History Channel's "Banned From the Bible"

Has anyone watched this two part series from the History Channel? I find it interesting, but I don't know if all of it is true. Is there any way to disprove some of the things that are mentioned in the program (for example: Secret Mark)?

[quote="CatholicZ09, post:1, topic:205723"]
Has anyone watched this two part series from the History Channel. I found it interesting, but I don't know if all of it is true. Is there any way to disprove some of the things that are mentioned in the program (for example: Secret Mark)?

[/quote]

I have not watched this program. As for the Heresy Channel, I prefer to watch their offerings about American History, and steer clear of their sensationalized anti-Christian programming.

LOL, great name. . .but they don't really get the American history offerings right either. (Of course, being over 50 I've actually lived through some of the history and I remember what was actually said and done etc. then, which in more than one of the channel's offerings isn't accurately presented.) It gets a little depressing after a while.

And the whole title makes it look as though there was all sorts of 'real stuff' out there that was 'banned' by the nefarious people who 'corrupted Christianity'. . .a total misunderstanding of the Bible canon as well.

Rather sad. . .welcome to the contemporary society's version of Rome's "Bread and Circuses" just prior to the Fall . . .

If they sayt he Chruch compiled the bible allowing some books and rejecting others then it is basicly right, the Church existed before the bible and gave us the bible it didn’t come down on a cloud from heaven.

[quote="CatholicZ09, post:1, topic:205723"]
Has anyone watched this two part series from the History Channel? I find it interesting, but I don't know if all of it is true. Is there any way to disprove some of the things that are mentioned in the program (for example: Secret Mark)?

[/quote]

I saw some of it today, I thought it was rather interesting.
As to whether it's true or not, according to the Roman Catholic church, I'd say probably not;0)
I think some of what they were discussing was the Dead Sea scrolls? I fell asleep halfway through it...haha.
Guess that's what I get for swimming laps for an hour after not swimming forever and a day:D

I always watch the History Channel when I want a good laugh.
90% of the "history" is pure ****.
The 'Hitler Channel' is full of nothing but junk history.

I watched a bit of that today too. It involved a lot of eye-rolling.

It seemed like they never spent much time explaining how and where and why these documents were discovered. Like on the secret Gospel of Mark--some guy supposedly found it in a library, as the binding of another book, and it was written in pretty late Greek, which they assume is a copy of a much older letter, that contained quoted fragments of said secret gospels. No one else ever saw it (only photographs), and now it's disappeared, and no one knows where or why. Sounds fishy to me.

The explanation for the Gospel of Judas was even worse. "It surfaced on the market in the 80's but the asking bid wasn't met. Then it surfaced again long enough for these people from Stanford to look at it." Okay . . . who found it? Where?

Maybe that's just History Channel shoddiness, but I wasn't particularly convinced.

[quote="CatholicZ09, post:1, topic:205723"]
Has anyone watched this two part series from the History Channel? I find it interesting, but I don't know if all of it is true. Is there any way to disprove some of the things that are mentioned in the program (for example: Secret Mark)?

[/quote]

I have seen enough of these sorts of shows that I can weigh in without having seen it. It's a documentary about Bible-like works that were never seriously considered part of the Bible by anyone whose opinion mattered ... am I right? And if so, then is this the show? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banned_from_the_Bible_II If so, then I put this in the same category as hyped prime-time network newsmagazine scare stories such as "Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Medicine Cabinet: What You Don't Know Can Kill Your Children and Make Your Dog Puke" that they run teasers for at every commercial break all hour long and then at the very end of the show it turns out to be just a warning about expired antacid tablets. I recommend googling the names of each of the documents mentioned in the show and finding out for yourself. If this is the show I linked above, then here is the list of documents:

[LIST=1]
*]The Testament of Solomon
*]The Zohar (The Book of Splendor)
*]The Alphabet of Ben-Sira
*]Joseph and Aseneth
*]The Septuagint
*]Bel and the Dragon
*]The Acts of Peter
*]The Acts of Paul and Thecla
*]Mar Saba letter and The Secret Gospel of Mark
*]The Gospel of Judas
[/LIST]
Off the top of my head I don't know anything about most of these. But the Septuagint is just an ancient translation of the Old Testament into Hebrew that has been used since before Jesus' time and still is today. Bel and the Dragon is just Daniel 14, rejected by Jews and Protestants. As for the rest: as we are fond of saying in the education world, the rest is left for the student as an exercise ;-)

The history channel has very little to do with actual historical information. It's a catchy name but most of what is on this channel should be classified as fiction with some historical references. Their agenda is very liberal and anti-Christian just like the "Public Broadcasting System" - our tax dollars at work undermining morality.

[quote="Advocatus_Fidei, post:4, topic:205723"]
If they sayt he Chruch compiled the bible allowing some books and rejecting others then it is basicly right, the Church existed before the bible and gave us the bible it didn't come down on a cloud from heaven.

[/quote]

You mean it didn't!? :eek:

All this time I thought that the Bible actually contained a 'secret' page, viewable only if you write the appropriate password at the back cover on 3:01:01 PM during the 13th day of a given month if it falls on a Wednesday, on a leap year (oh yeah, only hardcover Bibles would work - no leathers or softcovers, sorry) after doing a three-lap run thirty-three-and-fifty-nine minutes after eating three fish-matzo sandwiches with a cup of fresh Jerusalem wine. And by the way, the Bible needs to be an original 1611 edition KJV. ;)

And it came to pass, that the Lord Jesus and his disciples were walking along the sea of Galilee. And they asked Him, saying: "Lord, what shall we do when thou art taken from us?" And He spake unto them, saying, "Fear ye not, and trust the Lord your God." And straightaway He raiseth His arms up to heaven in thanksgiving and saith unto His Father, "Abba, Father, help Thou these poor followers of mine, and give Thou unto them that precious book of Thine which they shall solely need for their justification." And no sooner had He said thus, there came a book from the heaven and dropped unto the hands of the Lord. And lo, the front and the back of the book is exceeding red as unto blood, being covered with skins, and is exceeding thick as a stone, and it was written in letters of black ink, and on the front of it was graven thus in letters of gold: THE HOLIE BIBLE, KYNGE JAMES VERSION.

[quote="Moscati, post:7, topic:205723"]
I watched a bit of that today too. It involved a lot of eye-rolling.

It seemed like they never spent much time explaining how and where and why these documents were discovered. Like on the secret Gospel of Mark--some guy supposedly found it in a library, as the binding of another book, and it was written in pretty late Greek, which they assume is a copy of a much older letter, that contained quoted fragments of said secret gospels. No one else ever saw it (only photographs), and now it's disappeared, and no one knows where or why. Sounds fishy to me.

[/quote]

About the Mar Saba letter in a nutshell:

[LIST=1]*]Morton Smith, professor of ancient history at Columbia University, supposedly found the fragment near Jerusalem, in the library of the Mar Saba Monastery in the summer of 1958, or so he claims.
*]He discovered the text of the letter handwritten into the endpapers of Isaac Vossius' 1646 printed edition of the works of Ignatius of Antioch. Paleographers (working from Smith's photographs) have assigned dates from the late 17th to the early 19th centuries.
*]He published the findings in 1973, writing a second book for the popular audience in 1974.
*]Smith's books reproduced black-and-white photographs he claimed to have taken at the time of the discovery.
*]In 1977 the volume containing the manuscript was taken to the library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem. That same year, the manuscript pages were removed from the bound volume by the librarian Kallistos Dourvas, to be photographed and kept separately. The photos were published in 2000.
*]In 1976 a group of four scholars - Professors David Flusser and Shlomo Pines, both of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Archimandrite Meliton of the Patriarchate; and Gedaliahu A.G. Stroumsa, at the time a Harvard graduate student - visited the monastery, and viewed the manuscript. This visit remained unknown until 2003 when Stroumsa published an account of the visit.
*]Subsequent attempts by scholars to view the manuscript have been unsuccessful.[/LIST]

About the letter itself:

[LIST=1]]It claims to be a letter from Clement of Alexandria to a certain *Theodoros (Theodore).
]Clement begins by commending Theodoros' actions against the gnostic sect known as the Carpocratians.
*]Clement then turns to address questions posed by Theodoros regarding the Gospel of Mark, a secret variant of which the Carpocratians claim to have. Clement admits to knowledge of a second, "*more spiritual
" version of the gospel, written by Mark for "those being perfected," which was carefully guarded by the Alexandrian church after his (Mark's) death to the point that it is "read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries."
*]Clement asserts that the version promoted by the Carpocratians is not an accurate representation of this mystical version of Mark, since they have corrupted the original (he claims that Carpocrates managed to convince a presbyter in Alexandria to hand him a copy of the text) with their own false additions, which Clements claims is the source of Carpocratian teachings.
*]To illustrate this, two ostensibly genuine excerpts from the 'real' secret Gospel are supplied.
*]The letter ends abruptly as Clement begins to explain these passages.[/LIST]

For the benefit of everyone, here's the whole Mar Saba letter (translation):

  • From the letters of the most holy Clement, of the Stromata.

To Theodoros.

You did well in silencing the unspeakable teachings of the Carpocratians, for these are the "wandering stars" (Jude 1:13) that had been prophesied, who wander from the narrow road of the commandments into an endless abyss, deceived by the fleshly and bodily sins. For having been puffed up of their knowledge - as they say - "of the depths of Satan," (Revelation 2:24) they do not know that they are throwing themselves down into "the blackness of darkness" (Jude 1:13) of lies. And having boasted that they are free, they have become bondservants of base desires. Such are to be opposed in all ways and altogether. Because even if they say something true, still the lover of the truth should not agree with them, for not all true things are truth, nor should that truth which merely seems true according to human opinions be preferred to the true truth, that according to the faith. Now, concerning their babblings about the "God-breathed" (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16) Gospel according to Mark, some are wholly lies, while others, even if partly true, nevertheless are not reported truly. For the true things being mixed with inventions are debased so that, as the saying goes, "even the salt has become tasteless" (cf. Matthew 5:13).

As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the acts of the Lord, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the mystical ones, but picking the things he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being catechized. Then when Peter was martyred, Mark came to Alexandria, bringing both his own knowledge and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his first book the things suitable about knowledge for those who are making progress. Thus he arranged a more spiritual gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he did not reveal the things which are not to be uttered. He did not write out the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others, and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the adyton of the truth which is veiled seven times. Thus he prepared them - in my opinion - not ungrudgingly or unguardedly. And dying, he left his writing to the church in Alexandria, where even now it is still extremely carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.

However, since the polluted demons are always devising destruction for the race of man, Carpocrates, taught by them and using their deceptive arts, so enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got from him a copy of the mystical gospel, which he both interpreted according to his blasphemous and fleshly authority and, moreover, defiled, mixing with the most spotless and holy words the most shameless lies. From this mixture is derived the teaching of the Carpocratians. To them, therefore - as I said above - one must never give way. Also, when they put forward their falsifications, one should not concede that the mystical gospel is by Mark, but should deny it even on oath, for not all truth are to be said to everyone. For this reason, the wisdom of God through Solomon gives a message, "Answer a fool from his folly" (cf. Proverbs 26:5), teaching that from those whose minds are blinded the light of the truth should be concealed. Again it says, "From him who has not, it will be taken away," and, "Let the fool go in darkness."

(continued)

But we are the "sons of light" (John 12:36) who have been illuminated by "the dawn from on high" (Luke 1:78) of the Spirit of the Lord. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is," it says, "there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17), for "to the pure, all things are pure" (Titus 1:15). Therefore to you I will not hesitate to answer the questions you have asked, refuting the falsifications by the very words of the gospel. For example, after "They were in the road, going up to Jerusalem," and what follows, until "After three days He will arise," (Mark 10:32-34) it takes up according to the text:

[INDENT]And they come to Bethania, and a woman was there, whose brother had died. And coming, she fell down before Jesus and says to Him, "*Son of David, have mercy on me!" but the disciples rebuked her. And becoming angry* (orgistheis; cf. some MSS variants of Mark 1:41), Jesus went with her to the garden where the tomb was. And immediately was heard from the tomb a great voice, and going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And going in immediately where the young man was, He stretched out a hand and raised him up, holding his hand. Now the young man looked at Him and loved (egapēsen, related to agapē) Him, and began to beseech Him that He might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the young man, for he was rich; and after six days Jesus commanded him, and in the evening the youth comes to Him, having put a *sindon around [his] naked body; and he remained with Him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God (cf. Mark 4:11). And arising from there, He returned to the other side of the Jordan.*

After these things, this follows, "And James and John come to Him," (Mark 10:35) and all that section. But the "naked man with naked man" and the other things which you wrote about are not found. And after, "And He comes into Jericho," it adds only:

And there were the sister of the young man whom Jesus loved (ēgapa), and his mother, and Salome, and Jesus did not receive them.

But the many other things about which you wrote both seem to be and are lies. Now the true explanation and that which accords with the true philosophy[/INDENT]

The text breaks off here, suggesting that whoever copied the Mar Saba letter on the back of that book (let's suppose that it's genuine for the moment) was himself working with an incomplete text.

[quote="Apollos, post:8, topic:205723"]
[LIST=1]
*]The Testament of Solomon
*]The Zohar (The Book of Splendor)
*]The Alphabet of Ben-Sira
*]Joseph and Aseneth
*]The Septuagint
*]Bel and the Dragon
*]The Acts of Peter
*]The Acts of Paul and Thecla
*]Mar Saba letter and The Secret Gospel of Mark
*]The Gospel of Judas
[/LIST]

[/quote]

Let's do some of the more obscure ones first. :)

Testament of Solomon: (translation here) A pseudepigraphical work probably of Christian origin, the authorship of which is ascribed to King Solomon but which most likely dates from between the 1st-5th centuries AD. The main story is about how King Solomon was enabled to build the Temple by controlling various demons by means of a signet ring entrusted to him by the angel Michael, ending tragically with his fall from grace by worshipping false gods and a warning not to imitate this final folly of his. In a sense, this work belongs well into the late Jewish tradition which depicts Solomon as an exorcist and wonder-worker of sorts who could subdue evil spirits to his will.

Zohar: (partial translations here and here) The foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah and scriptural interpretations as well as material on theosophic theology, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology. Mostly written in what has been described as an exalted, eccentric style of Aramaic, it first appeared in Spain in the 13th century, and was published by a Jewish writer named Moses de León. De León ascribed the work to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (2nd century AD), who according to Jewish legend, hid in a cave for thirteen years studying the Torah and was then inspired by the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. The traditional majority view in religious Judaism has been that the teachings of Kabbalah were revealed by God to Biblical figures such as Abraham and Moses and were then transmitted orally (hence it is a part of the Oral Torah) until its redaction by Rabbi Shimon, but modern academic analysis of the Zohar, such as that by the 20th century religious historian Gershom Scholem, has theorized that De León was the actual author.

The Alphabet of Ben-Sira: An anonymous medieval (ca. AD 700-1000) text, attributed to Yehoshua ben-Sira (whom many Catholics here might recognize as the author of Sirach ;)). It is a compilation of two lists of proverbs, 22 in Aramaic and 22 in Hebrew, both arranged as alphabetic acrostics. Each proverb is followed by an Haggadic commentary. The work has been characterized as satirical, and it contains references to rather low topics such as masturbation, incest and flatulence. The text has been translated into Latin, Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, French and German.

Joseph and Aseneth/Asenath: (translation here) An apocryphal expansion of the Book of Genesis's account of the patriarch Joseph's marriage to Asenath. The earliest version is in Syriac and dates from the 6th century AD. Most modern scholarship treats it as a Jewish work dating some time from 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD. Battifol (who produced the first critical edition) and, more recently, Kraemer have argued that it was originally a Christian work, dating from the 4th or 5th centuries. Kraemer suggests connections with works like the Acts of Thomas. Early versions exist today in Syriac, Slavonic, Armenian and Latin – but there is general consensus that it was originally composed in Greek. The extant manuscripts give us two versions of the work, a short recension and a long recension. There has been much scholarly debate as to which is earlier.

[quote="CatholicZ09, post:1, topic:205723"]
Has anyone watched this two part series from the History Channel? I find it interesting, but I don't know if all of it is true. Is there any way to disprove some of the things that are mentioned in the program (for example: Secret Mark)?

[/quote]

There's some controversy as to whether Secret Mark is even an ancient manuscript--some claim that it's a modern forgery. If it is ancient, that doesn't mean that it was originally part of Mark--it is far, far more likely that it's a later version created by Gnostics.

The only one of the non-canonical Gospels that has any reasonable likelihood of having any authenticity is the "Gospel of Thomas." Not that I'm saying it's authentic--only that there are good scholars who take it somewhat seriously.

Edwin

The Acts of Peter are significant in one way that is truly relevant to Church tradition. Namely it is the first place where Peter's upside down crucifixion is mentioned. Of course, it is apocryphal but it also dismisses gnosticism so I'd think it to be harmless to read. Same goes for Paul and Thecla, which is a bit strange. It's primarily concerned with Paul professing asceticism and virginity, all the while women are captivated by what he says. Beyond that, it too is simple apocrypha and probably captures a lot of Paul's legacy in the 200s, when it was likely written.

The Gospel of Judas is gnostic rubbish. Same with the Gospel of Thomas.

[quote="Contarini, post:15, topic:205723"]
There's some controversy as to whether Secret Mark is even an ancient manuscript--some claim that it's a modern forgery. If it is ancient, that doesn't mean that it was originally part of Mark--it is far, far more likely that it's a later version created by Gnostics.

[/quote]

Which puts us into a dilemma. Supposing for a moment that the Mar Saba Letter is genuine, why would Clement of Alexandria, or at least, the author writing under Clement's name, damn the Carpocratians - a gnostic sect! - up and down using a 'gnostic' work?

Applying Clement's logic here, we Christians are true 'gnostics' (those who know) since we have attained the deeper teaching of the Logos. And if the work is genuine, that might be so as well, IMHO ;)

And if we believe the story, why would Carpocrates go to all the trouble of obtaining a gnostic gospel, only to corrupt it further, enabling 'Clement' to denounce his version as fake?

The only one of the non-canonical Gospels that has any reasonable likelihood of having any authenticity is the "Gospel of Thomas." Not that I'm saying it's authentic--only that there are good scholars who take it somewhat seriously.

Edwin

They take Thomas seriously mostly because it seems to support their (or at least, many of them) idea of how the elusive and hypothetical Q Document would have been like: some argue that a collection of sayings, without a cohesive narrative tying the sayings together, would have been one of the earliest forms in which material about Jesus was handed down, and Thomas seems to fit the bill - it is mostly just a bunch of 'Jesus said'-type quotes, often without further elaboration or commentary.

[quote="The_Bucket, post:16, topic:205723"]
The Acts of Peter are significant in one way that is truly relevant to Church tradition. Namely it is the first place where Peter's upside down crucifixion is mentioned.

[/quote]

And it's also the first to mention the Quo Vadis incident:

And as they considered these things, Xanthippe took knowledge of the counsel of her husband with Agrippa, and sent and showed Peter, that he might depart from Rome. And the rest of the brethren, together with Marcellus, besought him to depart. But Peter said unto them: Shall we be runaways, brethren? and they said to him: Nay, but that thou mayest yet be able to serve the Lord. And he obeyed the brethren's voice and went forth alone, saying: Let none of you come forth with me, but I will go forth alone, having changed the fashion of mine apparel. And as he went forth of the city, he saw the Lord entering into Rome. And when he saw him, he said: Lord, whither goest thou thus (or here)? And the Lord said unto him: I go into Rome to be crucified. And Peter said unto him: Lord, art thou (being) crucified again? He said unto him: Yea, Peter, I am (being) crucified again. And Peter came to himself: and having beheld the Lord ascending up into heaven, he returned to Rome, rejoicing, and glorifying the Lord, for that he said: I am being crucified: the which was about to befall Peter.

The Gospel of Judas is gnostic rubbish. Same with the Gospel of Thomas.

Actually, I would differentiate a bit between Judas and Thomas. While Thomas is found in a cache of gnostic works - and could be read in a gnostic lens - it is still not totally 'gnostic' in my opinion, since it lacks any overt, full-blown references to the gnostic worldview and, as mentioned, is overall more like some sort of a 'The Best of Jesus' compilation, which makes it unique among every known gospel, canonical or otherwise. Coupled with the fact that gnostics can sometimes appropriate other works of literature such as the canonical Gospels, St. Paul, Plato or even Homer in support of their beliefs, it could also be likely that this - IMHO - could have been originally a 'neutral' work that was eventually taken (and edited?) by a certain gnostic sect.

Now Judas is a totally different creature. It is the archetypal gnostic apocryphal gospel: where Jesus takes one of His disciples aside (in a few works, He might hand it over to a larger group of people) to hand the secret teaching to him/her 'apart from the others', which often involves Guru Jesus speaking in often long, convoluted discourses usually filled to the brim with nigh-incomprehensible jargon - at least for us modern readers - with a sprinkling of references to the mythology of whatever group happened to pen the book, and perhaps a stab or two at the beliefs of orthodox Christianity.

The History Channel is nothing of the sort when it comes to christianity.

What ALL these revisionist scholars seem to miss is a sense of time and perspective. 200 years is a LONG time, even if just a drop in the history of christianity. When these scholars attempt to give gospel level weight to writings that cannot be dated earlier than 200 or so, they make fools of themselves.

Imagine if America lasts 2,000 years and future scholars uncover a copy of the movie "National Treasure." Will they give credence to the hypothesis that Jefferson, Washington et all hid a massive trove of gold and treasure? I sure hope not!

Religious kooks are NOT a new phenomenon. People attempted to hijack christianity to their own personal agenda right back to biblical times itself (Acts has examples). The fact that a kook wrote something 1,700 years ago does not reduce its kookiness.

[quote="manualman, post:19, topic:205723"]
The History Channel is nothing of the sort when it comes to christianity.

[/quote]

Or premodern history generally, in my opinion.

Edwin

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