This is a little something I needed to write down after watching just the first 20 minutes or so of the PBS documentary series The Story of the Jews.
The documentary by Jewish author Simon Schama sets the stage for the telling of the history of the Jews with a conspiracy theory launched by Sigmund Freud (a self-described “godless Jew”) that suspects the Israelites of having grown resentful toward Moses for introducing the Law, they murder him, and then out of guilt and remorse decide to honor his law anyway. Thence began the rich history of the Jews (?). This is a theory unable to be supported by scripture and considered by even the documentary’s author (a Jewish atheist) to be outrageous. But Freud’s undertaking here servers as an example of how intellectually gifted men are able to ignore clear evidence and even manufacture evidence in their own minds. It was stated that Freud’s motivation for his extensive writing about Jewish heritage late in life was to preserve the history of the Jews, not as a faith, but as a people. There indeed are both kinds of Jews.
The author Simon Schama’s personal Jewish philosophy celebrates the Jews as existing “apart”, and remaining “separate” from everyone else in the world by reason that they are of superior heritage. The perspective gives little credit to their God whom they deem only as a fictional god - ironically, the entire reason for their existence throughout most of their scripture based story, but instead take the credit for themselves. To me, it's as if they’ve taken His blessing of permanence and now have run with it while choosing to forget the curse which accompanies that same blessing in the event that they have forgotten about in the end.
My complaint with the author is this: the documentary gets several of the well-known facts about completely wrong. The author refers to the “Jewish Bible”. There is no such thing as a "Jewish Bible". It's a term put into use relatively recently in religious scholarship history meant to associate it with the Christian Bible. Awkwardly, in the next sentence, he then switches from using the Hebrew Bible to the Bible (the Christian one) in order to begin his Jewish history. No Jew would do that – they don’t regard what we the ordinary person refers to as the Bible as having any merit. And here, the ordinary viewer is who make up his audience. And he does all of this while talking with the excavating Jewish archeologist who is with him at the site of the battle of the future King David and Goliath, the freakishly large (sorry Andre! [“the Giant”]) Philistine warrior (who was the same size as some of the tallest men in the world in recent history), and with the archeologist, agrees that the stories in the “jewish bible”(?) are meant to be taken metaphorically, not literally. Citing from the Bible instead of the Jewish scriptures, as a Jew, would at best be considered wrong minded, and at worse be blasphemy against te Hebrew word of God (very un-Jewish). This is a Jewish historian and author trying to glorify his own Jewish heritage while discrediting both his own “Jewish“ God as well as his God’s subsequent visible and tangible Christian revelation to the world. This is what bothers me.
But he makes a worse error as a historian. After a lengthy introduction he says, “There would be another way for Jews to approach their God directly, the Hebrew Bible”. (Music, quaint imagery). “The bible started to be written down around 2700 ago” (?). That’ss not true. 2700 years ago corresponds with the time scripture was translated from Hebrew into Greek into the Pentateuch, thousands of years after they were first recorded. Scripture, in reality, is as old as known history – roughly 12,000 years - if you accept the original Hebrew authors breakdown of the chronologies found in the biblical gospels (evidence for this is down page in my Facebook timeline), and had been written down as well as passed down through word of mouth (men and God’s) since the beginning of time. But really, it was first written down in a formal manner roughly 3450 years ago (not 2700). That is a basic error for a respected historian. I think he as greater intentions here than just the history of the Jews. I think he is trying to do a good job at confusing the issue of who Jews and Christians really are.
This author is claiming a so-called “Hebrew bible” played a part in the advent of the Jewish people starting 2700 years ago. In reality, 2700 ago is when after thousands of years it had simply been translated from Hebrew to Greek. That is a contorted beginning to a contorted representation of Jewish history on PBS. I just couldn’t let him get away with that. And, I feel better now.
Hopefully this is no offense to Barney the green dragon.
And I intend to watch the rest of the 5-part series expecting great entertainment and educational value.