National Geographic Jesus and the origins of Christianity What a disappointment

  I spend an inordinate amount of time studying the origins of Christianities. I saw a National Geographic titled, Jesus and the origins of Christianity written by Jean-Pierre Isbouts. I figured it would be a brief overview of the origins of Christianity and hoped that it would be somewhat accurate considering it was published by National Geographic.

   It was indeed a brief overview, but what surprised me was it completely lacked objectivity. It was obviously written by a bias Christian for bias Christians.  As an amateur Christian historian I have learned there seems to be two types of history. Common history, that which is not necessary factually accurate and scholarly history that at least tries to be. 

  To give an example everyone has heard the story about George Washington the tree and "I cannot tell a lie". This story is common history.  Any scholar who studies George Washington will tell you the story was made up by a preacher. Ironically he told a lie to teach people not to lie.

 This "book" in magazine form is common knowledge that completely ignores the latest scholarship, archaeology, history etc.  If you want to know the story Christians are taught to believe in mainstream Christianity it is a perfect depiction of "the story".

  It gets worse it glosses over anything that could be considered negative about the religion.

  It gets worse than that. There are many places in which it very subtlety slips in false notions. It speaks of scholars and without stating it suggests Christianity created the education system. Randomly when speaking of the age of discovery it shows a picture of a sextant as if to suggest Christianity made this. 

  It goes on and on. One would believe nothing bad has occurred in Christianity. It does mention the crusades and the Inquisition but only as a push back to Islam, and only then in a couple of sentences that doesn't explain what happened. In short no matter how tempted even just for educational purposes, waste your money on this book.

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Thank you for bringing this up. I will want to check out the issue myself now. If it's as biased as you say, they should be called on it publicly. In my opinion instead of just refusing to buy it, let them and everyone know that they have damaged their own credibility.

  One must consider that I spend about three hours a day studying the origins of Christianity. Main stream Christianity will not accept that Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus for example. Often what "everyone" thinks is true becomes reality even if it is not true. Galileo in 1632 went to trial before the Inquisition. In 1992 Pope John Paul finally expressed regret for the churches handling of the affair.

Much of the defense will be "the Bible says so, and tradition says, or scholars agree that.."

It does not matter what science says. Another defense will be we didn't suggest Christians made education or science. This is true they didn't openly suggest these things. To the average christian reader however, it will certainly be taken for granted subconsciously. Mainstream Christianity isn't even aware of its actual history. I just had to educate a Reverend who went to seminary last week about the real beginning of the Christian movement after 70 C.E. when the temple was destroyed. 

CU, I expect better than this from NG. I hope the letters editor gets plenty of mail saying other readers expect better.

I imagine they may get lots of criticism from all three of us oddball atheist, amateur Christian scholars! I don't believe real scholars such as Bart Ehrman or Elaine Pagels will bother. Interestingly the book name drops both of them and fails to indicate any contributions or quote either of them once. 

I'm going to have to keep this on my wish list. German scholarship in the area of Christianity is among the best. In fact German is known as one of the scholarship languages as biblical textual criticism originated in Germany.  Unfortunately, this series of books is adjust to be translated into English.

There are many excellent books available on the history of Christianities. I really don't recommend them for the average reader as they tend to make watching paint dry on a humid day a very exciting prospect!  The history of God by Karen Armstrong is however an excellent very readable book that is inclusive and covers much more than Christianity.

An interesting link, Plinius. Thanx. 

Browsing the summaries of the first four chapters reminded me of a tactic RC nuns and priests had used and of my reactions to it.

When I asked questions of nuns they told me to read more and I soon realized that they would have me reading about Catholicism for most of my life. I ignored them.

The priests, better educated in church history than the nuns, were intellectual bullies and I got pissed at them

Thirty years after I quit Catholicism, on jury duty with a young priest, I got revenge. One day at lunch I told him I had been a Catholic and he tried to bully me, saying life without Catholicism was "absurd" (a fancy word for "without meaning").  I told him that giving my life meaning was my task. He clammed up and even looked a bit frightened.

What fun that was. For weeks I crowed that I had at last gotten revenge for all the bullying that priests had done when I was a kid. 

I wish I could say I was surprised about this, but I'm not.  My sense is that the last thing National Geographic wants to do is to piss off their audience by challenging them regarding the historicity of their favorite deity, or said deity's "son."  The protests, angry letters, and boycotts of sponsors would be as profligate as they would be ludicrous.

Honestly, I'd be curious to know if the work of Ehrman or Price or Carrier has ever made it onto a major network or cable venue, or if they are, as I suspect, far better attended on YouTube than they are on conventional media.

  Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, and Dominic Crossan have made it on some history channel specials. The history channel does make some attempts to look at early Christian writings that did not make it into the biblical canon. Such as stories of Lilith etc. They interview scholars and chop up two or three sentences to qualify their storyline. It is very much a brief overview ment for amviewing audience, but there is at least an attempt to address unknown historical Christianity. These specials are usually run around Easter. I do not remember Price or Carrier. Their views are probably too radical for their audience as the history channel is also profit oriented. I must commend their efforts to show little known history. National Geographic made no attempt at even conveying actual history. Actually to be more fair it was more of what they left out. Like the guys all having SEX with the strippers at the bachelor party.

 Thank you, Daniel. It makes much more since now evidently Murdoch proffered a religious test for everyone coming into the country with the exception of "proven Christians". There was evidently an agenda here. Article is called Rupert Murdoch endorses religious test for refugees, calls for"special exception for Christians" it's on the mediamatters for America website. Tried to post link can't figure out how to do it on my new tablet.

I'm not surprised. It seems that National Geographic is into the "make money" theme just like everybody else. Not much has anything to do with being factual any longer. People make movies like "God Is Not Dead" and the faithful think it is an anthem and testimony to their god. In reality it was something that came along because film makers read into the times at hand. This film and any similar films like it are all about making money.

Books, films, and even universities are all much like Washington, the tree, and the lie.

No joke. We have fake universities today that go to great pains investigating everything and they all seem very logical. Their "logic" ends when they bring you right back to biblical Genesis and tell you that "god did it." A world of opinions and no evidence. If god was real you would think there would be evidence. The Gospels are full of evidence but there is no evidence for the reality of the Gospels. Quite the opposite. One would think a living god would have that all worked out.

The best we can hope for is that real logic is never supplanted with this fake nonsense.I might close with the appearing new idea today that reality is exactly what you want it to be. Not true, but many seem to be following this idea.

Do you remember the sale of National Geographic a while back? Rupert Murdoch. Any questions?




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