Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bishop Alan Wilson on the BBC’s ‘pisspoor’ Bible’s Buried Secrets



Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou is the latest theologically-inclined, telegenic academic to be commissioned by the BBC to present her objectively-atheistic (ie ‘neutral’) worldview to the nation, courtesy of the taxpayer.

She has been deploying her much-vaunted Oxford doctorate and senior lectureship at Exeter to tell us about the ‘Bible's Buried Secrets’, which were not actually buried very deeply; indeed, they were not particularly secret. Perhaps standards have slipped in Oxford’s theology faculty.

Is it the incongruity of her glamour and grace with the stark and foreboding Old Testament that the BBC found irresistible? Is it that she wore a sensual, green blouse throughout? Or is it that her name sounds sufficiently like a course in New Testament Greek all in itself? His Grace asks because Dr Stavrakopoulou’s profound doctoral insights may be read and discovered by Tyndale's ploughboy: they are all certainly within the grasp of a first-year undergraduate. So quite what is ‘buried’ or ‘secret’ is... well, buried and secret.

The BBC sent Dr Stavrakopoulou all the way to Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria to contextualise her mind-blowing, ground-breaking, startlingly-original and revelatory thesis that Israelite monotheism developed and that King David did not have a global empire. She is very keen to point out ‘as an academic’ that ‘religious literature shaped by ideological and political factors’ which ‘can result in a biased account’.

His Grace is dumbfounded by her brilliance.

He lauds and praises the BBC for discovering a Dawkins disciple of such intellect.

She further informs us: ‘Much of what is presented as historical fact, I know to be ambiguous.’

She knows. She does not explain how she knows, but she knows that she knows what she knows. With her, there are no known unknowns. Or unknown unknowns.

His Grace genuflects in the presence of her omniscience: he is not worthy to comment.

But he knows a cleric who is.

Bishop Alan Wilson is of the opinion that this is ‘pisspoor stuff’. And it is. He summarises his opinion in the Facebook snippet reproduced above (without permission, but he’s a good egg).

And speaking of eggs, please don’t trouble Bishop Alan about his use of language: he is quite busy at the moment tending his new flock of chickens, and ‘piss’ can be discovered numerous times in the Authorised Version (Is 36:12; 1Sam 25:22, 34; 1Kg 14:10, 16:11, 21:21; 2Kg 9:8, 18:27). It is refreshing indeed to hear such use of the vernacular by senior Church of England clergy. One wonders why the BBC haven't engaged him to present a documentary on the Bible's un-buried non-secrets.

But perhaps he would look a bit silly in a flimsy, green blouse.

37 Comments:

Anonymous Charlie said...

there's the amazing co-incidence that the fragrant Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou is employed by Exeter University:

http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/theology/staff/stavrakopoulou/

And Exeter University was the grateful recipient of a bob or two from topical Arab leaders:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/14/gaddafi-regime-university-links-under-scrutiny

Spoooooky!

26 March 2011 at 11:51  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Your Grace, this is the Bombastic Bullshit Contingency you are talking about. Surely you didn't expect an unbiased presentation of one of their pet hates?

Wouldn't your time be better spent lobbying your pals in the Not the Tory Party to get the legalised robbery, aka Telly tax, scrapped?

26 March 2011 at 11:51  
Blogger Tim said...

Oh, for heavens sake. This is a popular BBC TV program, not a university lecture. What did you expect?

The BBC has been castigated on two fronts for this program. Some people (like yourself) have, completely unreasonably, protested that a TV show was aimed at a general audience and didn't assume specialist knowledge. The horror!

At the same time, plenty of Christians have been burning up the Internet protesting that the show was ludicrous, extreme, peddling unproven nonsense, etc etc. Apparently these people have been entirely blind-sided by the news that His Grace finds so tediously obvious.

So which is it? Is the story old or new? Given the number of people who found it surprising, I'd say the BBC pitched it pretty well.

26 March 2011 at 11:56  
Blogger Tim said...

Reading this again, I'm not even sure what the problem is. His Grace grumbles that the presenter is biased, and also grumbles that her story is obvious. Well, which? Is it controversial and wrong, or obviously correct? Or are we just grumbling because Christians love to complain?

The Bishop's idiotic complaint doesn't deserve repeating. Most of the British population do not read the Bible, Bishop! If you leave your palace for a moment, you might discover that not everyone knows as much about the text as you do. A TV show does not assume an audience of one bishop - although perhaps, if the BBC were to follow His Grace's advice, they could put together a show so tedious and pious that only a bishop would watch it.

26 March 2011 at 12:03  
Blogger Sean Older said...

The biased is the athiestic slant. Even though it is said to be balanced. The obvious-ness (not even a word eh?) is that the bible clearly states many a time that the people were inter-marrying with the nations around them and their idols. Hosea even refers to is as a spiritual/deistic 'adultery'.

You are right though. Not everyone would know this because they have not picked up that dusty bible off of their shelves (or the libraries) for years. I'd suggest this is an encouragement to do that & see for yourself who Israel, David & Jerusalem was historically and who God is eternally.

Good point to raise Tim.

26 March 2011 at 12:40  
Anonymous yobbo said...

"Most of the British population do not read the Bible."

Source of survey to this effect?
Definition of British?
Are the people categorised as "British" sufficiently literate to read anything, let alone the Bible?

Do the people categorised as "British" speak enough English even to understand survey questions?

btw bbc World Service have confirmed today that they have stopped Russian and Chinese broadcasts - due to cuts by the Foreign Office.

26 March 2011 at 12:48  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Ah Cranmer.
Unfortunately the sheer antiquity of your lineage prevents an ability to grasp the "assured results" of 'science', and modern advances in knowledge, as so charmingly expressed by the lady.
You will be claiming that a 'God' created the universe and the world with it. Whatever next?

26 March 2011 at 13:00  
Anonymous francis said...

"Good point to raise Tim."

No, pisspoor point actually. Quick reminder: the title of the series is "Bible's Buried Secrets". If the only reason people might not know this stuff is because they've never opened the Bible, then it can hardly be said to be either "buried" or "secret".

26 March 2011 at 13:02  
Blogger Tim said...

If that's all you're complaining about, then this article should just say "Pity about the title!" and have done with it. Hardly a story to get upset about. His Grace and the Bishop actually say there's something wrong with the program, and that's nonsense.

In any case, the title suggests that there are parts of the Bible that have been buried. I think that's fair enough - I've never heard a sermon about Asherah.

26 March 2011 at 13:10  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

"He lauds and praises the BBC for discovering a Dawkins disciple of such intellect." Lol!

I wonder when the BBC will run a programme revealing the Quran's Buried Secrets? I guess I'll be waiting a long time.

26 March 2011 at 13:12  
Anonymous Red Admiral said...

Yeah but phooar......

26 March 2011 at 13:13  
Blogger John Kenzy said...

Fancy that, an educated woman from Oxford suggesting that the Bible is a load of hysterical bollocks. What ever next? Scratch her eyes out I say before it catches on.

26 March 2011 at 13:15  
Anonymous len said...

Well surely Y G you didn!t expect any 'hard evidence'to disprove the Bible because there isn`t any.

Why the BBC wastes taxpayers money on these fruitless quests to disprove the Bible (or Christianity)is a mystery to me.Perhaps if the BBC did a programme on itself and why it has an anti- Christian stance it might enlighten us all!

26 March 2011 at 13:54  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

Tim,

As others have intimated, if the series is directed at those who have never read the Bible, then a truly useful ( and no less entertaining) series ought to help that uniformed part of the population by saying, the Bible says 'x" I think "y" - there we have the problem - make your mind up.

I remember years ago Don Cuppitt did a series "The Sea of Faith" which, while I disagreed with its conclusion, undertook a masterly explanation of Christianity and its claims and philosophers before reaching a non traditional conclusion. Many of us are happy with that. Your problem is that if you do not honestly know the thesis, then you cannot judge how poorly the antithesis is being presented and it is to that, that the objection is taken.

I welcome robust challenge - "bring it on" - but we object to the BBC offering a pipsqueak programme and expecting us to be impressed.

As a C of E Reader I have preached for over 20 years. You are right, I have never mentioned Ashera but there is a clue as to why this might be.

A Sermon, is an exposition of the faith from the scriptures. It is not a lecture or an entertainment, though I hope mine will be well informed and hold the attention.

As I heard the programme all I learned was that the good lady had met somebody who had seen a shard of pottery on which certain letters appeared which if one filled in the vowels of choice might say the name of the Canaanite Goddess "Ashera" and those self same letters appear in one book of the Bible. She had also seen a carving that you could say was ( or was not) the self same deity. It was exceedingly thin stuff. Forgive me if I say that I have better material to work with when I draft my sermons - and I am one who is more than happy to cast widely for examples and interesting references.

26 March 2011 at 15:00  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

PS Uniformed = un-informed!!

26 March 2011 at 15:02  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Exeter Uni lecturer...'Islamic' Green blouse..."anti" Bible...BBC

I await their "Koran's Hidden Secrets" with interest.

26 March 2011 at 15:51  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Concurring in the Blogmaster's remarks it was some (not much) relief to see that Dr Stavrakopoulou's twaddle was not from a lecturer at Exeter College in the University of Oxford;

also concurring with LobotomySpoon82 (26 March 13:12) ..."I wonder when the BBC will run a programme revealing the Quran's Buried Secrets?" (please let us know when it happens);

but, following the link to Dr Wilson's blog (and thence to his article in the Guardian)it is troubling that he seems to have been too dismissive of some of the better informed protest in the case of Mr and Mrs Johns: Lord Justice Laws may be a churchwarden, but was that ever a guarantee of openness of heart and mind toward dissenters? And it may be doubted whether any clergyman is the better for writing in the Guardian, or anywhere else, or speaking from the pulpit, of "Rightwing Christians". A category mistake, surely?

26 March 2011 at 16:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I await their "Koran's Hidden Secrets" with interest."

That would be a great series, but CChristoph Luxenberg's book would be a little hard to film.
How about 'Muhammad: His Wars and Loves'?

26 March 2011 at 16:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a reflection of a) the lack of knowledge of the Bible and b) the lamentable state of higher education in this country that so many academics imagine that they are authorities on the Bible (e.g. Dawkins). I find it odd, seeing that, usually, one must have a PhD or Masters to be taken seriously at University level.

I heard a long, biased talk by one of these self-proclaimed experts who had written a book on how barbaric God was for visiting destruction on Old Testament tribes. He had naively assumed these tribes were just like him and his liberal, high minded neighbours...

I waited patiently for the Q&A after the close of his "sensational" speech and then asked him if he knew that these tribes was child sacrificing to Baal, and no doubt to "Ashera". (Dawkins makes the same error in "The God Delusion"). I received no reply and the event was hurriedly closed.

Why don't those who write transcripts or books on "God the Barbarian" or "God the husband of Ashera" mug up better before pontificating to the nation e.g. talk with a few qualified academic theologians or Google a bit more? Simple stuff really. They don't seem to care that they look ill-educated about the Bible. They get the worldly rewards for undermining the Bible.

26 March 2011 at 16:37  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Archeology has no reason to prove or disprove, it should not be biased lead by any political or religious objectives.

I enjoy seeking out a primordial tradition common to all that existed before political and religious power struggles corrupted everything.

Goodness knows the World could do with something that brings folk together right now, any belief system should be capable of standing up to archeological scrutiny, for a faith to be a true faith you should be able to dig right back to neoloithic times and find traces or concepts of it in emergance.

If Philo the Jew discovered Greek philosophy in the old testament and Greece was influenced by Minos and the sea peoples, yada, yada, yada.

26 March 2011 at 16:47  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Anonymous (26 March 16:37)__"...(Dawkins makes the same error in "The God Delusion")....Why don't those who write transcripts or books on "God the Barbarian" or "God the husband of Ashera" mug up better before pontificating to the nation... They don't seem to care that they look ill-educated about the Bible...."

Given the information about Richard Dawkins in the public domain (e.g. Wikipedia) it is unlikely that his aversion to the Bible or Christianity is due to lack of education:

"...Dawkins describes his childhood as 'a normal Anglican upbringing.' Though he began having doubts about the existence of God when he was about nine years old, he was persuaded by the argument from design... and embraced Christianity. In his mid-teens, he concluded that the theory of evolution was a better explanation for life's complexity, and ceased believing in God. He attended Oundle, a Church of England school..."

It would be otiose to remark that 'a normal Anglican upbringing' is no guarantee against developing the stance of a tepid agnostic or virulent atheist.

26 March 2011 at 17:05  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"Perhaps standards have slipped in Oxford’s theology faculty."

Mr Dawkins is rather rude about it but I don't think it's slipping standards that bother him. :)

26 March 2011 at 19:03  
Anonymous Pageantmaster said...

They seem to do better at rowing.

26 March 2011 at 19:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course the Koran is full of hidden secrets but people tend to die if they point them out.

What she says is hardly 'hidden', it being shown on National Geographic years ago.

Nice tits though.

26 March 2011 at 19:39  
Blogger Geoff said...

I agree Your Grace. Like yourself I continue to be driven to ranting by the condescension to our intellect that seems to permeate nearly every documentary from floozies in green blouses to Brian Cox. Andrew Marr and David Attenborough excepted. Let us all genuflect to Kenneth Clark who once assumed we all had a brain.

26 March 2011 at 19:41  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Melvyn Bragg also excepted, if one who has no TV may be permitted to mention the wireless radio.

26 March 2011 at 20:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

You Grace,
For those of your communicants interested in genuine archaeological evidence for events in the Bible may I commend to them a series by Don Patton PhD called "The Stones of Israel". It can be found on YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWawVUZg3Es

It is fascinating stuff in a way that the BBC programme should have been but was'nt. Patton is an archaeologist who has done the digging for himself.

26 March 2011 at 22:32  
Anonymous The Rev Mrs said...

Typical! You give them the vote and teach them to drive and see what happens?

26 March 2011 at 22:51  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Told ya, she's a young lady with an eye for the main chance, and what better time than the present to display her wares?

She'll be well-in with the Beeb and a highly paid 'talking-head' elsewhere, before anyone gets around to trashing her opinions.

It's a neat trick if you can pull it off, and have few scruples!

27 March 2011 at 02:31  
Blogger LobotomySpoon82 said...

We have it in stereo now as I see Bart Ehrman, coincidentally, is up to his old stories about the NT again Your Grace:

Was the New Testament forged?

27 March 2011 at 07:24  
Blogger peedeel said...

Might not the BBC title be but a slight dig in the ribs of NOVA’s TV series, “The Bible’s Buried Secrets”?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/

Perhaps the allusion is a tad obscure for most tastes, and a more prosaic title would have served?

Whatever, one must not confuse and confound the boundaries of what is “faith” with what is “scholarship”. While the two are not necessary mutually exclusive, study of early Israelite and Judahite history and religion are a veritable minefield. This kept firmly in mind, Francesca Stavrakopoulou has presented a brief televisual view for a mass audience…and for many of her viewers, the interpretations presented would have been quite new (it certainly appeared to be so for the Daily Mail), quite sensational - which is often the problem with ‘popular television’.

Television being such a vacuous medium, it’s hard to see how anyone could explore the tension between the mythic and the historical in Israel's past in a more general, hence ‘popular’ way? Or to examine the reemergence of Canaanite mythic material in the Torah, hence in the Old Testament – and it’s obvious links to the apocalypticism of early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls, with a corresponding impact on Christian beliefs today?

27 March 2011 at 12:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plan B - if you can't knock it, just say you knew all along.

But the Archbishop and the Bishop seem to have missed the point of both programmes. Fact is, the fragrant Francesca pulled her punches. She carefully went no further than the good Bishop would cheerfully accept, and left it to the viewer to ask the questions.

Did the Israelites think they were "playing hooky"? Or did they think Yahweh was just one god among many, and how does that square with the Exodus story? Or had they never heard of Yahweh at all?

And if David's empire didn't exist, did David?

27 March 2011 at 15:55  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I would prefer Veena Malik presenting this programme.....any programme....

27 March 2011 at 16:23  
Blogger paul.bevis said...

I imagine some people get as equally heated when Harry Potter books get deconstructed .... they both have as much relevance for the 21st Century.

28 March 2011 at 00:40  
Anonymous Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

My dear anonymous blogger, you must not believe everything that the BBC puts out, just to feed your disdain of the Holy Bible..They have an agenda that does not rely on accurately conveying historical facts.

"Did the Israelites think they were "playing hooky"?(It's called idolatory and they KNOWINGLY did it. King Solomon was one of the worst offenders!) Or did they think Yahweh was just one god among many (They did not care, they were as deluded as this generation is today, they lusted after false gods, irrespective of the consequences or has the taking of Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah into historical captivity slipped your memory?), and how does that square with the Exodus story (The Exodus happened before the idolatory you refer to and if I remember rightly, that generation were refused entry into promised land because of..oh yeah, idolatory and not trusting Yahweh, even though they were shown his shrouded glory by day and by night in leading them from Egypt and He provided for them in the wilderness!)? Or had they never heard of Yahweh at all? (Grow Up!)

And if David's empire didn't exist, did David?" (Get a grip, for goodness sake. The skeptics did not believe that Sargon the Great of Akkad existed and mocked the Bible until heaps of archaelogical evidence were unearthed, not one apology though to the Bible for their rash judgments).

Obvious conclusions from your comment;

1.A fool is too easily pleased with himself (see your above comment)
2.“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind” (Proverbs 18:2); “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (12:15).

Yet Proverbs 26:5 reminds us that what the fool really needs is for someone to stand up to him and kindly expose his folly for what it is.

Hope that helps.

Do open up the Book of Books and take a good, hard look before spouting unlearned rubbish, there's a jolly chappie. Try reading W F Albright, Fredric Kenyon and Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, the great archaelogists and historians rather than a self professing TV historical expert?

Ernst

There is a small village somewhere that I.s being D.eprI.ved O.f your T.alents.

28 March 2011 at 01:06  
Blogger I'm Freak'n Dr Evil said...

Poor Paul Bevis (Bevis - A mindless person, under Urban Dictionary..How APT.) blurted 28 March 2011 00:40

Obvious conclusions from your comment;

1.A fool is too easily pleased with himself (see your above comment)
2.“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind” (Proverbs 18:2); “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (12:15).

Yet Proverbs 26:5 reminds us that what the fool really needs is for someone to stand up to him and kindly expose his folly for what it is.

Hope that helps.

Do open up the Book of Books and take a good, hard look before spouting unlearned rubbish, there's a jolly chappie. Try reading W F Albright, Fredric Kenyon and Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, the great archaelogists and historians rather than a self professing TV historical expert?

Ernst

There is a small village somewhere that I.s being D.eprI.ved O.f your T.alents.(Due to the high number of numbnuts visiting this blog, maybe 'increased housing for the intellectually challenged' should have been on the Sensus 2011, the poor loves)

28 March 2011 at 01:24  
Anonymous Disgusted Pole said...

Biased from start to finish, with Obama girl as a presenter.
But what can you expect from Pravda-like BBC? Stakes weren't so bad after all....

3 April 2011 at 19:08  

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