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“Bible Hunters” TV Programmes

February 7, 2014

Last year I was interviewed for a TV production that is to be aired soon:  “Bible Hunters,” which focuses on the 19th and 20th century figures “who searched Egypt for the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts.”

The two-part programme airs in the UK on BBC 2, at 9 pm on 13 and 20 February.  It’s also airing on the Smithsonian Channel but I don’t have the dates or times for that.

You never know what use will be made of what you provide to such productions, or what kind of “story” they’ll tell or what “spin” they’ll put on it until the programme airs.  So, I can’t say in advance what I’ll think of it.  But I’ll aim to watch it and maybe blog on it thereafter.

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  1. Alan Cossey permalink

    Ah partly funded by the Smithonian. That would seem to explain the over emphasis on the Washington codex. It is a pity they also totally ignored Codex Vaticanus and all the fragmentary manuscript from before (and after) Sinaiticus (Greek) if their aim was to give a balanced account of our knowledge of the NT text.
    I appreciate that the programme was about hunting for manuscripts, but you can see the sort of conclusion people are drawing from this review in the Guardian:

    • Yes, that’s correct about the emphasis on Freer and his gospel codex. And, yes, despite my attempts to correct their misguided “story line” (that the discovery of variants in later manuscripts was felt to undermine faith in the Bible), a bit of that did come through anyway. Seems that TV people find fiction more watchable than facts.

  2. Here’s a link to the first episode. Thank you Dr. Hurtado for bringing this to our attention.

  3. Donald Jacobs permalink

    I just noticed this is on at half past ten in Scotland instead of nine o’clock.

    How come there are no comparably famous “Bible hunters” in the 21st century? Is there nothing much else to be found or what?

    I’d like to be a Bible hunter, so where’s the best place to start? Old European libraries with special permission, or the sands of Egypt with a special spade for the sand? When you think of all that’s forever lost you could weep.

    • There are people still looking for ancient manuscripts, but pretty much all the obvious places have been searched (e.g., monasteries, libraries). There were major manuscript discoveries in the 20th century: beginning with the Freer biblical manuscripts (see the vol on these that I edited), then in the 30s the Chester Beatty papyri (a number of manuscripts of OT & NT writings, some dating perhaps as early as 2nd century), in the 60s the Bodmer biblical papyri (NT gospels and extra-canonical texts too, some dating as early as 2nd century perhaps),

  4. Donald Jacobs permalink

    Thanks for letting us know I’ll look forward to it. It will be interesting to see if they paint Tischendorf as a rescuer of unappreciated manuscripts or a common garden thief.

  5. samtsang98 permalink

    I look forward to seeing you on this program. If BBC has a link on it after, please share. We don’t always watch BBC at the right time across the pond here, Prof. H.

  6. Do you know if this will come to America?

    • I imagine it will be shown in the USA too, as it’s partially funded by the Smithsonian and will appear on their channel their.

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