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Peter Jennings Special

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  • John Whatley
    I m a lurker on this list. I m no scholar, but enjoy reading these discussions. I haven t seen any comment here lately about the upcoming Peter Jennings
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2000
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      I'm a lurker on this list.  I'm no scholar, but enjoy reading these discussions.  I haven't seen any comment here lately about the upcoming Peter Jennings special, "The Search for Jesus" tomorrow night (Monday June 26) at 8pm est on ABC.  I see that the A.P. writer below is not a fan of the JS, or the show.  Here are some of his comments from his pre-broadcast review.
       
      By RICHARD N. OSTLING - The Associated Press
      Date: 06/24/00 22:15
      New York

      One pitfall is that "Search" indiscriminately mingles folkways (did Mary really sit on this rock?) with essentials (did Jesus have a Last Supper and what did it mean?).

      More importantly, ABC's implicit plot line pits the touching faith in the Gospels among common folk in Bethlehem, Nazareth or Alexandria, La., against the experts, who supposedly know better. That's a hugely distorted picture.

      But, as the old saying goes, a reporter is only as good as his sources. In Jennings' lopsided lineup, the key talking heads consist of five American liberals, a middle-roader in Israel and a lone traditionalist from England.

      Jennings seems to have discovered none of the estimable moderate and conservative scholars in America. And even on the liberal side, the show doesn't visit the blueblood campuses where biblical history is being undermined, nor does it hear from some prime figures in the debate.

      Although viewers aren't told this, four of the five Americans on-screen come from the "Jesus Seminar." As fundamentalists scowled and scholars smirked, this group organized to take votes on whether each passage in the Gospels is true or false. Given the group's methods, skeptical presuppositions and special ideologies, falsity was bound to win most of the ballots.

      In just the same way ABC's conclusions are predictable, given its sources:

      "It is pretty much agreed" that the Gospel writers "were not eyewitnesses" and that the texts "were probably written 40 to 100 years after Jesus' death." (Actually, the question is not whether the writers were eyewitnesses but whether they drew upon eyewitness material. Only radicals push the writings more than 70 years after Jesus.)

      "The only things we can say with some certainty" about Jesus' birth are that he was Jewish and there was political tension at the time.

      "Most scholars we talked to" think that Jesus' nature miracles "were invented by the Gospel writers as advertisements for Christianity."

      "Jesus was executed, not for blasphemy as the Gospels indicate, but as a political revolutionary."

      Jennings reports that "some eminent scholars" believe Jesus rose from the grave. And although the show doesn't make the best use of its conservative, Canon Theologian N.T. Wright of Westminster Abbey, he gets in one zinger: If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, Wright asks, how do we explain the explosive growth of early Christianity?

      Wright's presence makes ABC's program more balanced than "From Jesus to Christ," a PBS effort two years ago that excluded conservative thinkers.

      The Jennings program is being praised by an Orthodox Jewish educator, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

      "I was extremely impressed and moved," he says. "It made a great religious leader very available."

      By contrast, traditional Christians probably will loathe the show, which will only reinforce their already profound distrust of establishment media empires. The Southern Baptist Convention even supports a boycott of ABC's parent Disney company, to little effect.

      So, what does newsman Jennings conclude? He says Jesus "had a vision for a just world which was so vivid, and which moved him so powerfully, that he was willing to die for it. And after his death, his vision somehow transformed the world. Miraculous."
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