If You Can’t Prove It, It’s Not History



I wrote recently about a very popular mini-series that’s being shown on The History Channel leading up to the Easter holiday: Jesus: His Life . I received a little blowback from some people even though overall I praised the show for it’s production value but stated that this should not be considered history. This is simply a retelling of a story, written by several anonymous authors, that weren’t witnesses to any of what they wrote about at the time. The main problem I had with the series, was that it was presented on a channel called History. There really isn’t any way that this could even remotely be called history, because there’s no historical basis for it at all.

Something I caused a little bit of a stir about was saying that the mini-series presented no dissent. I led up to that by mentioning that the contributors to the series, commenting between scenes, were all pastors, priests, or apologists of one kind or another.  Well, of course, I understand that the purpose was to present what is written about Jesus’ life, based on the synoptics. I think though it would have been a little more interesting to the general public had there been some commentary from scholars that had a different view of this story. I’m not saying equal time, but there are plenty of well known scholars and historians, popularly published, that may have more to add to the narrative than just repeating, almost verbatim, the four gospels.

I even gave a couple of examples myself that I never heard any of them mention which are obvious problems with the story of Jesus’ life. Still, the word dissent seemed to be focused upon. there was even one of the contributors that tweeted me directly:

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When I saw this, at first I thought he was disagreeing that in fact there were contributors that spoke about certain parts of the story that were in conflict, depending on which gospel was read, or that no evidence existed for the segment. Unless that happened in a few seconds that I missed, no, I never saw any dissent from the telling of the fairy tale.. It took me a minute or two to realize he was just mocking me. I didn’t think I needed to reply, and didn’t because no matter how I might interpret the tweet, it was vacuous.

My objection to this mini-series was really the title. When a show is titled “His Life”, it’s implied to the viewer that this is a true story, when it’s based upon nothing other than what people believe to be true. In the same way, I can believe the earth is flat, even though the preponderance of evidence is against what I choose to believe, so is it with the life of Jesus. I don’t personally have an issue with people believing whatever they want, it’s just that when there’s no evidence to support their belief, any semi-rational person might begin to examine that belief.

People are want to believe what they will, no matter the lack or enormity of the evidence. That’s okay. There have always been people this way and I think always will be those that will believe in something simply because they want it to  be true. Just don’t perpetrate a fraud on the general public making it appear that belief is fact.



3 thoughts on “If You Can’t Prove It, It’s Not History

  1. That sort of thing really doesn’t belong on the History Channel. Then again, much of what they show these days has little to do with history. I suppose that is because their numbers suggest that contemporary viewers prefer mindless entertainment to history.


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