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Public television’s Nova series debuted a two-hour special called “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” Nov. 18. It’s scheduled to be repeated several times, including next Monday night (Nov. 25) at 9:00 p.m., at least in our neighborhood (check your local listings here).

The TV program is worth watching, and the website is worth exploring.

The program will challenge many viewers: it accepts the Documentary Hypothesis over Mosaic authorship, for example, and leans strongly toward the social revolution theory of Israel’s origin. It argues that the Exile was the forge in which Israel’s monotheistic faith was finally, definitively formed. Most viewers will find something about the program with which to disagree — but also many things that will provoke productive thought. Viewers will come away with about as good a critical introduction to the emergence of the Bible and of Israel as is possible in a two-hour span.

Even the scholars cited in the program don’t agree with each other (they’re academics, after all), but there’s no question that many of them have a deep love for all things biblical, a desire both to understand and to communicate the faith of Israel.

I hope you’ll take the time to tune it to the program — it may challenge your faith, but faith, like Israel’s, may develop best under pressure.

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