PBS Nova Series Declares Bill Maher Right: Old Testament Just a 'Book of Jewish Fairy Tales'

Perhaps the PBS Nova producers should have consulted the Naked Archaeologist or The Bible as History before making a show whose purpose is to debunk the Old Testament. Here is the description of the special two hour edition of Nova as reported by Reuters/Hollywood Reporter:

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Bill Maher, on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," frequently refers to the Old Testament of the Bible as the Book of Jewish Fairy Tales. The description might anger the pious and the fundamentalists, but guess what? Maher's close to the truth.

A visually stunning two-hour special edition of "Nova" examines decades of archaeological studies that contradict much of what is in the Bible. The entire Exodus story is debunked, as is the idea that the Israelites were monotheistic following the contract made between God and Abraham. It turns out idol worship was common through the reign of King David and right up to the Babylonian exile.

Is the Bible the word of God? Only if God dictated it to dozens, maybe hundreds, of different writers, each of whom wrote and modified stories using different patterns of language over a period of centuries.

To be sure, writer-producer-director Gary Glassman does not dismiss the Old Testament as a collection of fairy tales. He asserts that the stories, though provably false in many cases, were intended to give identity to the Israelites, a group likely made up of former Canaanites, nomads and runaway slaves. Also, the Bible provided the Israelites with a moral framework.

The special, narrated by Liev Schreiber, is not likely to sit well with those who believe that the Bible, despite its internal inconsistencies, should be interpreted literally. Then again, science and religion have had a long history of conflict until, ultimately, the former prevails.

Your humble correspondent is no Biblical scholar (unlike my DUmmie FUnnies co-conspirator, Charles Henrickson, who is a Lutheran pastor fluent in several ancient languages) but even I know that the Old Testament clearly shows that a ticked off Moses smashed the first set of the Ten Commandents (or Fifteen Commandments according to "History of the World Part I") after his flock regressed to idol worship of the golden calf during the time he climbed up Mt. Sinai. Perhaps my time frame is off but I do believe this occured after the contract between God and Abraham. 

In any event, what's with the latest wave of attempts to debunk the Bible? Recently we had Bill Maher's Religulous in movie theaters and now this attempt to prove the Bible historically incorrect by PBS's Nova. It's not that they are just trying to impartially analyze the Bible but they are taking positive glee in trying to prove it wrong. Of course, such an effort is "safe." One wonders if they would ever have the guts to attempt the same thing on the Koran.

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.