Monday, 28 March 2011

The Bible’s Buried Secrets; or exposing Jewish cultural imperialism

Above are the first two episodes of a documentary series, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, presented by Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, currently being shown over here on the BBC. The first show is about the alleged united Jewish kingdom of David, while the second is about monotheism.

Not being that interested in Jewish history or the Old Testament, I was skeptical about watching the series, thinking it might just be just another guilt-ridden Western excuse to promote Jewish history and culture as universal; but in fact the programmes have so far been the opposite, implying that the Old Testament is just Jewish nationalist propaganda and challenging and exposing (as much as a TV series can challenge and expose) a whole host of Jewish myths; Jewish myths, which, unfortunately, Greeks adopted when they accepted Christianity and in the process repudiated key facets of Hellenism.

In fact, in the second show on monotheism, the hostility of Judaism to Hellenism is clearly articulated by Rabbi Ken Spiro who says of polytheism: ‘In essence, it’s a lie. Just look at the morality of the ancient world which is polytheistic and you see the radical contrast between the Jewish idea on the one hand and what came out of the pagan world on the other and it’s very, very clear.’

Indeed, rabbi, the contrast with what came out of the ‘pagan’ world and what came out of the Jewish world is radical and I know which world is more interesting, sophisticated, liberating, progressive and moral.

Another aspect of the series I liked was its effort to rehabilitate those peoples in the Old Testament, such as the Canaanites and Philistines, maligned by the Jews. The Philistines we are reminded were probably proto-Greeks, who came to the Near East via the Aegean and/or Cyprus.

* See here for third and final episode on the Garden of Eden.


Hermes said...

There are many academics who believe monotheism originated amongst the Greeks. This was an interesting piece I recently read:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these, John. Recently, on yahoo, "God had a wife" has turned up in the trending searches. It's nice to know where it stemmed from. The last ten minutes if the second clip are really fascinating. Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou's series is timely and appreciated.

Not sure if this comment will go through. Have been experiencing problems when commenting on blogs today. Not sure why.


Hermes said...

Please everyone listen to one of the latest Entitled Opinions (from Stanford) episodes on Greek Tragedy. The reading of Oedipus Colonnus and pessimism (about halfway through) is brilliant. The hosts have trouble really understanding Greek Tragedy but they had the good sense to put a fine bouzouki solo at the end of the show. A solo that embodies all that Sophocles was trying to say.

Anonymous said...

the jewish and islamic concept of god makes more logical sense then any trinity concept that came from nicea in fact the early christians didnt believe in the trinity at all it became incorporated at a later date also if there is indeed a god then quantum physics would opt for a monothist approach ie 1 almighty force iheard a lecture by a quantum physics scientist who was open to the idea there could be a god and if there was it would have to be a whole entity not a trinity i kniow its going a bit off the topic but the jewish/islamic conceot makes more sense in terms of the one entity elemant the violence associateed with imperialism etc i agree with fullythe old testament is very bloody, i am aware quantum physics is only one science that can be applied and that this is only one theory however there is no other science i can think of more relevent to the issue of is there or is there not a god.

Hermes said...

The irony about the presence of the Old Testament in European culture, is that it only became important because the Christians decided to use it as the book demonstrating the coming of Christ. But the only reason Christianity became a world religion capable of defending itself was not because of the Old Testament, but because it was girded by Greek philosophy and thought. Without Greek thought, Christianity would have remained an irrelevant sect like all the others that existed at that time. However, the most plausible sect of Christianity today is Orthodoxy because it decided relatively early on in its history, that Christianity was completely paradoxical and implausible; therefore, believers could not logical prove God (like the Catholics) but had to feel his presence within a community of believers, such as the Church. It is quite clever actually.

Nikita from Messinia said...

In reference to the early (Greek)church, I do like one description I read which theorises that the church fathers with the one hand embraced Greek logic and thought, yet with the other kept it (ie paganism) at arm's length.

Anonymous said...

i thought this vid i came across might be relevant

Anonymous said...

I have great respect for Jews. That said, there is no such thing as a "Jewish people". Jewish is ultimately a religion not an ethnic group. (sort of like saying a "christian people") Shlomo Sands (an Israeli historian) wrote a book highlighting this fact a few years ago ("The invention of the Jewish people") but the book was immediately denounced by Jewish groups. (and some Jewish run media outlets that portrayed genetic data)

In any case, I think Jews have a right to their identity. If they identify with ancient Jews that should be respected. However, the same should hold true for Greeks as well (and as everyone knows Jewish run media outlets have been very anti-Hellenic these last few years so it strikes me as remarkably hypocritical)