Word on the street (or the blogosphere) regarding an upcoming PBS show has a few Christians up in arms.
The two-hour NOVA program titled “The Bible’s Buried Secrets,” slated to air on November 18, was featured in an Orlando Sentinel story based on a film clip and panel discussion during the Television Critics Association’s summer tour in Los Angeles. Sentinel TV critic Hal Boedeker wrote that the documentary “is likely to cause a furor” as it “challenges long-held beliefs. Abraham, Sarah and their offspring probably didn’t exist, says Carol Meyers, a religion professor at Duke University.”1
This news was re-posted by several bloggers, and emails about the show flooded PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler’s inbox. His response: “I see PBS programs the same way that viewers see them: when they are broadcast. I don’t write about them before they air, and when I do it is based on observations by viewers who have actually seen the program.”2
Valid criticism is based on knowledge and discernment, not unsupported speculation. However, PBS—and especially NOVA—has been known for portraying bias and partial truths in some of its past programming,3, 4 so suspicions regarding its take on biblical history may prove to be well-founded. But until the documentary actually airs, there is little that can be said about the information it presents and how it is portrayed. Viewers are encouraged to wait and see, and to always critically examine the evidence for the claims that are presented.
- Boedeker, H. Holy Moses! PBS documentary suggests Exodus not real. Orlando Sentinel. Posted on OrlandoSentinel.com July 21, 2008, accessed August 4, 2008.
- Getler, M. Ombudsman’s Mailbag. Posted on PBS.org August 1, 2008, accessed August 4, 2008.
- Cumming, K. B. 2001. Review of the PBS “Evolution” Series. Acts & Facts. 30 (12).
- Dao, C. PBS’ “Judgment Day” Is a Misjudgment. Posted on ICR.org November 21, 2007, accessed August 5, 2008.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor.
Article posted on August 7, 2008.