BANNED FROM THE BIBLE
The Stories That Were Deleted From Biblical History
When Jesus was a boy, did he kill another child? Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute — or an apostle? Did Cain commit incest? Will there be an apocalypse or is this God’s trick to scare us? The answers to these questions aren’t found in the Bible as we know it, but they exist in scriptures banned when powerful leaders deemed them unacceptable for reasons both political and religious. BANNED FROM THE BIBLE reveals some of these alternative tales and examines why they were “too hot for Christianity.” The two-hour world premiere BANNED FROM THE BIBLE airs on Christmas, Thursday, December 25 at 9 pm ET/PT.
The Life of Adam and Eve, The Book of Enoch, The Book of Jubilees, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary, The Apocalypse of Peter…these are just a few of the books that were left out of the Bible. The reasons why they were excluded provide astonishing insight into the concerns of church leaders and scholars responsible for spreading the faith an illuminating look at early Christian and religious history.
One hundred and fifty years after the birth of Jesus, a man named Marcion decided that a Christian Bible was needed to replace the Hebrew Bible. Church leaders opposed Marcion’s banning of the Hebrew books, but they did agree that Christians should have a Bible to call their own. After Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in the 4th century, a serious effort was made to compile a Christian Bible, one that included both the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) and Christian manuscripts (the New Testament). It took another 40 years before a final list of New Testament books was officially canonized by the church. Many of the most popular were excluded. Upon examination today, many of these writings attempt to resolve inconsistencies and questions raised from reading the Bible.
BANNED FROM THE BIBLE examines the stories in some of these books, how they were rediscovered and what they might mean to us today. Included are:
* The Life of Adam and Eve: A more detailed story of creation than what is found in Genesis, this book includes jealous angels, a more devious serpent, and more information about Eve’s fall from grace from her point of view.
* The Book of Jubilees: This obscure Hebrew text offers an answer to a question that has vexed Christians for centuries — if Adam and Eve only had sons, and if no other humans existed, who gave birth to humanity? This text reveals that Adam and Eve had nine children and that Cain’s younger sister Awan became his wife. The idea that humanity was born of incest would have been radical — and heretical.
* The Book of Enoch: This scripture reads like a modern day action film, telling of fallen angels, bloodthirsty giants, an earth that had become home to an increasingly flawed humanity and a divine judgment to be rendered though denied a place in most Western Bibles; it has been used for centuries by Ethiopian Christians. Large portions of this book were found as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
* The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: The only book that deals with young Jesus, it indicates that Jesus was a strong-willed child who one historian describes as “Dennis the Menace as God.” The book reveals that at age five, Jesus may have killed a boy by pushing push him off a roof and then resurrected him. Perhaps too disturbing for inclusion in the Bible, this book seems to contain traditions, also known to the Koran.
* The Protovangelion of James: This book offers details of the life of the Virgin Mary, her parents, her birth and her youth, stories not found in the New Testament Gospels but was beloved by many early Christians.
* The Gospel of Mary: This Gnostic Text reveals that Mary Magdalene may have been an apostle, perhaps even a leading apostle, not a prostitute. While some texts in the Bible seem to deny women a voice in the Christian community, this texts helps spark the debate about the role of women in the church.
* The Gospel of Nicodemus: This is the story of Jesus’s trial and execution and his descent into hell. According to this gospel the Savior asserts his power over Satan by freeing patriarchs such as Adam, Isaiah and Abraham from Hell.
* The Apocalypse of Peter: Peter’s apocalypse suggests that there is a way out of punishment for evildoers and implies that the threat of the apocalypse is a way for God to scare people into living a moral life, and committing fewer sins.
These books are just a sampling of the hundreds that were never included in the Holy Bible. Perhaps there are more to be found. Whether one believes these alternative stories or not, they do provide an interesting perspective of the religious culture and propensities of the time.
BANNED FROM THE BIBLE features commentary from Bible