A Review of the History Channel's "Mysteries of the Bible: The Execution of Jesus"
In Mysteries of the Bible: the Execution of Jesus, (viewed with permission for extra credit by Dr. Armstrong) The History Channel explores the biblical account of the last days of Jesus. The film makes its allegiances pretty clear in the first few moments, when the opening historian claims that He doesn’t believe Jesus said He was God or the Son of God. Then why the film? Clearly, as one of history’s most controversial accounts it demands the attention of any historian worth his salt.
The film points out that “not one word about Jesus was written during His lifetime.” Their intention seems to be that they must cast a negative pall on the rest of the information they will provide throughout the rest of the film. Then, they proceed to give various accounts from Jesus’ life. Their analysis of the information is less objective (as true history should be) and more subjective (as true history should not be) including phrases like “and that is what it meant to me.” Ironic, because when they explain what the Jesus Seminar is and what it’s about, they speak of the importance of viewing Jesus’ life through a political/historical lens. They cannot have it both ways, but alas, they will try.
I thought it was interesting to get a look at the death of Jesus from the other side of their secular glasses. Because I was raised in the church and all but “born in the baptismal” I have never had the opportunity to view my faith from the outside until recently. This film is an excellent example. They claim that the gospel writers “took poetic license” and then cite the fallibility of Jesus’ mock trial as an example for the stupidity of Jesus’ condemnation to death. The truth is so obvious before their eyes, and yet they miss it completely! Naturally the trial was illegal. That is the point!
Their attitude towards the Bible’s truthfulness can be demonstrated in their explanation of the Via Dolorosa: “As with most Christian holy sites, conjecture, faith and sometimes science combine to support the possibility of their authenticity. What is important though is that two thousand years ago, Jesus could have come this way.” The possibility that Jesus could have done something to them, seems enough to explain the human fascination with Jesus’ last days and hours. The information they present is nothing new. It is simply watered down.
This film presents an interesting, but not unique perspective on Jesus’ trial and subsequent death. Their take is the age old one: “Appreciate Jesus if you must, but for goodness’ sake, don’t take Him seriously.” Unlike the History Channel’s other accounts, this film takes a stronger stand against the veracity of the historical Jesus. In order to disprove the Scripture, they zero in on its most important account: the life, death and resurrection of the One Who makes salvation possible for those who believe. They call Him a “peasant” and even a “preacher,” but they refuse to call Him “Lord.”