Sunday, March 23, 2008

"The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples"

Just watching / watched this program on Channel 4. As with so many of these things, it's got some good and widely acknowledged information (James as leader of the Jerusalem Church, Thomas in India, conflict in the early church over Jews / Gentiles), and tries to say that a lot of it has been suppressed to make it look like a big conspiracy with the Vatican as the evildoers. Sometimes they were, and often they weren't.

There's an interesting mix of scholars and crackpot conspiracy theorists. The stories seems to fall into several main groups:

  • focusing on well-acknowledged stuff (Thomas in India) which they find crackpots to deny and then claim that the deniers represent the church establishment
  • focusing on well-acknowledged stuff (Peter in Rome) which they find ultra-sceptical people (described as neutral) to deny and then focus only on the most controversial aspects of it (are the bones identified as Peter's bones really his?) and focus on the potential vested interest. There was even an ossuary (bone box) from Jerusalem labelled "Simon son of Jonah" which the guy who found it claimed wasn't Peter, but the presenter claimed had to be. The classic test is the question as to if, in 2000 years people found a tomb labelled "Elizabeth daughter of George" in the wrong place, would they think it was the remains of Queen Elizabeth II?
  • really dubious stuff (James in Compostella) that they get church people to defend

The whole thing seemed to strike me as very anti-Catholic. Now I'm not the greatest lover of Roman Catholicism in the world, though I know some good Catholics and the current Pope seems generally excellent, but it seemed to be decidedly nasty. Why the hatred of Catholicism? That's what I'd like to know... (but I could make some good guesses, mostly to do with embryology and authority claims)

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