Only a short note here. On the whole I think it was a job well-done. The art was in fact excellent, the talking heads were recognized scholars in the field who were clear and articulate. Given the time constraints I thought it did quite well. It didn’t ridicule faith. I thought it was reasonable in how it treated the Biblical text and the available archaeological data.
I taped it and will watch it again. I’d use it to spark discussion about these sorts of issues in a class series. But the class would have to agree to go deep into the material. For example, whereas the film presents JEDP hypothesis in a matter of minutes, I would think that at least 45 minutes or an hour would be necessary to introduce the hypothesis to a Bible class. Then you could spend several weeks, I think, in a very fruitful exploration of the Biblical text and perhaps some other readings. I think a quarter (12-13 weeks) of class sessions would be a good start.
Which raises another point…where is the Bible class willing to do this? I’ve not met them yet. I’ve not been in one yet, and I’ve not taught one yet. Most Bible classes aren’t structured to do this kind of deep digging, and most teachers are volunteers with no training or background (and thus little capacity) to thoroughly sift the issues raised by this program. For that matter, most ministers who know about this sort of thing would rather (understandably) spend their time building churches or doing something else. After all the documentary hypothesis is hypothetical and most ministers are practical, either by nature or of necessity. And on top of that, it is controversial…no wonder we don’t hear it.
I think we sell folks short, though, by not engaging in the deep study that films like this could nudge us toward if we would let them. So we don’t buy into the JEDP stuff…then have a good series of classes that explore the hypothesis. The answer to a program like this that challenges traditional views isn’t ignoring it or dismissing it, but engaging it.