One of the nation’s top biblical scholars says he hopes a new, groundbreaking documentary series about the Bible helps spark a “revival” of the mind among Christians, leading them to want to learn more.
On June 5, CBN Films will release Oracles of God: The Story of the Old Testament, which is the first part in a scheduled four-part series that examines the history and archaeology of the Bible. The first film in the series focuses specifically on the Old Testament. It will be released on DVD and on the CBN Family app.
“It will tease the mind into active thought,” Ben Witherington, a New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, told Christian Headlines. Witherington has written more than 60 books, including commentaries on every book of the New Testament. He is among the biblical experts featured in the film.
“Good critical thinking is lacking these days in the culture, and in the church. … It’s time for us to have a revival, a renewal, not only of the Spirit, but of the mind. And that means getting in more touch with both the context and the content of the Bible.”
Oracles of God: The Story of the Old Testament includes reenactments and interviews with multiple biblical scholars. It was written and directed by four-time Emmy nominee Erin Zimmerman.
The Bible is far more than an inspirational book, Witherington said. The film shows that the Bible is based on history, he noted.
“Your religion is not Chicken Soup for the Soul. It has a historical foundation,” he added. “It has a historical basis. And without that, you don’t have Judaism or Christianity. The Bible is not a Ouija board for gurus to find a spiritual message for the day. It is a text that focuses on history, theology and ethics. And it tells the truth about history, theology and ethics. And because of that, history matters. Archaeology matters. We are people of a historical religion.
“And we’re monotheistic, we really care about this stuff. Because if there’s only one God, we’d better get it right. And we’d better get ourselves right with that God as well.”
The manuscript evidence for the Bible, Witherington added, is extensive. Asked what he tells skeptics of the reliability of the Bible, he answered, “Have you ever read Caesar’s Gallic Wars or Homer’s Odyssey or Virgil’s Aeneid and other ancient classics? And did you ever ask the question: I wonder if this is what they actually wrote? The point is: Guess what – we have earlier and better manuscripts of the Bible than for any other ancient classics.”
“We actually have documents written in the first century B.C. and the first century A.D.,” he said. “… We are closer to the source of those documents than for any other comparable ancient documents of any kind – Greco-Roman, Babylonian, Sumerian, Hittites, Hivites.”
Photo courtesy: ©CBN Films, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.