The National Geographic Channel is showing "The Secret Lives of Jesus" this week. I haven't seen it. I think it is on tonight at 9 p.m. I hope they show it again. I cannot figure out how to work my TV clicker let alone read the menus for where to find these channels. Presumably, ya'll are a great deal brighter than I am. So, if you find the National Geographic Channel, bring me word, so that I too, may worship it.
Anyway, an interesting show, this Secret Lives of Jesus. Here is the press release. It is based upon the non-canonical gospels. These were the gospels voted off orthodoxy's island. What amuses me most about all of this is that traditionalists get so upset about it. A reviewer on Fox News offered some hard to follow rant that somehow related this show, Muhammed, Rosie O'Donnell, and gays. He wrote:
"Why is it OK for a television network to air a special about the entirely suspect "secret lives of Jesus" based on "ancient documents recently discovered"? And just one week before Christmas?"
Why is it OK? Because not everyone thinks the way you do, that's why. Some people are interested in other views. And since this is America, and since we have free press, we can watch what we wish to watch. Obviously, he doesn't get it. These are ancient documents that speak about views of Jesus that were quite different from the story we inherited. They are part of our history.
A reviewer for Catholic Online wasn't impressed with Secret Lives either. At least this reviewer had an argument. This reviewer wrote:
"Despite its provocative title, however, the program – as with the Judas expose – provides no explosive revelations but merely rehashes the same old theological chestnuts refuted by the church over the centuries.As if Holy Mother Church has refuted everything that She doesn't like. The point of recently translated and published documents is not that they give new information about the historical Jesus (if there even was such a person), but they do offer new insights about the variety of Christian thought in the first several centuries. These documents do provide "explosive revelations" about the diversity of Christian belief and the early struggles of the Church.
I think Holy Mother Church and Her henchmen would better serve Her glorious cause by being a bit more open to what scholarship is providing and what people are interested in reading and watching. Mother's message of "Just say no" doesn't communicate well.
The threat to traditionalists, as I see it, is that this scholarship puts questions to the historicity of the canonical gospels. We start to wonder that if these other stories are fiction, then who is to say that Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John aren't works of fiction as well? Exactly. These canonical gospels are mostly fiction, too, just a different kind of fiction. This is an idea that traditionalists either deny or simply do not want their followers to entertain.
Secret Lives of Jesus is a visual dramatization of some of these other gospels. One is the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (not to be confused with the sayings gospel, The Gospel of Thomas) that tells stories of Jesus as a child. Here is a clip. Click on "Lives of Jesus." It may take a few seconds to load.
Here is another clip. Click on "The Birth." This clip is very good. It speaks about the situation for the authors of Matthew and Luke who write the birth narratives after the Jewish War.
Here is NGC's blog about Secret Lives. I personally think the National Geographic Channel does a good job. See for yourself!