But it does highlight academic skepticism of Biblical inerrancy. For example, one expert compares the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate to “fictional courtroom dramas.” His reasoning: The Gospel writers downplayed the role of the Romans (especially Pilate) in their crucifixion accounts because of the political climate they lived in.
In another episode, experts suggest Lazarus, not the Apostle John, was “the disciple Jesus loved” present at the Last Supper and the only male disciple present at the foot of the cross. It’s an interesting (if speculative) theory since, after all, Lazarus above anyone would have known that death doesn’t mark the end of the story.
The best parts of Finding Jesus are the in-depth looks at recent archaeological discoveries, such as the possible discovery of the site of Herod’s palace. Other portions, focusing heavily on the authenticity of certain relics, may bore non-Orthodox audiences. Still, it’s exciting to hear the words “I am the resurrection and the life” on one of the biggest news outlets in the world.