NOVA "The Bible's Buried Secrets" on PBS World

NOVA "The Bible's Buried Secrets" on PBS World

Mon, 08/23/2010 - 7:00pm

Pictured: The Western Wall and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Credit: Providence Pictures

NOVA reveals startling new discoveries that shake the foundation of Biblical archeology.

A landmark documentary, NOVA “The Bible’s Buried Secrets,” takes viewers on a fascinating scientific journey that began 3,000 years ago and continues today. The film presents the latest archeological scholarship from the Holy Land to explore the beginnings of modern religion and the origins of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. This archeological detective story tackles some of the biggest questions in biblical studies. Where did the ancient Israelites come from? Who wrote the Bible, when and why? How did the worship of one God — the foundation of modern Judaism, Christianity and Islam — emerge? NOVA “The Bible’s Buried Secrets encores Monday, August 23 at 7 p.m. on PBS World (cable 524/DT21.2).

“’The Bible’s Buried Secrets’ is both a scientific detective story and dramatic adventure that digs deeply into the Bible and the history of the ancient Israelites through the archeological artifacts they left behind,” said Paula S. Apsell, NOVA senior executive producer.

NOVA travels to several excavations of ancient cities in the Holy Land, filming newly discovered remnants and interviewing leading archeologists and biblical scholars at these spectacular sites. These in-depth interviews — along with historic works of art, ancient artifacts, animations of biblical passages and scenes, and dramatic recreations of extraordinary events—provide the latest archeological account of the ancient Israelites and how they found their one God, the God not only of modern Judaism, but also of Christianity and Islam. “To this day, the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, is a sacred text for more than three billion people throughout the world,” said Gary Glassman, the writer, producer and director of “The Bible’s Buried Secrets.” “The film’s international team of archeologists and scholars researches biblical texts and examines artifacts and ancient manuscripts to illuminate how the concept of one God emerged to later form the foundation of the three great monotheistic religions.”

The film’s investigation of decades of literary research and archeological excavation in the Holy Land reveals provocative new insights. One vital clue is a recently found inscription at Tel Dan in Israel, referring to the “House of David” — the first text outside the Bible to confirm that this heroic monarch actually existed. Another exciting find is a carved Hebrew alphabet — in fact, the earliest complete alphabet known anywhere in the world — at Tel Zayit, an excavation site southwest of Jerusalem. It suggests the existence of a literate royal court at the time of David and Solomon, the 10th century BC, raising the possibility that scribes could have written portions of the Hebrew Bible at that time. Even more extraordinary, the discovery of pagan idols at dozens of archeological sites throughout biblical Israel challenges old assumptions about the rise of monotheism. The idols prove that this momentous change to the worship of a single God could not have arisen fully until the Israelites’ devastating exile in Babylon, centuries later than previously thought.

For the first time on television, “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” brings together decades of archeological exploration and more than a century of meticulous literary research of the Holy Land. Filmed on location throughout the Middle East, the film transports viewers into the world of the Old Testament through guided explorations of ancient ruins and advanced digital animation techniques, which bring sacred places, including the long-lost Temple of Solomon, to life. As part of the project, NOVA commissioned a hand-crafted, illustrated Bible — a bound collection of artwork featuring images of ancient frescoes, illuminated medieval manuscripts and paintings by European masters. These striking visuals evoke memorable scenes from biblical literature, such as God speaking to Moses from the burning bush, and David as he slays the giant Philistine warrior, Goliath. According to Apsell, “In addition to exploring the historical authenticity of the biblical narration, this powerful intersection of science, scholarship and scripture also provides a unique insight into the deeper meaning of biblical texts and their continuing resonance through the centuries.”